Right now, the plan for 2019 is:
- Open applications to the beta testing programme
- Create two HQ-run MoodleNet instances (English and Spanish)
- Invite 100 people to take part in the testing, based on meeting certain criteria (language, location, experience, etc.)
- Receive daily/regular feedback from these 100 testers, and improve MoodleNet iteratively
- Once we're happy with progress, give 10 invites to each test user, increasing the number of people using MoodleNet to 1,000
- Test federation between HQ-run instances
- Continue iteration based on feedback
- Start developing Moodle Core plugin
- Test Moodle Core plugin
- Test federation with non-HQ instances
- Integrate Moodle Core plugin in 3.7
Approach to testing
Why does MoodleNet exist?
MoodleNet exists to better connect the existing Moodle community, and also to attract new educators. To date, the only Moodle-provided way for educators and other users to share content has been within their Moodle Core installation, backing up and importing activities, or by sharing entire courses. MoodleNet will be an upgrade to this, connecting educators via a Moodle-provided open social media platform which focuses on professional development and open content.
What is the value proposition we're testing?
We have done some Value Proposition Design for different groups using MoodleNet and have decided that it will begin life as a place for educators to curate and share collections of resources. Our hypothesis is that the problem of discovery for educators cannot be solved by simply providing a more powerful search engine for the millions of resources already available. This is for at least three reasons:
- Learning is a social activity - and likewise teaching should be something that is not done entirely on one's own
- Search engines rely on already knowing what you're looking for - which is not always the case when planning a lesson, scheme of work, or course
- Individual resources exist in a wider context - including their relation to other resources, the educator's approach to learning, and where the 'classroom' is located
Initially, then, MoodleNet will be a simple web-based application allowing educators to form communities that curate collections of resources. Most of these, we imagine, will be free and openly-licensed, although MoodleNet will be resource-agnostic. Uploading resources directly to MoodleNet is out of scope for the first phase of testing, as we need to decide our approach to file hosting.
How are we going to test MoodleNet?
In early January 2019, we'll put out a call for educators to be involved in MoodleNet testing. We can use something simple such as a Google Form for this, ensuring that there is a privacy notice that they have to agree to on the application.
We're looking for a diverse mix of educators, with our only limiting factor being their ability to speak English and/or Spanish. The kind of information we're looking to capture to make a selection includes:
- Location (country)
- Languages(s) spoken
- Current role
- Subject area(s)
- Teaching experience (years)
- Moodle experience (years)
- Resource-sharing sites currently used
- Social networks currently used
- Reason(s) for wanting to be involved in testing
We're interested in every aspect of how they decide to use MoodleNet, including:
- The communities and collections they decide to create
- What type of collections they create (subject-based? topic-based? other?)
- The number and type of communities they decide to join
- How and when they use tags
- What kind of comments they add in collections
- How they respond to a 10-item limit on resource collections
Who is going to be involved in the testing?
The plan is to recruit 100 people to test MoodleNet. Although we need learning technologists, system administrators, and other techies to test it eventually, our initial focus should be on early-adopter educators. These will agree our Guidelines for Contributors and agree to give us regular feedback.
We should aim to have 50 people on the English-speaking HQ MoodleNet instance, and 50 people on the Spanish-speaking instance. On both, we need a mix of:
- Moodlers / non-Moodlers
- Experienced / inexperienced teachers
- Experience with other social networks and OER repositories
- Educational sectors
When will the testing take place? what comes next?
The first phase of testing MoodleNet is scheduled to begin week beginning January 21st. We need to have a testing period long enough that allows us to observe behaviours and make changes, but short enough so that it's a focused effort. Therefore, we're proposing a three-week period from Monday 21st January to Monday 11th February.
After this, we need to test at least three more things:
- Inviting a new cohort of users - we're envisaging that this will be done by giving every existing (active) user 10 invites. That theoretically takes us from 100 to 1,000 users of MoodleNet.
- Federation - first of all we can test this between HQ-run instances, but we then need to allow users and organisations to set up their own MoodleNet instances
- Moodle plugin - users should be able to send MoodleNet collections to their Moodle Core installation, and resources from Moodle Core to MoodleNet
The last of these is not well-scoped yet, for a variety of reasons. However, we're aiming for the Moodle plugin to be integrated into Moodle Core 3.7 in May 2019. The major blocker is a decision to be made about how to deal with uploaded resources. Previous proposals around Moodle Core installations hosting files have been rejected, as this was based on initial testing with MoodleCloud.
Where will users go to test MoodleNet and give their feedback?
There will be two HQ-run MoodleNet instances that beta testers can sign up to. We are planning for feedback to be captured in several ways:
- In-situ - when testers perform an action such as create a community, add a resource, or make a comment, they will have the opportunity to give feedback on the experience (including suggestions to improve it). This is for tweaks to the existing functionality and interface.
- Changemap - when testers have requests around new functionality, integrations, or approach, they can use this tool.
- Forum - more public feedback and wider philosophical speculations can be posted to the existing MoodleNet forum
This section is a work in progress.
Pilot (100 users)
Although MoodleNet will eventually feature a lot more functionality, in the first instance we're aiming to test a very specific value proposition: do educators want to join communities to curate collections of resources?
So for this initial test, users will be able to:
- Create a profile
- Create, join, and leave a community
- Create, add to, and follow collections
- Add resources to collections
- Start (and reply to) discussions within communities and collections
- Be notified about activity within joined communities, followed collections (+recommendations)
- Moderate a community (basic)
Pilot (1,000) users
We'll be continuing to iterate based on user feedback during the pilot, using Changemap. In addition to this, we have planned the ability for users to:
- Invite someone to create a MoodleNet account
- Sign-in with social accounts
- Follow other users
- Add other users to a contact list
- View a list other users' joined communities and followed collections via their profile
- Flag a resource/collection/community/profile as inappropriate
- Provide additioanl community moderator functionality
- Show 'related' communities and collections
- Like/favourite/star comments within communities and collections
- Like/favourite/star resources within collections
- Select a tag to find related communities, collections, and profiles
- Be reminded to post and keep their profile up-to-date by 'MoodleBot'
By the time we allow anyone to register, we want MoodleNet to be federated. This is something that we've been building towards since the start, and means that anyone will be able to install their own MoodleNet instance and have it be part of the wider MoodleNet network. So there's a lot of technical work to do with that, but by this stage we envisage users will be able to:
- Set up their own MoodleNet instance and connect to the wider network via ActivityPub
- Create an Emoji ID to help with identity across federated instances
- Use an admin interface to control sharing within an instance or community
- Easily share a link to a community, collection, or profile on social media
- Search for resources
- See 'recent activity' on user profiles (likes, follows, discussions, last active)
- Invite someone from your contact list to join a community
- Block other users
- Pull in resources from third-party sites via API (e.g. Creative Commons Beta Search)
- Send a MoodleNet collection to a Moodle Core site