From the June 2010 issue of Penny For Your Thoughts newsletter…
Moodle 2.0 (scheduled for release next month) is a big change from version 1.9x. I’ve had a chance to play around with it for a couple of weeks now, and the one thing that strikes me hardest is this: a lot of what I thought would be easier, isn’t. I thought it would be more “intuitive” or easier for a novice to create content. It isn’t. I think this is a good thing. Over the past 30 years I’ve seen some really great software applications die because some easier (albeit mediocre) version came out. Easy is usually at odds with powerful; it might be easier to create charts in that oh-so-popular spreadsheet program, but most of what comes out is junk. What we want is an LMS application that is powerful in its ability to produce high quality output, yet easy for the student to use. So far it seems that Moodle is more powerful… on the creation side and easier on the student side.
One of the best new features of 2.0 is the ability to create conditions for every page or activity created. It is possible to build a complex relationship amongst pages and activities within a course, such that each appears only when other conditions (grades) have been achieved. While this is a very cool thing to do, and truly an enhancement to the instructional design capabilities of Moodle, it is certainly not easier. To use this feature effectively will require even more planning and an even deeper understanding of how people learn.
A new block, Private Files, promises to make the students’ lives a lot easier. It provides a place for storage and retrieval of one’s own personal files within any Moodle course (or site). I can see this as being huge for on-the-go learning, especially for mobile devices without the storage capacity of laptops and desktops. The students will be able to access their work from anywhere and have a super reliable storage medium.
I am continuing to work through the “new Moodle” with a fine tooth comb and will be regularly posting reviews of each feature (new and lost) over the next few weeks. I had been waiting for the new release to do some long-overdue upgrading of my existing courses (first written in 1.6). That was really just an excuse to procrastinate because I never upgrade to anything new when it first comes out! It will be awhile before we know which modules and plug-ins will work with 2.0, what new ones will be released, and just how to use them all to our advantage. Keep up to date on my Moodle 2.0 reviews by following me.