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Moodle + Office 365: better together with new MS Open Tech open source plugins for education workflows
Posted by Thang Le Toan on 19 May 2016 12:35 AM
Today MS Open Tech is releasing to the public a set of open source Moodle plugins that enable tight integration between Moodle, the popular open source learning management system (LMS), and Office 365’s popular productivity software and services, to create a more productive experience for teachers and students. The plugins will be demonstrated this week during the BETT Show, the world’s largest education technology conference.
As we mentioned when we announced our collaboration with Remote-Learner (a leading Moodle provider), this project is a great example of openness in action, taking advantage of Office 365’s open and well-documented REST APIs and Moodle’s open and well-documented plugin architecture.
These plugins make it easy to take advantage of Office’s suite of rich productivity tools while creating assignments and doing homework for courses managed in Moodle.
New Features Benefit Educational Institutions and Businesses
The features being added today are many, and it’s just the start of our collaboration. We will work with the community to add new features and languages over time.
As an example of how education workflows are improved by this integration between Moodle and Office, consider a typical scenario where an instructor creates an assignment, then students complete the assignment and hand it in, and then the instructor grades the assignments and provides feedback. This workflow may need to take place across online and offline scenarios, and across many different devices and platforms. The integration between Moodle and OneNote simplifies these scenarios:
Teacher --> Student
Moodle creates assignment in Moodle, embed content from Office if desired --> OneNote (Assignment apprears in OneNote, student can work on it offline, on the web, or on mobile devices.
OneNote: Views student's submission in OneNote, provide feedback. --> OneNote: review feedback in OneNote.
Another good example is calendar integration. When an instructor schedules an event in Moodle (for example, a lecture or office hours), this event is automatically copied to students’ personal calendars, where they’ll see it on their mobile devices.
For more on the benefits for instructors and students, see today’s blog post from Anthony Salcito, Microsoft’s Vice President of Worldwide Education, on Office 365 and Moodle: An Open Approach to Transforming Classrooms.
Office Mix integration is another exciting capability enabled by this project. As Anoop Gupta, Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft, said “We are delighted to partner with Remote-Learner and integrate with the Moodle learning management system. As a free add-in to PowerPoint, Office Mix will provide a simple and familiar tool for teachers to create interactive online lessons, enabling all teachers to incorporate flipped-classroom and blended-learning models in their teaching practices to enhance student learning.”
Here’s a Mix in which Anoop Gupta demonstrates how easy it is to embed a Mix in Moodle course content:
All of this functionality and more will be available from the Moodle plugin repository as two sets of integrated Moodle plugins:
We have published all of this work to the Moodle plugin repository, and it will appear there in the next few hours.
Open Source and Open Standards Bring Technologies Together
Moodle has a vibrant open source ecosystem, and we have partnered with Remote-Learner, a recognized leader in the Moodle community, to develop these plugins in “the Moodle way.” This meant early participation and feedback from the community through a beta program run by Remote-Learner, and ongoing transparency during the development process through a series of blog posts by Remote-Learner CIO/President Mike Churchward on the Remote-Learner blog.
Here at MS Open Tech, we have always seen open standards as a key driver of innovation over time, and standard-based interoperability is a notable component of this project as well. Many standards were used to deliver these plugins, including OAuth, OpenID Connect, REST and oEmbed. By enabling interoperability via open standards, we have made it possible for the Moodle community to build other integrations in the future, using open source tools that we have contributed to during the development of Office 365 integration for Moodle:
Here are some options for trying out the plugins and learning more …
During the BETT Show this week (the world’s largest education technology conference), attendees can learn more about the integration of Moodle with Office 365 from Anthony Salcito, VP of Worldwide Education at Microsoft, who will present a keynote at 2 p.m. GMT on January 21, titled, The Role of Technology in Transforming Education. Following the keynote, BETT Show attendees are also invited to attend the Learn Live session, Moodle and Microsoft: Better Together, presented by Jason Cole, CEO of Remote-Learner, and Doug Mahugh, senior technical evangelist at MS Open Tech.
The Office 365 and Microsoft Services plugins will be available for download/installation from the Moodle plugins directory, and also via an Azure certified virtual machine image (supported by Remote-Learner) as well as a VM Depot (community supported) virtual machine image. Full source code is available on the MS Open Tech GitHub repo.
Today we’re publishing installation instructions and related content on the Moodle Docs wiki, and after this week’s BETT sessions we’ll be publishing more videos and documentation as well.
Here are a few links to related resources for education:
If you’re a student, you may be eligible for Office 365 Education for Students, which is available free to students of qualifying schools. Click here to learn more and find out whether you’re eligible.
Throughout the development of this open project, we’ve learned a lot about how technology is transforming the classroom, so it’s gratifying to see how open technologies are creating new opportunities for partnerships like ours with Remote-Learner today.
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