Those who've been waiting for the release of Moodle 2.0 are getting their open source just rewards this week. The release, which has been met already with several delays, is a "beta preview" -- which is to say, not yet a stable release, but a functional template of what's in store for early adopters (note that Moodle HQ will be releasing weekly updates as the code matures as a series of beta previews leading up to the stable release¹).
Development has stretched over the last two years and many core Moodle features will be significantly changed. Let's take a look at why this is a major milestone for the popular LMS.
The major headlines are that this release focuses on making Moodle more accessible to 3rd party developers and web services. Though pre-2.0 releases have been integrated with hundreds of modules, plug-ins and other open source and proprietary projects, this release marks a major shift in the accessibility of information stored within and gathered through the LMS.
It contains a huge number of core changes to the platform, most of which are designed to give 3rd party developers more flexibility, scalability and safety.²
In addition to the Repository, Portfolio and File APIs which will allow 3rd party developers to tap, manage and manipulate Moodle's site and user data, major aesthetic and usability issues are also being addressed,
- TinyMCE has been selected over the HTMLarea text editor, eliminating some pesky browser compatibility issues
- New navigation options have been provided to unclutter Moodle pages
- A new theme base is being provided to increase the flexibility of page layouts
- Several core activities have been rewritten and updated (including the collaborative, but previously buggy Workshop module)
Moodle 2.0 will also introduce several enhancements, including
- Conditional, rule based availability of activities
- Commenting on Moodle blogs
- A major upgrade to the Quiz
- A major upgrade to the Wiki
Perhaps the biggest news of this release is that 2.0 will create a new community sharing resource for courses materials. The Community Hub³ has a two-fold mission:
- Create a Moodle-based market place of courses and learning objects available for enrollment (paid or not) world wide
- Provide a means for teachers to post, review, appropriate and remix Moodle course templates from the community at large.
This could be a major game changer in the world of online course management systems. No other platform has yet successfully collected and pooled resources into one easy to access repository. Even if the hub falls short of expectations, the courses made available to the community at large will mark it a success. However, in a few years Moodle users may be sitting on the web's largest repository of open educational resources (all ready to install in their own Moodle classroom).
Not all of the features listed here or on Moodle.org's roadmap will make the Beta Preview release, but the roadmap and vision show that the community has big plans for the future of Moodle LMS.