Moodle 2.0 Beta Release Coming Soon
The next major version of the Moodle learning management system is nearing its beta release. Curious to see what Moodle 2.0 would offer, I set up a few instances of the development build for testing. I am enthusiastic about the new version based upon what I’ve see, but also anxious. Many of the changes represent a major step forward in the future of the LMS, but upgrading to Moodle 2.0 will be a challenging task for Occidental and many other institutions. I have decided to write briefly about the challenges and opportunities Moodle 2.0 may offer for institutions hoping to upgrade later this year.
Moodle 2.0 will have a very different look and feel. Version 2.0 changes how themes and templates work, allowing for more flexibility. However, custom themes for previous version of Moodle will have to be completely redesigned to work for v. 2.0. Many of the icons used in previous versions of Moodle have also changed, which could pose some obstacles to users.
Redesigned code base. Much of the source code for core Moodle modules has been refactored in v. 2.0, allowing for improved extensibility (as if Moodle wasn’t already highly extensible!). However, custom code and extra modules may need to be rewritten to work in Moodle 2.0. What’s more, backups for Moodle 1.9 and below will not restore into v. 2.0. The Moodle development team is working hard at getting the restore features to work properly. Until then, these code updates are sure to cause frustration to Moodle admins.
Improved HTML editor. Moodle 2.0 will have the TinyMCE HTML editor installed in place of the “HTML Area” editor from previous iterations of Moodle. This editor will work on all modern browsers and allow for easier editing and updating of Moodle resources. (Ever try copying and pasting a Word document into an old version of Moodle? This new editor will give you readable text and sensible HTML code!)
New commenting features. Moodle 2.0 allows learners to comment on everything. It will be possible to add comments to almost every resource type and activity in v. 2.0. This functionality will allow for better collaboration throughout a Moodle course and create a very rich learning environment.
Improved modules from past versions. The workshop module has been rewritten for Moodle 2.0, adding more opportunities for peer-review and robust interaction within courses. Developers are also enhancing the messaging features and the wiki within Moodle 2.0.
New navigational structure. This can be a double edge sword – There is improved AJAX functionality and a consistent navigation block available across every course, which could allow for easier transitioning between Moodle courses, among other things. These changes may be difficult to get used to (I’m still adjusting to them in my testing).
Rewritten File and Database APIs. Moodle 2.0 will offer support for more database platforms, will store files in a different way, and allow for improved file security. All pluses in my book.
Gradebook improvements. I have not experimented with these features but I have read that there will be some impressive updates for the Moodle gradebook. For more information on Moodle 2.0, please visit the Moodle Roadmap.
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