Looking back at 2013, a huge year for Moodle

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2013 was an amazing year for anyone working with a Learning Management Systems. With the introduction of a few new LMSes which are pushing the envelop in both course construction (http://lectrio.com/) and scalable solutions (http://code.edx.org/ and it’s support from Google) and the growth of others (Schoology, Instructure, D2L) there has been a lot of innovation. Moodle has had a banner year as well. According to Moodle.org’s stats there are currently over 67 million Moodle users worldwide (and that’s only a tally of registered sites). It’s been a great year to watch the eLearning space and to follow what’s happening with Moodle. Before we get a jump on 2014 let’s look at a few of the most important trends in 2013.

MOOCs

2012 was the year of the MOOC, 2013 showed people the power of Moodle as a MOOC platform. Early in 2013 was the first reported MOOC hosted on a Moodle site: “Statistics with R“. Later in the year two Moodle training MOOCs came about, first the WizIQ sponsored MOOC (which has run regularly since and will start up again this spring) and then Moodle HQ‘s official Moodle MOOC which highlighted the features of Moodle to novice Moodlers on a pretty slick showcase site (learn.moodle.net). All told, well over 10,000 Moodlers participated in a Moodle based MOOC in 2013. Here’s to more success in massive online and open courses.

Easier Addon Management

Taking a page from WordPress’s convenient and masterfully coordinated update system this year’s Moodle releases introduced ways to search for, install, and update Moodle addons directly from your site administration area. This is perhap the killer feature that will lower the somewhat high bar of self-hosting for Moodlers around the globe. It really could make Moodle the default elearning tool that anyone can setup and manage. Will we see an easier way to manage entire site upgrades/updates in Moodle 2.7 or 2.8? Here’s to hoping that it just takes a click of a button.

Mobile

Moodle’s approach to Mobile has changed over time. Since 2010 we’ve seen a host of 3rd party apps come on the scene with various levels of support from Moodle HQ. In 2013 we saw the introduction of official native apps for Moodle 2.4 and above for both Android and iOS. Both apps adopt the orange Moodle motif and are quite polished. With these apps introduced Moodle also announced that it was no longer supporting the myMobile theme which had previously been part of core Moodle. 

Aesthetics

Moodle HQ has published a bit of information regarding its frontend and backend teams and the end users are starting to see the fruits of their labor. Moodle’s interface started getting overhauled with new icons, lots of changes to the extensive forms required for setting up tools and more. One of the major highlights in terms of site aesthetics was the introduction of Twitter’s Bootstrap framework and a few Moodle themes which were created using it. Bootstrap is a responsive framework so the sites that use it work well on a host of devices and display sizes (Moodle included). My favorite theme of 2013 is Bootstrap based and I believe has rocketed Moodle into 2013 and beyond with a superb look and feel. Essential has made the most waves and is one of the most popular themes of 2013 for Moodle 2.5 and up (in the last 2 months Essential was the most popular plugin overall).

Community Funded Development

While crowd-funding has taken other markets by storm, Community funding of Moodle development it seems is seeing only small successes to date from a few sources. I’ve been leading a few smaller initiatives though some larger projects have come about from major Moodle players. Moodle.org has embraced the possibilities by hosting a database of community funded projects where 8 projects listed. Since April a few thousand dollars have been raised across the various projects. It seems that smaller is better, the most successful projects have been a Youtube Anywhere plugin for Moodle and improvements to course formats led by Gareth Barnard. Moodlerooms also created their own community funding site which has not had any traction with their clients to date.

 2014 and Beyond…

Moodle users can always get a glimpse of what’s coming by checking out Moodle’s Roadmap. What I think we will see and what I would like to see are pretty closely aligned. Here’s a short wishlist of features:

  • Autosave for online assignment, discussion forums (basically anywhere with a text editor)
  • A recycle bin for deleted resources (just in case they need to be restored)
  • Upgrade from the Admin Dashboard
  • Improved MyMoodle experience (for Administrators as well)
  • All in on responsive (and perhaps a culling of the standard themes currently packaged with Moodle
  • Another acquisition or high profile partner

What are you looking forward to you?

  • Happy holidays Joe, thanks for all of your posts, may 2014 be an even better year.

  • Don Hinkelman

    Hidden in the depths of Moodle 2.6 is the biggest innovation yet for the five billion Asians who have been waiting patiently for the uber-Westernized Moodle to make itself universally usable–what is called “Additional/Alternate Names Fields”. This new feature allows schools to use the normal multi-scripted names that we use in Japan, China, India and elsewhere. Every Japanese spells their name in four scripts but until now, Moodle forced them and their school to choose one.

    By the way, this is another example of community influence and funding of a new feature. This has been championed by the not-for-profit, public community called the Moodle Association of Japan for many years. After forming an NGO, the Moodle Association began donating 50% of its proceeds to Moodle HQ. Many conversations later, Martin, Michael, Adrian and others got busy and pushed it through. Thanks, guys!