Here at Candle Digital, we’re big fans of both WordPress and Moodle as platforms for online learning products.
Both have recently made some significant changes in the way that they work, so here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know:
WordPress recently launched a new editor called ‘Gutenberg’. And no, it’s not named after the actor who played Mahoney in Police Academy, it’s named after the founder of the printing press, Johannes Gutenberg.
Considering that the introduction of the printing press is comparable in impact to the internet*, naming your update after its instigator is a pretty bold move. So, no pressure for this update to perform then, WordPress!
Why is the update needed?
WordPress, like many other content management systems, is great for allowing those with limited design and IT experience to create their own websites, and it’s tools for editing content have always been simplistic. Whilst it’s easy enough to create a page with a few paragraphs of text, a couple of images, and maybe even a video, anything even moderately complex, such as adding columns of text, has always been difficult. It can also be frustrating when you click ‘save’ and your actual page looks nothing like it does in the page editor!
Sure, there are plugins available to give you more flexibility over your content editing, but they’re often expensive or difficult to understand.
Enter the Gutenberg editor…
Gutenberg is a ‘block-based’ editor intended to revolutionise the way we write content. Instead of having one content editor where you insert all your text and images, Gutenberg allows you to create ‘blocks’ of content that you can easily insert, rearrange and style. You can give it a try on the WordPress site.
The impact of the changes
WordPress is a loved and well-used platform, so, like changing a comfortable pair of slippers, there’s been some resistance to the upgrade. News that WordPress 5.0 is due to be released so close to the key shopping season of Christmas has also ruffled a few feathers in the development community. Certain changes need to be made to themes and plugins to take full advantage of Gutenberg’s features, so the concern about potential issues arising from the update is understandable.
For those not wanting to switch to Gutenberg just yet, fear not, the classic editor is still available. WordPress has confirmed that it will be supported until December 2021 which gives everyone further time to adjust.
Our thoughts on the updates
In terms of our clients who are based on WordPress, we’ll be letting the dust settle first before making any changes, as we always like to see new updates mature before applying them. WordPress makes security updates available for a range of different versions, so we can ensure all websites stay secure in the meantime.
Our initial opinion is that the new Gutenberg editor is a good move and will be helping our clients use it to its full potential next year. We think it’ll open a lot of new opportunities to create more effective content.
After a slight delay, the team at Moodle HQ in Perth, Australia, have launched their latest iteration: Moodle 3.6.
Moodle is an open source learning management system that’s popular in schools and educational establishments, but also has its uses in the commercial market. We love it because it’s full of features and, whilst it comes with a fairly steep learning curve, it has a huge amount of flexibility in terms of course and user management.
The latest Moodle update includes:
- Improvements to the general interface for students and additional ways for admins to customise it
- New ways to interact with other people on your course via a new group messaging service
- Additional privacy features that give users better control of what data is shared, and the ability to delete their own user data
- Additional integration features, such as integration with NextCloud and LTI 1.3
- New types of completion badges to allow users to record and share their achievements
- Improvements to quizzes and the grade reports they feed into
Our thoughts on the updates
We’re particularly excited by the improvements to the user interface. Whilst Moodle has always been strong functionally, it’s never been the best to look at! Historically, the interface has been dull and difficult to improve aesthetically, which can be a challenge when using Moodle in a commercial space. The new course interface has come on leaps and bounds and we can’t wait to use it in some of our partners’ courses.
We’re also keen to explore the new messaging features. These days, we feel that social interaction within digital courses is becoming more of a requirement than a nice-to-have as learners desire a less isolating experience and one where they can learn from others.
* John Naughton’s book From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg is well worth a read on how the impact of the internet can be predicted based on the introduction of the printing press (hint – it’s unpredictable 😉 ).
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