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Posted on 2007-07-30

Last week I met with some of our partners at York University, who will be helping the Fluid Project to work more closely with the Moodle community. York University is poised to be among the top five largest deployments of Moodle in the world when they launch in September, and as a result their commitment to both Fluid and Moodle is significant. York has been in pilot with Moodle for the past year, and Rob Finlayson at York's Faculty Support Centre says that they've seen drastically reduced user support requests compared with their previous WebCT system. Impressive.

As part of the Fluid Project, we'd like to help make Moodle even easier to use. We'd also like to foster collaboration amongst designers working across open source projects. The usability and accessibility resources in most open and academic software projects are highly constrained and over-burdened. Fluid provides a shared community for user experience work, and an opportunity to collaborate on cross-cutting and complimentary UI idioms in Moodle, Sakai, uPortal, Kuali Student, and other applications.

Peter Rowley and his team at York have been amazing in terms of offering Fluid access to their Moodle infrastructure and course material for our UX Walk-throughs and user testing. One of the things we also talked about at the meeting was the idea of creating a new Moodle forum specifically for the discussion of user experience and interaction design issues. Is there an interest in this from the community?

What else are we doing within Moodle?

  • We're starting in on a comprehensive set of UX Walk-throughs of Moodle to find areas that can be improved and refined to make it easier to use and more accessible.
  • We'll work with York, the Open University's EU4All project, and the Moodle community to come up with design and accessibility solutions to the issues we identify.
  • We'll connect the Moodle community with Fluid designers to help implement these solutions.
  • Creating a set of UI Design Patterns customized for the Moodle community.
  • Offering U-Camps, workshops for designers and developers to learn about user-centered design practice and work on UX improvements, at upcoming MoodleMoot conferences.
  • Delivering a Designer's Toolkit, with usability and accessibility advice and resources such as common personas and scenarios in teaching and learning.

I'm also interested in fostering links between Fluid's design process and York University's growing interest in pedagogy and instructional design with Moodle. Having the involvement of teachers and instructional designers is critical to creating innovative, effective user interfaces for learning, research, and collaboration. We plan to do the same within the Sakai community. Let me know if you'd like to get involved.

Thanks to Peter, Rob, Rick Pan, and Herb Wideman for meeting with me last and helping to map out a plan for engaging with the Moodle community. You'll hear a lot more from them in the coming months as we dive into our UX Walk-throughs.

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