Note: This is part of a series of blog entries sharing my take-aways from Moodle 2.0 First Look by Mary “moodlefairy” Cooch, published by Packt Publishing.

In Chapter 2, Mary explores “dockable blocks” and how neat they are. I’m impressed with the screenshots that abound through this chapter, making it very easy to following the text…after all, what does a dockable block actually look like? We wouldn’t know unless we saw the picture.

Some other neat stuff:

  • Apparently, dockable blocks can also be “sticky blocks,” which as many folks know, make an item easily accessible no matter where you are. In Moodle, this is a big help since it enables users to find their way back to the “important” stuff that’s been setup as a dockable block.
  • Another interesting modification is the use of named topics that appear as links in the navigation bar.
  • The presence of new blocks–in addition to the standard online users, RSS feed, random glossary entry–that include Comments (allows students to leave feedback for teachers), Private Files, Community and Completion blocks.
  • Sticky blocks can be placed anywhere in Moodle and ANY block can be made sticky.

When working with Moodle, one of the first comments some folks make is, “Moodle can be used as an easy document sharing tool, right?” In reading Chapter 3 of Moodle 2.0 First Look on “Editing Text and Managing Files,” it was pretty fun to read about the following developments:

  1. TinyMCE is now the editor (the same one WordPress has) you’ll see when working with any sort of text. The benefit of that is the increased compatibility with Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera–which I use all the time from different machines. This means I can finally dump Internet Explorer and Firefox IF I WANT TO (it’s all about choice, isn’t it?). Now I can do the editing work in those alternate browsers
  2. It appears to be easy to use the File Picker (which is new) to upload a file, video, or sound file, including finding YouTube video that may be on the web. While that may not be immediately valuable in a school setting, there is a lot of potential for other places that do allow YouTube video.
  3. Some neat features about uploading files include the fact that you can now include an author and choose a license (e.g. Creative Commons). Very nice!
  4. Particularly intriguing is this part about the file system:

    Previously, an uploaded file could only be used in that one course. If we wanted it elsewhere in our Moodle, we had to upload it to another course. This often resulted in multiple instances of files—a nuisance and a drain on the server. Now, when we upload a file into one course, it is given a reference code and if we want to use it elsewhere, we just call up that code and Moodle will locate and display that file for us. All information about files and where they are used is stored in the database and the files themselves are stored on the file system. Moodle will do a check on each file to ensure identical files aren’t stored twice.

  5. How to re-use a file from one course in another
  6. If you want to use FTP–or drop stuff directly on the server in the a folder–Moodle can add that folder as a “File System” repository that can be access by the File Picker.
  7. Images can also be imported from Flickr…
  8. There is also a personal storage space (“My private files”) where users can store content.
  9. This is a fascinating addition using the Portfolio API:

    Moodle 2.0 enables you to have content captured and “pushed” to external repositories – in other words, you can send work from Moodle to another site such as the Open Source e-portfolio site Mahara or to Google Docs. This is very useful for students as they can build up their own e-portfolio of work that has been first handed in to their teacher and graded on Moodle.

  10. The Portfolio API makes it easy to export content out of Moodle and put it in GoogleDocs or Mahara…wow. Content is no longer locked in! Will they expand the API to include other sites?

Wow, Moodle 2.0 is awesome and I’m only on Chapter 3 of Moodle 2.0 First Look.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure