Last month, when I wrote that new Moodle integrations with Microsoft technology were on the way, I didn’t have an exact date, but forecast ‘late January’. And how time flies – because they’ve just arrived!
Overnight, the work from our Microsoft Open Technologies team and the Remote Learner team (a Moodle partner), was released as open source Moodle plugins – enabling close integration between Moodle and Office 365. This is key news for education institutions, because there’s a huge overlap between the 50,000+ Moodle installations and the millions of Office 365 Education users.
Now schools, TAFEs and universities that are using Moodle and Office 365 Education can now simplify the lives of staff and students:
- Teaching staff and students can now use their Office 365 account to login to Moodle
No longer will students need two separate identities – one to login to their LMS, and a separate one to login to their email and collaboration space.
By connecting the two systems, it means that teachers and students can store their files on their OneDrive rather than having to have a separate file storage system in Moodle. It also means that where you use Office 365’s SharePoint for document management, you can use it’s document workflow and history features.
- Moodle calendar entries can now automatically appear in the Office 365 calendars of students and staff
As the Office 365 calendar (in Exchange) is the one that is normally synced to the phone or PC, it means that a teacher adding an assignment deadline or lecture into Moodle means it will show up on the students’ calendar on their phone/computer!
- OneNote integration into Moodle means that students can now complete an assignment in OneNote and submit it into Moodle, whether they are online or offline.
And staff can provide feedback to the student via OneNote too (eg handwritten notes on an essay, or video/voice recordings of feedback).
- Integration between Office Mix and Moodle allows teachers to embed a Mix directly into a Moodle course
Office Mix allows you to create a digital learning resource directly within PowerPoint, and then make the recording available to students on the web. By using a single login between Moodle and Office 365, you can share Mixes which can only be viewed by students within your institution, as well as public Mixes.
- Moodle course documents can now be stored in OneDrive by staff and students
- Moodle can now appear in your Office 365 app launcher, visible from all the different Office 365 online services
This means your students don’t need to remember yet another portal URL – it can all be accessed through the Office 365 portal your students are already using for email, file sharing etc
One of the significant advantages of this approach is that students and staff get the latest capabilities of Office 365 on all of their devices, rather than you having to adapt your Moodle service to deliver to different devices and capabilities.
- If you assign a piece of work in Moodle through OneNote, it means the students can access that work on all the different OneNote options – on the web, on their PC or Mac, and on the Android, iPhone, iPad and Windows Phone apps. And OneNote handles the synchronisation between devices and the OneDrive cloud services, so your students can choose to work offline or online at any time.
- If you share resources as an Office document – eg a PowerPoint file – students can open and edit the files on their PC, phone or web-browser. Online and offline.
What this means is that you could choose to hide the complexity of your Learning Management System and use the Office 365 ability to sync files offline to deliver work directly onto a students’ device! So the first a student sees would be a note appear in their calendar to tell them about an assignment, and then it shows up in their OneDrive folder on their PC, or in their OneNote file on their phone…
If you are a Moodle user, then you’ll want to take a look at the announcements over on the Microsoft Open Technologies blog, and pass it along to the team responsible for maintaining your Moodle system in your institution.
I’d recommend the Remote Learner blog if you want to understand the technical approach and for more detailed descriptions of the two systems integrate.
Don’t forget I’ve also recently blogged about the new Moodle Mobile app released for Windows 8 and Windows Phone, and the option for you to be running Moodle in the cloud on Microsoft Azure (so that you can more quickly and affordably deploy Moodle instances, or convert existing Moodle servers to run in the cloud rather than on your own servers)