Last week was summer in Adelaide and the perfect setting for the first Moodle-Mahara Meetup. Organizers Allison Miller, Carole McCulloch and Box Hill Institute did a fantastic job pulling everything together and hosting a wonderful day showcasing the LMS Moodle and the ePortfolio system Mahara.

Being a member of the core Mahara development team, I love hearing and seeing how people use the software and what they create with it. In this case, the integration with Moodle, a LMS that we also work with at Catalyst IT, played a big part because both systems complement each other nicely.

Thanks to Allison’s reshuffling of my workshop session, I could participate in Shane Nuessler‘s Moodle-Mahara design workshop. Shane explains his workshop very well in his blog post. I liked that it was a true workshop and not a pretend one as we see so often at conferences. Something is labeled a workshop, but essentially it is a long presentation or a series of presentations. Shane had us work in groups and brainstorm ideas in a fast pace.

We only presented our final ideas for the Moodle-Mahara integration and then had a blind voting on it by closing our eyes while Shane counted votes. That was the only point in the workshop when only Shane was talking and otherwise it was quiet. For the rest of the time the room was buzzing with activity and discussions.

Jotting down our answers to his questions on sticky notes that we then put on the windows or walls, I wished we had had time to spend on the sticky notes that weren’t just our ideas as well to see if there were any other commonalities between our distinct groups. As we only had 45 minutes and needed every minute of it for our group work, there was only time to talk about the improvements that we would like to make to the integration. I can imagine a similar workshop with more time on our hands where we share more during the design process to identify common themes that could then be worked on.

An alternative to the voting for an entire team in the end would be to vote for the best three ideas no matter in which team they originated.

Following are a few ideas from the workshop that stuck with me in particular. As I see a lot of wishes for Mahara in our bug and wishlist tracker, some are more familiar to me than others. Here are some that should be added:

  • Tagging assessment tasks with key outcomes as per the curriculum (Moodle and / or Mahara depending on where the assessment takes place).
  • Submit assessments as a group in Mahara. More on this in my next post.
  • Have (feedback) notifications on your mobile device.
  • Help buttons should have clear information on what is going to happen next.

One group also said to start with Mahara and not Moodle and make Mahara the main platform because that is where the artifacts will live longer and because it’s the space where students have the control over their content.

We could have found many more ideas than we had put on the sticky notes, but having to limit ourselves to our top 3 really brought out the essence and the most important ones to go from.

In my next post I’ll summarize my brainstorming session for the Mahara assignment submission plugin.

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