This is part of a blog series of short profiles on plugin developers within the Moodle community. Today it is Richard Oelmann.
Tell us something about yourself
My background is as a Primary School teacher for the last 18 years, until leaving the job this year. During that time I was IT coordinator in a range of schools, Advisory Teacher for ICT in Cardiff and Deputy Head of a school in Monmouthshire.
Since leaving Primary teaching, I am now working for University of Wales, Newport as a ‘Web Based Learning Environment’ developer – Essentially I am managing the upgrade of the University’s learning environment to Moodle2.
When did you first start programming?
Since originally learning BBC Basic programming about 25 years ago, I had done virtually no programming or coding of any description until I started working on Moodle themes. Since doing so, I have been learning HTML, PHP and CSS primarily – teaching myself with plenty of support and encouragement from the community.
When did you first encounter Moodle?
I first encountered Moodle as an Advisory Teacher in Cardiff, when it was being rolled out as a Virtual Learning Environment for the Primary Schools in the County. At that stage I was simply a user – and providing support to teachers beginning to use Moodle in their schools – I was not involved in the ‘back-end’ of Moodle until I returned to school and began setting it up for myself.
What did you use Moodle for?
I have used Moodle in all these roles, moving from being a user (‘student’ type role) to Teacher before beginning to administer Moodle for my school when I left Advisory Teaching and returned to the classroom.
Currently, I would tend to call myself an administrator with an interest in developing – although I guess others see me as a developer as that is now my job description!
What was your first Moodle plugin? Why did you write it?
My first ‘plugin’ was a theme to create the appropriate look and feel for my school. This wasn’t released to the community, although when Moodle2 was first released I began creating some themes for the community where many of us were learning about the changes to themes in Moodle2. I believe the first theme I released to the community was a light-weight theme called LampLite..
What is your latest Moodle plugin & why did you write it?
My latest plugin released to the community was a pair of themes called MultiLayout and MultiStyled, with the intention of providing administrators who have limited server access with a means to choose a variety of layout options. As with many of my themes it developed from comments on the forums about a variety of needs, although not necessarily a specific feature request.
I have also recently written a few small modifications of some of the standard blocks within Moodle to target specific needs within the University.
What would you say to someone who is considering writing a Moodle plugin?
My advice would be – give it a go!
Look at what you want to achieve and look at some of the existing plugins – not necessarily ones that do something similar – you might get ideas for different parts of your plugin from different places.
Make use of the community – there are plenty of people out there who will be more than happy to help you.
As you can tell from my previous answers I am a big advocate of the Moodle Forum Community. You can learn so much from other members of the community, but I would definitely recommend active involvement in the forums – replying as well as asking 🙂
This is a list of the plugins that Richard has contributed to that are currently (Jan 2012) in the Moodle plugins database. To view all these in the Moodle.org Plugin database check this page
||A theme for admins who do not have regular access to server files. It has a very comprehensive settings page to allow changes to the theme.|
||A Moodle2 theme which integrates awesomebar and custom menu into a single menu bar.|
|Lagomorph||A css3 based theme intended to be suitable for tablet/mobile use. This theme also incorporates new block positions in the centre section.|
||MultiLayout is a theme with minimal styling which enables various 1, 2 or 3 column page layouts to be used from within the single layout file with little recoding.|
||Multistyled is a child theme for Multilayout. It provides the colour scheme and settings page for Multilayout, allowing the page layout and colours to be controlled from the theme’s settings page.|