A look back at MoodleMoot UK and Ireland 2017
Posted on 20th April, 2017 by Mark Aberdour
LEO sponsored and attended MoodleMoot UK and Ireland 2017 last week, held in London this year. It was great to connect with attendees and see what’s going on in the wider Moodle world, from analytics to plug-ins.
A big trend this year was learning analytics. Moodle HQ gave an overview of Project Inspire, the new learning analytics program being run by Moodle. Organisations can sign up to Project Inspire and anonymously share their data with Moodle HQ to help ‘train’ their artificial intelligence platform with real-world learning data and, in particular, to help identify which ‘indicators’ have the most predictive power. In return, these organisations will receive a benchmarking report and will have access to influence the analytics tool as it evolves. The vision is to be able to analyse vast quantities of learning-related data in order to help increase the chances of successful learning outcomes for Moodle learners. Watch out for these features starting to arrive in Moodle 3.3 from May 2017.
LEO were actively engaging the conference on related topics. LEO’s Director of Technology, Sacha van Tienhoven, sat on the Artificial Intelligence panel on Wednesday morning, alongside Blackboard, Solent University and Moodle HQ. The panel discussion replaced the keynote for the day so had the full conference audience in attendance for what turned out to be stimulating and thought provoking discussion about the use of AI in learning, regularly crossing over into the learning analytics subject area too. Twitter was buzzing during this particular session and it was hard keeping track of two conversations at times.
I presented with Sacha later that morning on “Moodle and xAPI: The story so far”. We looked at the adoption of xAPI within the learning technologies sector and within the Moodle ecosystem specifically. The question at hand is where xAPI will head alongside other emerging learning technology standards and how xAPI may be used as we adopt learning analytics frameworks that Moodle needs to plug into. We also touched on how xAPI can be used to move data around a modern learning ecosystem – especially when the ecosystem contains many differing products used for distinct learning tasks. LEO produced a large poster for the event’s poster wall to visualise this point.
Peter Dobinson, Solutions Architect at LEO, presented on ‘Measuring the impact of learning in Moodle’ and provided a seven-point programme to run an analytics-driven measurement program – full of practical tips to get started. Echoing a key message we heard from other analytics presenters, a key point was just to get started with what you have, learn as you go and improve/refine over time.
On the subject of mobile learning, there were good sessions on using the Moodle mobile app, customising the app with branding and plug-ins, and more. There was also a panel discussion on this subject which Peter was invited to join, again in front of a full-house conference audience and a busy Twitter backchannel, stimulating lots of good discussion about the use of mobiles in education. We heard strong support for mobiles in teaching.
The wider conference programme was packed full of useful practitioner sessions and developer sessions. Within the practitioner streams, we saw topics on activity types (Quiz was a very popular topic, as ever), using rich media with Moodle and making content accessible. From the developer sessions, we saw topics like performance, plug-in building, contributing bug fixes and building new themes.
A popular session format is the pecha kucha (20 timed slides at 20 seconds each) and these were a great success this year with participants obviously practicing well in advance and breezing through their slides with no comedy timing disasters.
MoodleMoot is very much a training and education conference rather than a pushy sales exhibition, so sponsors such as LEO were actively contributing to sessions rather than selling. We quite enjoyed engaging with the conference participants through the various presentations and panel discussions. Although LEO did have a stand in the sponsor area and a sponsor presentation in a side room for those interested in talking to us about our services, the real value at this event was in the networking with other delegates and in educating our own team on what’s going on in the wider Moodle world. We had a handful of key clients at the event and it was great to engage with them too on different ground, away from the hustle and bustle of the projects we usually work on together.
Mark Aberdour is LEO’s Platform Solutions Manager.
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