Keeping it simple #MootIE15 4

So….a little over 24 hours ago I delivered my presentation at the UK & Ireland Moodle Moot 2015 – and I have been genuinely overwhelmed with the comments and feedback I’ve had both online and in-person since. It’s fair to say, some of it has come at better times than others (I’m sorry to the poor person who tried to talk to me as I was eating a piece of chocolate brownie…..but I value the comments nevertheless!).

A few months ago Mark Aberdour (@maberdour) said to me “The moot is open for presentation submissions, I think you should tell your story” – so I decided I would. Having been to the Moot last year – I was under no illusion about the quality of the presentations – and technically – there is no way I could compare with that – so I decided to put the “simple” spin on it. Many of the people who present at the Moot are presenting their superb developments (and I’m genuinely in awe of some of the stuff you guys do) – but I’ve built things using simple solutions – and I wanted to show that.

I’m not going to talk about my presentation now, I’ll post the link to it once it’s published by the team for anyone who wants to watch – but to summarise it, I used our staff to show the challenges they had faced, and the simple, core elements of Moodle that we used to overcome those challenges.

Having done the presentation, there were two things people came to talk to me about:

  1. How much they liked the simplicity of the ideas
  2. How much they liked the way the presentation was delivered

The simplicity

We don’t have a team of developers like many of the people presenting – we have me for the technical side (and it’s been a long time since I was a web designer – and I never dealt with PHP anyway!) – so we have to use simple ideas to meet the business need. The one which I think most people were impressed by was the simple use of labels.

We use labels for a number of purposes. The first of these is to allow users to make a choice. This choice may be the level of training they require, or the job role they do, but ultimately, they choose an option, then we use restrictions to make the appropriate learning materials appear (I’ll blog something on how that works later). The second way we use labels is just to capture a declaration (for example the user agreeing to something). By using the label as a student driven course completion requirement, as and when the student ticks the box, Moodle records the date and time for us – which then provides us with the required data – so should we ever be challenged on whether or not the person had declared something – Moodle has our evidence.

The personas

When I decided to deliver this presentation, I knew I couldn’t stand in front of everyone there, and go “look at how cool my stuff is”…..because it isn’t! There’s plenty of awesome coders who churn out great plugins and themes (etc) – I’m not one of them! So I needed to keep it simple – and decided the only way to do this was to use our staff to illustrate the issues they had, then how we solved it.

The photos I used are all actually our staff – they kindly volunteered to form part of our “e-learning community” (which is a bank of photos we’re building up to help whenever we deliver e-learning content in scenario format) – and although many of their names are real, some were made up (as I couldn’t remember their real names!). But the concept was simple – just like the use of our solutions – but it helped to show what I wanted to!


I’m genuinely glad I presented this year – and to all the people who came to watch, or stopped me straight after, a few hours later, or even this morning – thank you all for your feedback. For anyone who’s taken the time to read this, please leave a comment below and let me know what you thought – especially if you have a useful comment which will help me to continue to develop our service.

I’ll close this the same way I did the talk – Moodle is awesome – and just using it’s simplest functions you can achieve (almost) anything if you put your mind to it!

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