First Martin started off introducing the background to the changes to the course layout.
The first change here was the new section-per-page feature which breaks up the course into multiple pages where you can choose to select one section per page, or all sections on one page. This works with all major formats. With Turn editing on, you can either stay with the section by section view, or look at the whole course to make the editing clearer. Martin mentioned that 2.4 will have some big changes to Formats, so stay tuned.
Another change is the AJAX for managing the course has been cleaned up. There is block dragging working now, which has proper auto-previewing of the block in new location. Very slick.
Something else Martin has wanted for a long time which is new “add activity or resource” – the activity chooser. It lists all the resources and activities and shows the help on the right side and provides a link to the Moodle docs. This helps people new to Moodle who before only saw a list of activities without the explanation of what they were. You can either double-click on the resource name to add it, or click on it and then choose add – this helps usability. You can turn this off and go back to the old method if you want.
Martin then demoed the drag and drop of files directly to the course page. This feature was originally developed by Davo Smith as a block and makes it much easier to add files in quickly. One nice feature was to auto-unzip a zipped file if you want to.
The next feature demoed was the new quick-edit where you click a nice icon to help change the name of the file on the page without loading into settings.
One neat feature was the ability to add/remove sections using a plus and minus icon at the bottom of the course page. The delete only works if the topic is empty.
The changes in 2.3 came out of the survey that Moodle HQ ran in December.
There are big changes to the File picker.
He explained how the new file manager works, which also has the new drag and drop. It is a nice visual friendly manager which has auto-generated thumbnails for images. Long term there will be thumbnails for all file types.
He explained that they have done some nice work on the look and feel of the new File Picker. The default icon driven view, a table view and a tree view so it is much easier to navigate back through courses in server files. There is also a nice sort by last modified, size and type which is very handy!
The file preview information should help a lot with some dimensions and access to edit the meta data.
He then introduced a big change to be able to re-use a file in multiple places and that when you update original file it would auto-update in all used places. This new feature is alias/shortcut so when you are adding an existing file you can then choose to copy it or to make an alias/shortcut to it.
In the file picker, the image then has the little arrow image which indicates it is a link which helps know it will be updated centrally. The file information also shows to where it has been linked from too. The original file also has now a link item on it which indicates other file entries depend on it. If you try to delete the source file you are warned it has linked entries and if you confirm the delete they are converted to clones of the file to ensure consistency. This is a great protection from unintentionally impacted multiple areas. The 3rd aspect of this was enabling the user to update this file by overwriting it which then enabled it be updated everywhere.
“This feature now enables repositories to now work as they should have” Martin explained as he introduced the benefits of this feature to enable a repository to use this same link option. The EQUELLA integration demoed looked great, where the repository integration used the file picker – really impressive.
Martin then moved onto the Netspot reworked Assignment module. The first task they did was to clean up the code from 4 types into one activity which can be configured to be any of the types that people wanted from the old four types. The old assignment types will “go away” or become a 3rd party module in Moodle 2.4 probably but not until then. He demoed a new advanced grading method called “marking guide”, which is similar to rubrics which is a list rather than a scale for different criteria. So you can comment per entry and add a grade which get totally for the activity. This is really some great work and will be a huge help going forward.
Martin admitted to not using the Book module a lot himself, but explained it was the most popular 3rd party module. It is now part of core so no more having to install it separately. Woot!
The Quiz module has had some improvements. The first one was a highly voted option which enable better handling of unsubmitted quizzes when the time expires including grace periods. Martin then discussed the second feature of forcing students to take the quiz questions in order.
There is also a new SCORM graph report who shows a graph of those who have finished. If you use SCORM this is a cool change!
The next feature up was the workshop module. They have tackled the top-voted issues from the tracker including:
- automatic phase switching
- submission deadlines show in calendar
- improved pagination support and filtering
Martin then introduced notifications for plugin updates. He showed the new plugins database which is now filling up quite nicely. Any Moodle site from 2.3 will connect to this database and main download site, which will check for updates for the Moodle installation and installed 3rd party plugins thus notifying the admin. The admin can automatically check and send a message to the site admin. This is a great feature to help people keep up to date with new bug fixed plugins.
To finish off the presentation, Martin tackled the hit list for Moodle 2.4:
- Performance (including adding a new cool caching system)
- More course formats work to make them more flexible and pluggable
- New course/category management interface to make this easier
- A new icon set and graphic design
- Increased usability
- A repository plugin for direct audio/video recording into Moodle
- A look at reviewing Forum with the Forum NG (from the OU)
- A look at reviewing the Wiki with the OU Wiki
- Importing of iCal streams into Moodle to make calendar synching much easier.
There was a great response from the attendees on the new changes. The demoed changes reinforce the move towards increased ease-of-use and enhanced usability in general. Roll on 2.3 and 2.4!