In my presentation at the UK MoodleMoot earlier this year I raised a number of questions about what the OU is going to do next with our Virtual Learning Environment – and I’ve been meaning to say something about how we’re answering those questions.
To cut to the chase, we are going to stick with Moodle, and we are planning to use Moodle 2 very significantly closer to its ‘out of the box’ form.
During the summer we commissioned a review of Moodle and a number of possible alternatives in both the commercial and open-source markets, and eventually came to the view that, for the OU, continuing with Moodle was the right way forward. However, we do recognise that we made too many localisations in our adoption of Moodle 1.x – we will be making substantially fewer with Moodle 2.x.
We also guessed, back in the early summer, that Moodle 2 probably wasn’t going to make it out the door until sometime in the Autumn (at the earliest), and we’ve been assuming that there wouldn’t be a proper/stable Moodle 2.0 release until about the turn of the year.
Our plan, at this point, is to have a fairly complete new OUVLE in place in March 2011. This will be based on Moodle 2 and will have most (but probably not all) of the major OU contribs we developed for Moodle 1.x migrated to run in Moodle 2. We’re not intending that this release gets used with our learner community; it will be primarily used for testing, particularly to allow us to be confident that Moodle 2 will be able to carry the load we expect. At the moment our Moodle 1.9 installation is seeing something like 1,000,000 transactions (from 50,000 users) a day and these numbers are both still increasing.
The first student-ready release of our new OUVLE will come online in June 2011, with a follow-up release in September 2011. We’re planning to run the new OUVLE alongside the existing Moodle-1.9-based OUVLE for at least 12 months, and we’ll be gradually moving students over to the new OUVLE during that period.
The new OUVLE will also have significantly more facilities than the current VLE. In addition to enhancing a number of the standard tools that we use (the OU versions of the forum, blog and wiki, and the new quiz engine that will be part of Moodle 2.1) we’re also carrying out a programme of developments to improve (i) Moodle’s support for mobile devices, (ii) integration with Google Apps for Education, (iii) facilities for both personalisation and the handling of user generated content.