The Microsoft Education Labs team have just launched the Office Add-in for Moodle (or should it be the Moodle Add-in for Office?). This launch builds upon the success of the availability of the Microsoft Live Services Plug-in for Moodle which launched last July.
The idea behind the add-in is simple. Now, when you got to Open or Save a file in Office 2003 or 2007, you can select to ‘Open from Moodle’ or ‘Save to Moodle’ directly. This makes it easier for your users to use Moodle natively, and hopefully will encourage them to make better use of your Moodle installation. (If you have a SharePoint-based learning platform, you get similar functionality in Office 2010)
The “Office Add-in for Moodle”
Uploading files to Moodle is now much easier. The Office Add-in for Moodle (OAM) is an add-in for Microsoft Office (versions 2003 and 2007) that allows teachers to open and save Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents to a Moodle website. Today, teachers who use Office and Moodle have to switch back and forth between their web browser and Office applications. With the OAM, teachers can create, open, edit, and save Moodle documents from within the Office applications. You no longer need to use your web browser when working with Office documents stored in Moodle.
So what do you need in order to start using the add-in? OAM does not require anything to be installed on the Moodle server (note we only tested against Moodle versions 1.8-1.9). Anyone who is the teacher or owner of a Moodle course can install the add-in and access their documents. Once installed, the add-in adds two menu items to your File menu (Office 2003) or the Office Button menu: Open from Moodle and Save to Moodle. In order to browse course files on your Moodle you will need to first tell the add-in the address of your Moodle and the credentials you use to log in. Once added you can view the list of courses you are enrolled in. Naturally, students and others can access the content directly from Moodle as they normally would.
We focused on teachers and content specialists first, since we know most documents posted to Moodles come from teachers. We’ve gotten some requests already about adding support for students and assignments, but we want to hear from you. So check it out, and let the EducationLabs team know what you think and if there’s anything you want them to work on. In order to get this beta tool in your hands right away and to get feedback before this gets fully locked down, we decided to roll this out before embarking on synchronization with other add-ins and other Moodle functionality.
It’s worth browsing on the Education Labs site for other projects recently released www.educationlabs.com