User:David Scotson

From MoodleDocs

An E-learning Technologist / software developer working for the University of Glasgow as part of the newly formed Learning and Teaching Centre.

My profile at

Me and MoodleDocs

I gave a talk about Moodle recently to some of our IT support teams, one of the main points of which was was a great project MoodleDocs was (or at that time 'was going to be'), and how it could be a 'killer app' for Moodle i.e. so good that people use Moodle rather than alternatives simply because the documentation is so good. It's certainly the case that when we evaluated Moodle, the strong community support was a key deciding factor (it's a fruitless chicken and egg question whether the quality of Moodle attracted the strong community or the strong community contributed to the quality of Moodle, obviously they re-inforce each other). Having a commited, passionate community building documentation in a wiki just seemed like such a great idea, especially as I was aware of how much great info was 'hidden' within the postings of the Using Moodle forums, and the shared urge to teach/share that drives much of that. As I'm one of those people who loves to say 'I told you so!' when things turn out as I predict them to and, more importantly, because I think lack of good documentation is one of the areas holding back widespread adoption of e-learning/Moodle, I thought I'd get involved.

I'm particularly interested in:

  • the social/community aspects of the project (including it's role as a community of practice)
  • how the documentation caters to different audiences (dev/admin/teacher/student) while at the same time supporting/encouraging people to move between (or at least understand) different roles
  • effective use of hypertext/web/wiki medium (meaning both collaborative text writing and using hyperlinks to break up and interwingle content)
  • the interaction between the project websites, forums, databases, and this wiki

Things I've learned, realised or had brought home to me through contributing to this Wiki

prose versus lists

Short version: lists win every time. They:

  • allow others to easily interject, add to or edit your contributions, without having to untangle your text. Even editing your own text as you add things can turn into a scene reminiscent of Monty Python: "NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four* *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again."
  • make following step-by-step lists easy, aiding readability and scan-ability
  • act as an open invite for other others to contribute (I think at least part of this is to do with depersonalisation, which sounds bad, but in a collaborative wiki text is necessary for effective copy-editing for clarity, length etc.)
  • can be easily scannable indexes, into various documentation sub-topics.

singular versus plural

  • MediaWiki seems to have a slight technical preference for singular names of articles. You can use [[Module]]s and [[Quiz]]zes when you need to use a plural in a sentence instead of [[Modules|Module]] and [[Quizzes|Quiz]] if the page is pluralised
  • Categories, when used as lists, make more sense (to me at least) as plurals, but means possibly having two similar very terms e.g. if themes is a list of Moodle Themes, then what do you use for Theme related content? Themeing?


The stats page linked off the frontpage is very cool, particularly the number of registered users. I'd love it if these could be graphed over time.

The Alexa (recently bought by Amazon) stats are also interesting, showing 14% of traffic to going to the docs.moodle subdomain. Again graphing this over time would be interesting I might make manual notes myself for a rough tally. Current standings are:

28 Apr 2006

  • ~ 70%
  • ~ 14%
  • ~ 7%
  • ~ 4%
  • ~ 3%
  • Other websites ~ 2%

27 Nov 2007

  • ~ 64%
  • ~ 21%
  • ~ 6%
  • = 4%
  • ~ 2%
  • ~ 3%

Mediawiki supports RSS and Atom

The RSS and Atom feeds are a good way to keep up with what's going on, though they don't seem very discoverable and the Atom feed, which I would generally prefer doesn't seem to display as nicely and the RSS one, at least on Safari.

more info, and a list of other available feeds e.g new pages

To-do list

A list of things for me to think/do something about in MoodleDocs:

  • highlighted article category (like Wikipedia)
  • list of standards that Moodle supports
  • more info on ways to contribute
  • Jargon page
  • fix the database so searches for three-letter words work
  • ...

Docs topics for Uk MoodleMoot 06

  • Search stuff
    • how to recompile MySQL to fix searching for 3 letter words
    • adding OpenSearch to Mediawiki
    • Google Sitemaps
  • usage statistics
    • why 3,605 registered users in Special:Listusers but 1,060 registered users in Special:Statistics?
    • How many non-registered users does the 2% increase in share of visitors (from 14-16% in last few months according to [1]) represent in actual no. of people?
    • How popular are our Special:Popularpages and how meaningful are those numbers (tangent: long tail graph for pages?)
    • How do we measure success? Are our users finding what they are looking for? Are we helping people to help themselves?
  • Misc
    • redirect to
    • personally thank contributors