Project Q&A With: Moodle as Issuer, Mahara as Displayer

Project Q&A With: Moodle as Issuer, Mahara as Displayer

Moodle is an open source online training and course management system. Mahara provides open source e-portfolios and proposed to focus on an open source infrastructure for broad-based usage. This partnership allowed Moodle to extend their current work, enabling badges and permitted Mahara to add badges to their Gradebook resulting in a deeply representative electronic portfolio. To achieve this, we will develop the long awaited repository API to demonstrate badge display in Moodle from an external repository source.

As we originally proposed, our primary goal was to build a badging solution that would be accepted in the standard Moodle product. Moodle is the most popular LMS in the world, with more users than any other learning platform, tens of millions more. Moodle has a user base of more than 80,000 registered and verified sites, serving over 68 million users in over 7 million courses with 1.2 million+ teachers.

From a relatively small amount of investment, the Moodle Open Badges features have the potential to change the landscape. We are now focusing on the Mahara part of the project.

Who were you addressing with your badge system design?

Our intended audiences are enormous in size, not only schools, but colleges and universities the world over. Moodle and Totara also support community organizations, not-for profits, professional bodies, government departments and businesses large and small. The badge system we have designed and built is generalized, to be used in all sorts of contexts and pedagogies, across tens of thousands of different systems and organizations around the world.

What were your initial goals for the badges? Did those goals change at all throughout the design process?

During the design phase our goals did alter. Originally the scope was to build issuing functionality into Moodle with display functionality in Mahara. The scope has increased whereby we have also built in display functionality into Moodle. For Mahara we also want to build issuing functionality and ideally we'd like to build functionality to support Mahara becoming a Backpack provider.

What is left to do? What is left unanswered? What might help you continue to succeed?

Developing new functionality for Mahara is still left to do. We're keen to develop Mahara into a Backpack provider in due course. In addition, we will have issuing functionality and we're also interested in how the OBI and the Tin Can API may come together as an integrated open standard.

What is your badge system testing strategy? How have you or will you be testing your badge system prior to deployment?

We have a robust system testing strategy for all software we build including regression testing and 3 sets of code reviews.

What top 3 factors is the success of your badge system contingent upon?

  • Success is contingent on whether there remains commitment, and presumably funding, for the core project to continue and be sufficiently resourced to deliver on the roadmap in a timely way.
  • Success will also rely on leadership, both with the technology and communicating goals and objectives.
  • Our longer-term success with open badges will also be contingent on our commitment as the technology maintainers for Moodle and Mahara. That is ultimately a commercial decision as a project of this nature takes resources. At this stage, we see enormous potential and would also like to explore how the OBI could be integrated with ADL's Tin Can API.       

How successfully are you getting institutional buy-in, or adoption from your learners?

We have built into the Moodle registration process a way of measuring how many badges are issued from Moodle sites, of which there are over 80,000 serving approximately 70 million users.

Please describe any impact your badge system may have already had on your organization and your learners.

The Moodle as Issuer, Mahara as Displayer project is designed to have a massive impact. The outcomes extend far beyond our organization. Our role is to deliver the functionality that will be a catalyst for adoption. Our mission is to deliver open source infrastructure. By developing OBI functionality in the core Moodle project we will be able to scale the use of open badges more than all the other projects combined since Moodle is the most popular global learning platform.

For those who want to follow the development, implementation, and adoption of your badge system, what social media sites will you be posting updates to?

We regularly post on Twitter, and within the Moodle and Mahara communities.

What top 3 factors is the success of your badge system contingent upon?

  1. Focus on widespread adoption to build critical mass and hence sustainability. This is why we proposed to design our system for Moodle. All functionality is generalized.
  2. Use an open development methodology. We developed everything in the public domain. This has enabled any volunteers to regularly test and provide feedback on our system.
  3. Use senior developers to get it right.

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