Video: Rethinking the LMS administration with the Moodle Sharing Cart and Community Hub

I really like the direction that Moodle is developing with the new Sharing Cart block and emergent Moodle Community Hub functionality.

Consider a teacher reviewing a variety of existing Moodle courses from their colleagues and browsing the content to find the good stuff.

Copy to Sharing Cart

Copy to Sharing Cart

The Sharing Cart block enables them to copy the most useful Resources and Activities to their Sharing Cart block and drop into  their own Moodle course with a couple of clicks, so easy to use.

Copy to Course

Copy to Course

The only thing missing is the Sharing Cart doesn’t enable the copying of a complete topic in one hit; this would be really useful in significantly freeing up Moodle administrators in supporting teachers in backing up and restoring course content (Hopefully this will become available in the future development of this great new feature).

Setting up Moodle Hub Connection

Setting up Moodle Hub Connection

And there’s more…with the Sharing Cart, Moodle can be connected with a Moodle Community Hub. A Moodle Community Hub is a more sophisticated repository system which enables multiple Moodle installs to network and share content, the Hub has some nice bells and whistles like user rating, most popular downloads, points systems for user who upload Moodle artefacts and more… a Community Hub example has been set up at

Moodle Community Hub Interface

Moodle Community Hub Interface

With the Sharing Cart Block and Community Hub I really like that individual resources and activities are freed up to be used between teachers no longer locked up and inflexible within a Moodle course and reliant on backup and restore. After reviewing the new features I’ve had a complete rethink on Moodle Administration with the view to creating a new administration system with Master courses for qualification stored in a Community Hub these can continually maintained and updated by a community of teachers with the best bits and pieces from their own courses using the Sharing Cart Block hmmm that would mean less grunt work for the Administrator…these new Moodle features are great!

Posted by: networklearning | August 17, 2009

The benefits of a closed Mediawiki for Collaboration

Authenticated Login to view Mediawiki

Authenticated Login to view Mediawiki

Mediawiki is designed for open viewing of content but it is possible to turn on a username and password requirement before users can view content. Check out Illawarra Institute resource mediawiki with DET authentication at , it works quite nicely.

All Resource Mediawiki content is now behind a DET username and password. Moodle will also be integrated with the DET Single Sign On (SSO), i.e. students and staff will log into one system to access both Moodle and Mediawiki.  To top the VLE off I’d also like to see a file repository that seamlessly integrates through SSO with Moodle and Mediawiki now that would be nice!

Mediawiki has worked well for teachers and staff in developing their resources (after a bit of training in the basics). Click here for an example course (Diploma of Children’s Services) developed with Jennifer Hopkins and based on this model.

The open Mediawiki has had good traffic for marketing courses from outside TAFE (6000 + views of front page) and some positive feedback on the content model but I don’t think the cross Institute collaboration aims have been realised as envisioned.

In a way the openness of the Mediawiki resources has been a big barrier to uptake and collaboration between Institutes. Culturally the people who have put in the hard yards and contributed to the Illawarra Institute Mediawiki Resources want their great work visible to TAFE students and teachers just not on the open internet and that’s understandable, from experience this is the common viewpoint especially with management who are concerned about commercial interests.

Initially the idea for making the resources available on the open internet was based on removing barriers which seemed quite radical a few years back. Power-law distribution and openess asserts that 80 percent of productivity and collaboration within an organisation will be done by 20 percent of employees, the open Illawarra Institute Mediawiki was meant to make existing resources highly visible in one location and remove access barriers for the 20 percent of productive teachers from other Institutes to collaborate. (At least that was the plan :-)).

I’ve been asked several times why is a Resource Mediawiki needed when Wikispaces is available, so much more user friendly and feature rich? Mediawiki’s strength is that it’s designed for openness and mass collaboration between many users. Wikispaces is working well but is generally used for smaller classes and groups, many Wikispaces are private with locked up content so there are issues with visibility and limited opportunities for members only collaboration.

Working in an open internet environment is my personal preference and I’ll continue to do so for the benefits of networking but my conclusion is a closed TAFE NSW Mediawiki bridging solution is needed that affords opportunity for mass collaboration between those “20 percent” Teachers who do not want to be publishing to the open internet. A resource Mediawiki in one location is well worth investing in; resources can be used across multiple delivery platforms for example linking to Sakai as well as Moodle resolving the issues of catering for multiple delivery platforms.

Success will come down to strategic support and coordination from Management for projects where the commercial interests between Institutes are best served through collaboration, for example sponsoring the existing Flexible Learning Toolboxes and new LRR ‘How to’ use technology learning objects to be linked and categorised in the Mediawiki.

Also as discussed at the last Moodle User Group meeting there has also been some trial work in consultation with TELS on setting up a Moodle Community Hub for collaborating and sharing courseware in anticipation of new Moodle 2.0 functionality. I recommend Checking out David Gilchrist and Diane Van Berlo’s New England ‘Moodle for Beginners resources’.

The Illawarra Institute is just starting some “trial balloon” case study projects with CLI and New England Institute on cross Institute collaboration work. The plan is to create some exemplars in utilising the resource Mediawiki and Community Moodle Hub:

  • Alexander Miller of North Coast Institute has contributed the QuickE Moodle resources to add to the ‘Moodle for Teachers’ Mediwiki Category
  • Rory OBrien is contributing the CLI Social Learning and some of TAA Diploma eLearning Units and LRR ‘How To’ technology guides to the Moodle Hub and Mediawiki.
  • David Gilchrist and Diane Van Berlo have contributed a new LAW Learning Activity Wizard course.
  • I’m looking at the integration of Flexible Learning Toolboxes into Moodle and Mediawiki other resources may be included over the coming weeks.
Posted by: networklearning | October 9, 2008

My Learning Style/ Learning techniques and technologies

I’m doing a bit of reflection on my preferences learning styles as part of an eLearning facilitation Course, part of which is answering the VARK learning style questionaire.

The VARK learning style questionaire was interesting, and I found myself choosing all choices for a learning situtation, my results where:

  • Visual: 11
  • Aural: 7
  • Read/Write: 12
  • Kinesthetic: 10

I’m a multimodal learner, so a mixed up buch of learning strategies works best for me.

I had a look at the visual , aural , read-write and kinesthetic help sheets, a good primer for multimodal learning ideas with technologies.

Some ideas for utilising technology that spring to mind:

For Visual Learners:

Create clear diagrams of concepts, process steps and theories using the web 2.0 program

For student self assessment create sequencing or drag and drop activites with words and pictures to rearrange or link to key words in response to a question.

Some activity generating tools that enable creation of these activities are:

For Aural Learners

I would record lessons with my MP3 recorder such as an iRiver or an iPod.

 would then publish the mp3 files by uploading to a pod-casting service such as or publish to the blog that I’ve created with http:/ .

I could then instruct the students to visit the site and download to their iPod to listen at their leisure on the train or when walking to work…

For read write learners

I would develop my resource notes in a wiki first by work out the structure and sequencing of the content in a logical fashion on paper, then adding to the wiki with an overview on each subject page. This would then be fleshed out with underpinning theory mixing the text with various types of media, i.e video, audio files and diagrams. The resource would also include written prompts, definitions and reminders to encourage the student to consider ideas and concepts as they progress through the material.

Good examples of wiki’s used for education resources:

For Kinesthetic Learners

A useful technology for Kinesthetic Learners are Point of View cameras. POV cameras are wearable technology that record hands free video from your point of view. They can be attached onto headgear or even glasses. Here are two examples:

The possibilities are limitless but for Kinesthetic learners I would individually work through the hands on steps of a process prior to a class, import the video into Windows Movie Maker an easy to use video editor that comes wth Windows XP or can be download for free at .

I would edit the video and add captions. Publish to my blog and point my students to watch. On the training day the students (motivated) would be primed with the steps in the process to reinforce their F2F hands on learning. I would even introduce the POV technology to them, to record their work and review afterwards for feed back and comment.

Posted by: networklearning | September 23, 2008

Mindbank – Empowerment through each other

Posted by: networklearning | July 29, 2008

Intro to Camstudio and screencasts for on-screen recording

Assessment tool:
Cam studio is also a good assessment tool, direct the student to download the program for free from and send them this video to configure. They can then record a presentation of their, media i.e published videos , photos of their work activities and submit as part of their eportfolio for assessment. 

Check it out. Moodle is easy, I have had many teachers exclaim ‘This is just what I want’ when I present the tools and this assessment technique.
Posted by: networklearning | October 2, 2007

Power-law distribution and openess – Be brave take the jump.

Have you heard of the ‘Power-law distribution’ law, it asserts that 80 percent of productivity within an organisation or company will be done by 20 percent of employees, or in other edu-blogging terms 80 percent of edu-blogging within an educational organisation will be done by 20 percent of edu-bloggers and that’s being incredibly optimistic (80% itself could be quite low output!) Hold that thought.

‘You’ve got to be crazy if you want to start a wiki operation from scratch you have got to have a sustainable community’
Wayne Macintosh Wikieducator

As before with the LMS software, many educational organisations look to invest time and money into in-house systemisation of technology with the vision of staff collaborating and sharing information and creating learning resources with colleagues within the organisation, for example through an in-house installation of a technology such as media-wiki or wordpress blog on their own server.

Fair enough, but is this sustainable? Probably not based on ‘Power-law distribution’.

Why bother with in house software installs? Some valid reasons to…

  • Enable closed environments for privacy
  • Provide storage space
  • Enable protection of IP
  • Protection of staff from the open internet
  • Market courses and service
  • Aggregate staff as part of a learning group
  • Have control off the content and who views it…

As Wayne Mactintosh of Wiki educator alludes in his above statement the reality is it’s hard work, costly and difficult to achieve sustainable community interactions which continually motivate contributions from members.

No matter what technological solution the organisation invests it’s time and money into as per the ‘Power-law distribution’ law they will still be reliant on a limited pool of enthusiastic innovators to develop skills and expertise and share with the rest of the organisation.

Whereby 20% of staff (If your’re lucky) will do the edu-blogging work in addition they will probably want to forgoe the carefully executed in house system and do their own thing using whatever technology they choose to keep up with the ever changing e-learning market. This is a good thing for organisation innovation.

So where is the sustainable profitiable and quality educational solution to the 80:20 problem for the progressive education organisation looking to implement edu-blogging and networked learning systems for their staff?

Support for any of the open learning mediawiki systems such as that have an active community base, contributors and flow of vistors look set to provide a sustainable and business solution for organisation’s that recognise the benefits of taking the road less travelled and systematically going open.

For example, it’s early days but the business oppportunities are out there for the early adopters of which has:

  • 4000 visitors per week and rising (Sep 07)- great organisational branding and marketing opportunities
  • An active communtiy of techies fruther developing the wiki educator platform for free
  • Free hosting of content
  • Anything you add to wiki educator you actually own the copyright, wiki educator doesn’t own the copyright you still retain the copyright and your intellectual property rights
  • Uses Creative Commons Share Alike licence. Which is a good thing because you get to leverage outside contributors innovations within your organisation saving time and money…

In terms of cost effectivess and achieving business objectives systemisating the use of open teaching and learning technologies such as wikipedia and wikieducator for accessing, marketing and developing your organisation’s educational resources under creative commons is a sound business and educational decision.


‘Its all about numbers’
Leigh Blackall – ‘Otago Polytechic

I recommend listening to this recording of Wayne Macintosh’s visit to Otago Polytechnic to discuss all things wiki educator for educational organisations.

Wikieducator and Otago Polytechnic

Currently the Illawarra Institute and Otago Polytechic is looking to implement a trial project with the Tourism and Hospitality Faculty to implement a business and education model using wiki educator (More to follow).

So why bother with time an money on house systems? Obviousily closed in house systems make sense in terms of protecting senstive information, managing aspects of child protection, managing assessment results, creating group learning environments…

From a business point of view will organisations with in house investment in edu-blogging technology enable co-creation co-sharing and co-collaboration on educational resource work in a cost effective profitable AND sustainable manner over a number of years? Maybe if the community members personal relationships are good… but probably not.

If the the vision is for sustainable collaboration and sharing of information within an organisation the future is open and networked using tools such as wiki educator and wikipedia and creative commons licencing networking with the other 20% of innovative edu bloggers from other organisations. Be brave and take the jump to openess.

Posted by: networklearning | September 27, 2007

Create digital stories using Photostory 3

Rino’s Pastry Video
Photostory is also a good assessment tool, direct the student to download the program for free from and send them this ‘How to’ video . They can then record a presentation of their, media i.e  photos of their work activities and submit as part of their eportfolio for assessment. 
Posted by: networklearning | September 21, 2007

Fotoflexer – Easily edit your photos for free and online

Posted by: networklearning | August 31, 2007

People Learning Management: Learnscope 07 postcard

A ‘People Learning Management System’ utilises a variety of Web 2.0 communication tools and real life meet-ups to aggregate people to come together around a particular subject, task, problem. A PLMS emphasizes the idea of the person as a learning object rather than the traditional LMS model where of the value in passive consumption of learning object resources.

  • This active ad hoc hands on communicative approach to professional development and learning in general requires top down management and teaching that enables rather than controls the activities of staff and students.
  • A structured framework of scheduled AND informal activities mapped against the curriulum and individuals learing plans. This to form a student’s and teacher’s e-portfolio of their learning within the organization.
  • A People learning system is flexible and has both chaotic and organized communication using a flexible variety of ad-hoc tools agreeable to the community of individuals and their learning plans. The common denominator for ALL activity is the curriculum around which activity sheets can be developed for other community member to follow.

The screencast video is a prototype example of how we âre using an ad-hoc variety of Web 2.0 tools and processes to achieve this purpose based on some of the ideas from the Learnscope 2006 teacherConnect project see below.

Other underpinning links:


  • Focus on authoring activity sheets within organisations.
  • This is where the valuable IP and services are to be offered. Focus on linking to and authoring resources using free online tools on the open internet.
  • This is where the valuable cost savings, quality, concurrency and professional connections with others and business will be made.

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