Using Moodle for my MBA class on Innovation and Technology Management here in the Azores has me thinking about the upcoming Moodle 2.0 release, scheduled for this summer. (Portugal is #6 on the global list of Moodle sites – they love it here.)
While many users will be focusing on the cleaner interface and much-needed new features (like a decent wiki, and a blog you can comment on), the big idea in Moodle 2.0 is connecting to the outside world. Moodle will finally have APIs that allow other sites and programs to interact with your online courses, opening up all kinds of new application possibilities.
But I think the most intriguing idea is the ‘Community Hub‘. Moodle 2.0 will make it possible to create directories of online courses that are available across Moodle sites. It will also allow the downloading of course templates, or even entire courses, from other Moodle sites that wish to share. Moodle ‘hubs’ will be the directories where Moodle sites send their information if they are looking for outside students to enroll, or want to share their course materials with others.
But here’s the key: anyone can be a Moodle ‘hub’. A university department, or a professional organization, could become a Community Hub for sharing course materials. This takes the open courseware idea to the next level: instead of seeing the syllabus and lecture notes, you download the actual course, activities and all, tailor it to your needs, and execute.
Will there be an advantage to becoming the Community Hub for a subject? Beyond the obvious reputational benefits, we can guess that schools closest to the center of these information-sharing networks will take the lead in using this information effectively. If the commoditization of standard course offerings continues–where traditional lecture/textbook/test courses all look the same, online or offline–universities will need to use the standard course as a foundation, but then create unique learning experiences that offer something more. Providing only a commodity educational process–or a process that isn’t even as good as the commodity–is not a fun place for our university business model to be.
According to Moodle’s planning docs, the Community Hub server is only 60% done, so who knows whether it will be released this summer. That might give you more time to create your plan for educational global domination.