I recently had the chance to interview Stephen Bourget by email. Stephen is the project proposer behind the Calendar Interface project which was the project put forth to Moodle HQ this last project cycle ending December 2016. This was the MUA's 3rd project (1. the Recycle Bin already available, 2. the Dashboard enhancements due in 3.3). The MUA Committee is excited to have Stephen as a member of the Association and to have moved his project forward to be developed.
Check out our interview below:
How long have you been using Moodle and how were you introduced to the Learning Management System?
I started piloting Moodle in my classroom in 2004 with version 1.3. At the time, I was looking for a web-based product that would allow for my students to turn in files electronically and take quizzes online. My school district adopted Moodle a couple of years later and I have been using it as an integral part of my classes ever since.
Have you been involved in the community at Moodle.org prior to your MUA membership? If so, how?
I joined the Moodle community shortly after my pilot of the Moodle LMS somewhere around 2006. Originally my involvement was just the occasional reporting of bugs we encountered using the Moodle software. As time went on got more involved in the Moodle community. I now regularly participate in the annual QA testing cycle that occurs prior to each Moodle release. I also try to help improve the Moodle software by contributing both bug fixes and the occasional new feature to Moodle.
Some of the areas that I’ve worked in over the last few years include the lesson module, the activity results block, along with some improvements to reporting, the calendar, and logging/events. I’ve also developed a few plugins which are available the Moodle plugin database. These include a podcasting module (https://moodle.org/plugins/pluginversions.php?plugin=mod_pcast) and a links block (https://moodle.org/plugins/pluginversions.php?plugin=block_links)
What drew you to the Moodle Users Association?
I saw the association as another way that I could contribute to the Moodle community. I also saw it as a way that I could provide some input on some of the new features that are being developed for upcoming Moodle releases.
Where did the inspiration come from for the Calendar Improvements project?
Over the last two years, the school district where I teach has been encouraging the use of Moodle with all academic classes across all grades K-12. Last September it became a requirement that all of our teachers needed to post homework in Moodle along with all of our due dates in the calendar. Unfortunately, the Moodle calendar interface is a bit “clunky” and has not been updated to support many of the modern features like “drag and drop” that are found in many of the other places throughout Moodle.
What one thing about the calendar do you think must be changed?
I think updating the usability of the user interface is one of the more important aspects of this project. Like many places in Moodle it takes multiple mouse clicks to either create or edit a calendar event. Tools like Google calendar have gotten it right where the user simply needs to click on where they want to create the event and the rest is simple. Even if the user put the event on the wrong date they can simply drag it to where it should be and everything is updated accordingly.
What other initiatives would you like to see the MUA take on (what additional projects are you interested in)?
There are a lot of areas in Moodle that can be improved. One of the biggest complaints I hear about Moodle at school from teachers is that it is "consistently inconsistent".
Moodle has many features that are sporadically implemented. For example most activity modules support groups, however, if you want to use the glossary module then it doesn't. Some modules like assignment, quiz, choice, feedback, database, etc. allow the teacher to set a due date, but only a few of these allow the teacher to have different due dates for different students or groups of students. Some activities allow the students to view recent changes or updates in a course while other activities do not. This list of inconsistencies is rather extensive.
I hope that over time both Moodle HQ and the MUA can work to make Moodle more consistent. A few of these areas I hope that the MUA will tackle soon include supporting the question bank in the lesson module, expanding drag & drop support to all interfaces, and making Moodle more feature complete so all "core" activities support the same basic features.
Stephen, thank you so much for taking the time to submit a great project and to answer our questions in this first ever project proposer interview series!