We’re excited to announce the launch of MoodleNet in April 2019 – an open social media platform for educators. MoodleNet will connect educators worldwide and provide them with a space where they can curate and share resources, as well as collaborate to create collections of open educational assets.
Today, we speak with Doug Belshaw, Project Lead of MoodleNet, about the goals of the project, the story behind it and how Moodlers and educators can get involved with it before it opens for registrations.
Moodle HQ: Hi Doug! Thanks for taking time to talk to us today. You’ve been busy working on the MoodleNet project for over a year, how would you describe MoodleNet?
Doug: We’re currently describing MoodleNet as a “new open social media platform for educators, focussed on professional development and open content”. To begin with, that’s going to mean giving educators the opportunity to join or create communities in order to curate collections of resources.
From there, we’re planning a whole range of things, including improved social features, Open Badges, and crowdfunding. But we want to test this initial value proposition about educators joining communities to curate resources.
Moodle HQ: Where did the idea for MoodleNet come from?
Doug: Martin Dougiamas, Moodle’s Founder and CEO, travels the world continually, attending MoodleMoots and other gatherings of educators and technologists. After many conversations, he realised that the Moodle community, and educators in general, need a better place to connect with one another.
I came onboard in November 2017 and spent the first six months augmenting Martin’s hunch with research, discussions with experts, and designing various options. What came out of that was the need for something in between two ends of a spectrum: on the one hand, educators spend time proactively searching for resources, while on the other, they reactively (or randomly) discover resources shared on various social networks.
As a result, I felt that there was the opportunity for something in the middle; a place for educators to come together specifically to share the best resources on a given topic or subject. In May 2018, we worked with Outlandish during a design sprint in London to really dig into this idea. The result formed the basis for the first iteration of MoodleNet.
Moodle HQ: Who is MoodleNet for?
Doug: First and foremost, MoodleNet is for educators. However, given that the platform will actually be resource-agnostic, there’s no reason why Moodle Partners couldn’t use it to showcase their top Moodle Core plugins, for example. I can also imagine Learning Technologists using MoodleNet to share the best resources for getting the most out of MoodleCloud.
Moodle HQ: What does MoodleNet actually do?
Doug: In its first iteration, MoodleNet, invites users to join or create communities to curate collections of resources. As an example, I used to be a History teacher, and I can imagine sharing my favourite resources for 1066 and the Battle of Hastings. Other educators may come along and join in, adding their resources into the mix, and discussing the resources with me.
During the pilot phase of testing up until April 2019, users will be accessing MoodleNet through Moodle HQ-provided servers. However, one of the reasons it’s taken six months to build MoodleNet after the design sprint last year, is that we’re building it to be a federated social network. In practice, that means that, just like Moodle Core, organisations will be able to host their own MoodleNet instance, but thanks to federation their users will also be able to connect, talk, and share content with users and communities on all of the other instances, if they wish.
Moodle HQ: Some of our community members might be wondering: what is happening to the existing moodle.net site?
Doug: After a lot of conversation about this both internally at Moodle HQ and with community members, we’ve decided to keep the existing functionality going for now. The existing moodle.net functionality is built-in to Moodle Core, and we are still testing the new MoodleNet.
So, coming soon, there will be a new page at moodle.net telling the world about MoodleNet. However, the old service will still be functioning and available at hub.moodle.org.
Moodle HQ: So when can people start using MoodleNet?
Doug: We’ve put out a call for testers today. We’ll first be inviting 100 educators to test MoodleNet and help us iron out the biggest bugs or design flaws, and then, next month, we’re looking to increase that to 1,000. Our objective is to open registrations at the UK & Ireland MoodleMoot in April, where we will be both presenting and running a workshop.