|Moodle MNET KAKENHI Grant Team!|
L-R Akinobu Kanda, Mari Yamauchi,
Thom Rawson, Hideto Harashima
In the second session of the day, the Moodle KAKENHI Team consisting of Hideto Harashima of Maebashi Institute of Technology (and also the current standing Moodle Japan President), Akinobu Kanda of Tokyo Metropolitan University, Mari Yamauchi of Chiba University of Commerce, and I (Thom Rawson of the Prefectural University of Nagasaki) presented on our ongoing collaborative Moodle project using Moodle Networking (MNET).
The project is a research grant-based study using the MNET functionality to connect universities together and do collaborative projects. Mr. Harashima gave the overview and history of the project at first. From there, he handed the podium to me and I talked about our Local Cultural Exchange Project using PoodLL - 2 universities took part in this project. Students made videos and shared them in a Moodle Forum. The topics of the videos were any local speciality or place. Once the videos were in the forum, the students from two universities rated each other and gave comments.
|Thom and Hideto|
Once the project completed, Ms. Yamauchi discussed the post-project questionnaire and the data collected. She covered the students perceptions of the project including their feeling of an improvement in their communication and presentation skills. The project was perceived positively by most.
Overall, it was a great experience for me to be presenting with three Japanese colleagues. I didn't use much Japanese in my presentation, but by speaking slowly and reiterating some key points I believe I could make myself understood by the mixed audience. I look forward to another chance to present with these folks again!
Adrian Greeve of Moodle HQ in Perth, Australia gave the first keynote address during Day 3. He covered some of the development contributions to Moodle for the benefits of the Japanese Moodle community. In particular he showed us the alternate name fields which is an essential enhancement designed to allow the Japanese names (both Kanji, and Furigana) to be used in Moodle effectively. He also showed us the created Japanese calendar which is sensitive to the different style of date reading used in Japan. He followed those exciting enhancements up with the gamification of courses in Moodle and a comprehensive look at how gamification can work in an online course context.
During that time, I was slightly distracted as I was asked to participate in collecting and counting ballots for the Moodle Awards for Innovations. Although that is an important job, I regretted not being able to take in more of the keynote speech.
After lunch I was able to listen to the second keynote address of the day, Ms. Masumi Hori of the NPO CCC-TIES and Tezukayama University. She spoke controversially on life after MOOC even suggesting that the traditional model for higher education is on the verge of extinction. She talked about the walls broken down by the online education opportunities that have grown since the inception of MOOC. Her talk was animated and interesting as well as being easy to follow even in Japanese thanks to the English slides.
Staffing the Genius Bar
I made an effort to staff the Moodle Genius Bar for a bit in the last set of presentations. It was pretty quiet, but I did get to help out a couple people. The issues were as follows:
- Finished helping install Ubuntu Desktop in Virtualbox VM on an Apple Computer.
- Began a discussion with a first-time Moodler on how to get started using Moodle in the current working environment.
The last keynote address of the conference was given by none other than the President and Director of Moodle, Mr. Martin Dougiamas. He presented live by teleconference from Perth, Australia.
In his keynote, he discussed the future of Moodle from version 2.6, version 2.7 and the next 1000 years! It should be noted that despite having some controversial keynote speeches discussing the future of higher education in the world with the advent of online universities, Martin was quick to start his presentation by emphasizing that Moodle's purpose is not for the removal of the teacher and never has been designed with that in mind. (I wonder if people heard that message or not?)
Some of the features of Moodle 2.7 at a glance:
- The logging system has been rewritten and now allows logging to be stored externally outside of the Moodle database. This should help research and also to help anonymize Moodle more securely in the event that anonymity is required.
- There is a new simplified editor - ATTO - which has been fully integrated into Moodle. Soon the video thumbnail will be visible in the editor. Also there is a new equation editor which allows for complex math equations to be built and inserted into Moodle posts - it is currently a proof of concept.
- 2.7 will be a long-term support release, something people have been asking about for a long time. This version will be supported for 3 years.
The Future of Moodle was also discussed in short by Martin. He talked about Moodle's role in education. Here are some of the bullet points I noted:
- Platform - Plugins, Support
- Analytics and Feedback - Logs, Notifications
- Management - Outcomes, Learning plans, Workflow, Reporting
- Open Content - moodle.net
- Access - Mobile, Non-visual, etc.
The conference closed out with an awards ceremony for innovation, and with some goodbye messages from the MoodleHQ folks. In all, it was a great time had by all. Here are some additional pictures from the conference: