Learning Management Systems | News

Moodle 2.0 Boosts Integration and Web 2.0 Features

Following more than two years of development, the Moodle community has formally released Moodle 2.0, a major update to the popular open source learning management system.

Moodle is a widely adopted electronic learning platform, one that boasts greater reported usage than any other open source or commercial LMS. It's used by about 1.1 million teachers and more than 38 million users via 49,000 sites worldwide. Those users participate in some 3.9 million total courses as of this writing. Moodle supports both small and large deployments (with several sites well beyond 100,000 users) and includes course management tools, various Web 2.0 technologies, online assessments, and other features common to learning management systems.

The latest 2.0 release, formally launched last week (Thanksgiving day), adds a wide range of new capabilities as well as improvements to the core functionality found in earlier releases. Moodle 2.0 allows users to set up "community hubs," which are searchable directories of courses for public or private use that allow teachers to publish and advertise their own courses. It also adds support for standards-based Web services throughout, cohorts (groups of users that can be enrolled in a course through a single action), prerequisites, and conditions for course completion. And it adds new content block types, including comments for any page, community monitoring, status updates, and private files.

Version 2.0 also emphasizes integration with third-party and external tools. Among these:

  • Plagiarism and detection tools, such as Turnitin;
  • Content repositories via plugins (currently for "Alfresco, Amazon S3, Box.net, File system on Server, Flickr, Google Docs, Mahara, MERLOT, Picasa, Recent Files, Remote Moodle sites, WebDAV servers, Wikimedia, [and] Youtube," according to Moodle's documentation), as well as the ability to add files from external stores via an AJAX interface or by specifying a URL; and
  • Electronic portfolios, which, like external repositories, can be integrated via plugins (for Box.net, Flickr, Google Docs, Mahara, and Picasa) or through export modules, with support currently available for HTML, image, text, and LEAP2A formats.

Moodle 2.0 also includes a number of improvements to features carried over from the previous generation. These include:

  • A new TinyMCE-based HTML editor with a resizable editor window and "cleaner" XHTML output;
  • Improvements to messaging, including a message overview panel;
  • More flexibility with themes, including custom menus for all themes;
  • Enhanced assessment tools, including improved navigation, reports, editing, and administration;
  • General improvements to RSS;
  • Simplification of roles and improvements to defining and assigning roles;
  • Enhanced backups, which now support courses of any size;
  • Blog comments and support for external blogs;
  • Overall improvements to enrollments, including guest accounts and multiple simultaneous forms of enrollment;
  • More robust fIle handling, including unicode file names, metadata, file associations, and duplicates; and
  • Improved navigation and settings blocks, which now appear on all pages with contextual links and settings.

Moodle lead developer Martin Dougiamas said in a blog post Thursday that development had already begun on version 2.0.1, with a particular emphasis on "performance and robustness." He added: "We are also switching the whole project from CVS to git and taking the opportunity to significantly improve our entire development process with more staff and better structures and workflow."

Aside from individual efforts, Moodle partners in the United States that contributed funding or code to the development of version 2.0 included ClassroomRevolution.com, Moodlerooms, NewSchool Learning, and Remote-Learner USA. (A total of 51 partners from around the world contributed.)

Moodle 2.0 supports PHP 5.2.8 (5.3.3 recommended); a minimum of MySQL 5.0.25, PostgreSQL 8.3, Oracle 10.2, or Microsoft SQL Server 2005; and most recent browsers, regardless of platform, including Safari 3, Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 3, Chrome 4, or Opera 9. Complete details of version 2.0, including a full list of bug fixes and system requirements, can be found on Moodle's release notes page here. The final release can be downloaded here.

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