Moodle 2 – What’s New For You? Episode 1: First Impressions

What is new in Moodle version 2? Was it worth the wait? What problems does it solve?

Overview


Moodle 2 - What's New For You?In December 2010, after a long wait, Moodle version 2 was released. I’d had a few looks at the beta version until then, but I decided that to give the new Moodle its fairest chance I would wait until the official release. My impression of the beta version (beta impressions?) were that the navigation still needed to be tidied up, and that all the new functionality seemed to be all over the place.

Over the course of the next wee while, I’ll be posting my thoughts of Moodle 2 as I get to know it and explore its new features.

First – who am I? As well as editing this stop-start website, I am a partner in The New Curiosity Shop. We do two main things:

1. Offer online courses in a range of subjects

2. provide consultancy, training and workshops in the area of online and technology enhanced learning – elearning if you must.

I’ve been doing this for many a year now, and one thread that links these two is Moodle. We set up The New Curiosity Shop in 2003 and we chose Moodle then. A chunk of our consultancy has been based around Moodle. We’re currently using Moodle 1.9.x,  and naturally we need to keep abreast of Moodle developments.

The topics I’ll look at include:

  • Installation/Upgrading
  • Navigation
  • Conditional Activities
  • ActivityCompletion
  • Repositories
  • The File Picker
  • New Editor
  • Messaging
  • New Block Management
  • Comments Block
  • Community Hubs
  • Cohorts
  • eportfolio integration

This list may alter as I progess.

To see what is new in Moodle 2 you should take a look at the Moodle 2 Release Notes.

Please feel free to make comments, especially if you are either wondering about moving to Moodle 2 or are in the process of looking around Moodle 2 yourself.

 

Installation/Upgrade


This is not a technical ‘backend’ look at Moodle 2. Let’s just say here that installation was a reasonably straightforward process, although I had to do some tweaking to the MySQL database. The installation of Moodle I was upgrading has been around the block a few times, so it was overdue a little tender loving care. The installation process took great pains to make sure that the PHP was up to to the task of running Moodle too, and that the web server was secure and ready. Very re-assuring, if a little picky at times.

There: I’ll leave the technicians to scratch their heads at that!

The upgrading process also converted the courses from 1.9x format to a new Moodle 2 format. This took a little time, and I was working on a Moodle with only half dozen courses. I am yet to pluck up the courage to convert a bigger Moodle.

My thinking was that we would create a pristine, shiny new Moodle 2 and then transfer courses from our current Moodle to the new one, and hence leave some of the old dusty courses behind. But we can’t. The only official way to convert a course from Moodle 1.9 format to 2.0 is with a whole Moodle installation upgrade.
Thunk.
So, if you are thinking of moving to Moodle 2, it’s all or nothing. For the moment anyway: Moodle HQ does say they will release a course conversion tool later on in the year.

The conversion process seemed okay, but again, the courses were not only small in number but short in stature too. (cos I planned to upgrade course by course but I can’t).

So, how does the new Moodle look? Click on the First Impressions tab to find out..

 

First Impressions

First Impressions

Because this was a new installation, Moodle defaults to a basic white theme. My first thoughts as I rushed into this like the Whale in Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy rushing to the ground, was, “what buttons do I press? What are all these little arrows?  What is this long list?   What command goes with what?” Other thoughts too: “how the heck do I keep this simple for learners? How do I explain all this in tutor workshops?”

Now I know I’m logged in as the administrator, and there should be lots of options that civvy users won’t see, I guess, but ye gods, where do I begin?

But this is the first impression, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Take a look, though at this video clip to give you an idea of what I faced.

After that first sense of disorientation, I thought I’d better just take it slowly, see if I can’t make some sense out of this. Let’s find out. Look out for Episode 2 of this journey, when I navigate my way around Moodle 2.

 
 

Episode: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

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