With over a decade of experience as a prominent Moodler, being a Moodle HQ alumni, and now serving as a developer at Moodle Partner Titus Learning, Marcus Green faced a thorny request from Nord Anglia Education (a 25-country, 8,000-employee, 54-location strong international K-12 education provider.) While NAE was willing to welcome Titus expertise to take over its LMS and overhaul its visual appeal, failure to comply with certain demands, some of them part of Green’s M.O., would mean that fifty-thousand students would be switching LMS away from Moodle. NAE’s first request was no modifications to the Moodle core, something for which Green just might be the Moodleverse’s fiercest advocate. Despite a long track record of awards, including a 2017 recognition as “Exporter of the Year” at the BETT conference in London, satisfying NAE’s specifications would amount for Titus, and Green personally, achieving their greatest achievement yet. A late release of Green’s recount of the events last March in Glasgow was recently made available on the official Moodle HQ YouTube channel.
Other requests, while still challenging, were familiar, such as a fully mobile experience, with a branded theme that was also responsive to different screen sizes. Green’s mastery in fine-tuning Moodle, which in this case he would not be able to practice, seemed to be giving him an acute sense of what the clients want, often before they realize it themselves. For NAE, he also found a way to put it succinctly: “Know where you are.” Students are in a journey, which NAE accompanies throughout their early lives, and the dashboard’s ability to show them perspective, of how far they have gone and what is ahead of them, is perhaps the youngsters’ most important privilege.
EdTech that does not pretend to have all the answers (which is a good thing)
The technological evolution of Titus has been a staple of its history, but the recent changes in Moodle’s focus towards student-centered design have bolstered their own ideas about what students should find whenever they open Moodle, access their coursework, and interact with others on the site. But during the development and implementation period, they ran into a “wall.” The promising course dashboard, which Moodle debuted a little over a year ago, seemed to be getting stale quickly. Maybe it looks too businesslike. Or as Green’s research revealed, students describe it as “intimidating.” After several ideas and attempts thrown around, it became clear that the problem was not the wall itself, but how little control students had over it. That was the beginning of the development of a “Social Wall,” where the artifacts hanging were not paltry decorations, but windows to other people and interests. The Social Wall became an “ice-breaker,” an expression space, a multimedia playground.
As the concept of Social Wall (not to be confused with the Socialwall Format plugin) evolves, students find Moodle inspiring, and new features let teachers interact for connection, encouragement, and safety’s sake. If the idea of gains traction, perhaps the future of EdTech is not in polished layouts, but in canvasses that reflect students’ interests and speak back to them.
This Moodle Practice related post is made possible by: eThink Education, a Certified Moodle Partner that provides a fully-managed Moodle experience including implementation, integration, cloud-hosting, and management services. To learn more about eThink, click here.