The past month has been an important one in the MUA and in Moodle, with a lot going on. Here is my look back at the highlights.
On 20th May, Moodle 3.7 was released on schedule and full of great features. Not least, the first instalment of the combined MUA / Moodle HQ Advanced forums project, to be continued through Moodle 3.8 later this year. The Forum activity, a veritable senior citizen in the Moodle family, has been overhauled to create a more dynamic, user-friendly tool. This initiative sees many requested features: in-page replies, private replies, starring and sorting of discussions, locking discussions, and more. Congratulations to the team for this work, in particular the MUA project proposers and HQ’s Ryan Wyllie and Andrew Nicols, the lead developers. To get an overview of all that's new in 3.7, see Product Manager for Moodle LMS Sander Bangma's post in the Moodle.org community forums. And congratulations to MUA member Tim Hunt, whose decisive contribution to Moodle was publicly acknowledged in Sander’s post.
May also saw the close of Phase 1 of our Moodle 3.9 small project proposal cycle. These projects are now in final review by HQ, prior to voting by MUA members 12 - 26 June. We hope to be able to do at least a couple of these projects. Watch this space!
MUA rule changes
In May we voted through seven minor rule changes considered necessary to bring the MUA regulatory framework more into line with our current practice and also give the management committee a certain degree of discretion about the organisation of project proposal cycles. Consult the minutes of the Special General Meeting where we voted through these changes.
This work was not very exciting but is important since, in a spirit of good governance and transparency, the MUA has to abide by its own rules. So thanks to all who took part in the process. However, the rule changes are not quite official yet. The changes need to be approved by the consumer protection authorities of the Government of Western Australia. And once this is done our new rules will be published on the MUA website.
Our May Town Halls were graced by the HQ participation of Andrew Nicols, Sander Bangma, Mary Cooch and Helen Foster, who led us through the main new features in Moodle 3.7 prior to release. We felt really privileged! If you did not get the chance to attend, remember that the recordings are available online for members.
The June Town Halls are just around the corner, on 4th (8am UTC) and 11th June (6pm UTC). This time we will be focusing on the development process in Moodle, from a non-developer's point of view. This should be a great chance to learn about some of the mysteries of successful distributed open source development. I hope you will be able to join us.
Nearer the time, I will confirm the speakers.
For some time now, the committee has been trying to identify the best way forward to expand our membership and become a more streamlined and professional organisation, achieving more of our goals faster and providing useful services to members. As you know, the committee itself is staffed by volunteers. We have just one very part-time paid project officer, currently Emma Richardson. This minimalist structure makes it difficult for us to get up to cruise speed.
Our response to this impasse has been to seek to increase synergy by contracting further services from Moodle HQ, in addition to the software development work that we already do together. This approach will have various advantages for the MUA, not least harnessing the expertise of the HQ team and the easy alignment of initiatives undertaken by the same team for HQ and the MUA. Our two priorities in this regard are enhanced MUA marketing and improvements to the MUA web site. I outline these items briefly below.
Over recent months we have approached Kaye Cheung, Head of Marketing and Communications at Moodle, and she is helping us to prepare new graphic, text and multimedia resources for the MUA. Committee member Thomas Korner is leading this project for the MUA. Naturally, our aim is to increase the MUA membership. Watch this space!
MUA web site
We are also in conversations with Moodle HQ to hire web hosting and maintenance services. This should allow us to improve the web site considerably, offering better services to members and showcasing our latest successful MUA projects. Watch this space!
MUA - Moodle HQ dialogue
While all this is going on, the committee is also intensifying the dialogue with Moodle HQ, under the coordination of Gry Stene, Moodle's Chief Product Officer. We seek to have a greater influence on the Moodle road map and input into the deliberations about the direction that Moodle should take. We hope to involve members of the MUA in this process too.
With this in mind, the forum thread started by Peter Diedrichs last week What to focus on? is very timely. The conversation took off. It already has over 50 messages, some of them quite long, all of them thought-provoking and well-informed. Thanks to the members who give their time to share their insights and concerns. This is the very heart of open source community life.
There are several exciting MoodleMoots on the calendar. The MUA will be at Melbourne, Australia (1 - 3 July) and at the first MootGlobal in Barcelona, Spain (18 - 20 November). Be sure to check these opportunities out.
Over the months of July and August we will be calling for volunteers to put come forward for the next Management committee, starting in September. (The committee is decided by a members' vote.) We need to ensure a good balance of continuity and fresh blood. But as ever much will depend on the availability and generosity of our members. If you believe you can contribute, please do not hold back.
All the best for the month of June!