Today marks the 15th Birthday of Moodle, everyone’s favourite open-source Learning Management System. The first version of Moodle was released August 20, 2002. Incidentally, it shares a birthday with Martin Dougiamas, the founder and CEO. Happy Birthday, Martin!
The first time I used Moodle was a version of 1.9 shortly after I started teaching at Miller TAFE in 2009. Back then I used Moodle mostly as a PDF repository like most teachers just starting with it. In fact, I probably didn’t even use it that much for that, as I just sent students to the shared network drive. Moodle was a curiosity, but 1.9 was pretty awful. In time I started playing with it, here and there. I started trying different activities and resources. Being a web guy, I was interested, but I was not fond of the HTML and CSS it generated.
I can’t remember exactly when and how I got more involved. I suppose it was when we switched to the next training package. As part of this switch, we revamped the course, chose new electives and built new clusters. I might have been a part-time teacher but I was asked for my input for the web courses for the new Diploma of IT General. I highly recommended we add a CMS unit, and started researching the best CMS to use for the Diploma. It must have been around then that I was given the keys to our little 1.9 Moodle.
I started incorporating more Moodle activities into my teaching; it’s kind of funny but I was teaching Joomla! and then later WordPress using Moodle. I remember spending a winter break upgrading to Moodle 2.5, so that must have been 2013. I cringe now thinking of all the bad practices I did then. Raise your hand if you’ve installed a plugin on a live production site just to test it out. But I was lucky or clever enough, or both, to not lose anything important along the way.
It’s a bit of a long story but in 2014, I decided to focus more on the Moodle community. I was much more of a participant in the WordPress community but I guess it was just a numbers game. I had given up teaching Joomla! to my students as a CMS due to an increasing lack of quality free plugins for their final projects. Developers were switching to WordPress. And while I’m a WordPress fan, and I was happy, I have always been opposed to one tool for every job. I realised that while my WordPress community friends appreciated my efforts there, participation in this smaller but worthwhile project would be more meaningful. There’s just so many people participating in WordPress that I know this community I love is in good hands. Directing my efforts to Moodle would be worth more.
Moots and more
And so I was off to my first Moot in Nelson, New Zealand in September 2014. I met some good friends and colleagues there, including my now boss Shane Elliott, and Martin himself. That was the start of the ride, and within a year, I had attended another Moot in Japan and then the first Australian Moot put on by Moodle HQ in Melbourne 2015. I was invited to speak at that Moot and I still consider it one of the highlights of my career to be on the big stage. I have met so many good friends in those first three Moots, and I continue to meet more around the world online with the Moodle Users Association.
On Moodle’s birthday, I find myself looking back on the three years I’ve been an active participant in this community with fond memories. Moodle has grown quite a bit just in these three years, and I know this community will continue to grow. Congratulations Martin and Moodle HQ on 15 years.