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Moodle 2.0 for Business Beginner’s Guide

Moodle 2.0 for Business Beginner's Guide

Implement Moodle in your business to streamline your interview, training, and internal communication processes


The Repository integration allows admins to set up external content management systems and use them to complement Moodle’s own file management system. Using this integration you can now manage content outside of Moodle and publish it to the system once the document or other content is ready. The Portfolio integration enables users to store their Moodle content in an external e-portfolio system to share with evaluators, peers, and others.

Using Google Docs as a repository for Moodle

A growing number of organizations are using Google Docs as their primary office suite. Moodle allows you to add Google Docs as a repository so your course authors can link to word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation and form documents on Google Docs.

Time for action – configuring the Google Docs plugin

To use Google Docs as a repository for Moodle, we first need to configure the plugin like we did with Alfresco.

  1. Login to Moodle as a site administrator.
  2. From the Site Administration menu, select Plugins and then Repositories.
  3. Select Manage Repositories from the Repositories menu.
  4. Next to the Google Docs plugin, select Enabled and Visible from the Active menu.
  5. On the Configure Google Docs plugin page, give the plugin a different name if you refer to Google Docs as something different in your organization.
  6. Click on Save.

What just happened

You have now set up the Google Docs repository plugin. Each user will have access to their Google Docs account when they add content to Moodle.

Time for action – adding a Google Doc to your Moodle course

After you have configured the Google Docs plugin, you can add Google Docs to your course.

  1. Login to Moodle as a user with course editing privileges.
  2. Turn on the editing mode and select File from the Add a resource.. menu in the course section where you want the link to appear.
  3. Give the file a name. Remember the name will be the link the user selects to get the file, so be descriptive.
  4. Add a description of the file.
  5. In the Content section, click the Add.. button to bring up the file browser.
  6. Click the Google Docs plugin in the File Picker pop-up window.
  7. The first time you access Google Docs from Moodle, you will see a login button on the screen.
  8. Click the button and Moodle will take you to the Google Docs login page.
  9. Login to Google Docs. Docs will now display a security warning, letting you know an external application (Moodle) is trying to access your file repository. Click on the Grant Access button at the bottom of the screen.

  10. Now you will be taken back to the File Picker. Select the file you want to link to your course.
  11. If you want to rename the document when it is linked to Moodle, rename it in the Save As text box.
  12. Then edit the Author field if necessary and choose a copyright license.
  13. Click on Select this file.
  14. Select the other options for the file as described in Getting Started with Moodle 2.0 for Business.
  15. Click on Save and return to course.

What just happened

You have now added a Google Doc to your Moodle course. You can add any of the Google Doc types to your course and share them with Moodle users.

Google Docs File Formats
The Moodle Google Docs plugin makes a copy of the document in a standard office format (rtf, xls, or ppt). When you save the file, any edits to the document after you save it to Moodle will not be displayed.

Have a go hero

Try importing the other Google Docs file formats into your Moodle course and test the download.

Time for reflection

Using Google Docs effectively requires clear goals, planning, integration with organizational workflows, and training. If you want to link Moodle with an external content repository, how will you ensure the implementation is successful? What business processes could you automate by using one of these content services?

Exporting content to e-portfolios

Now that we’ve integrated Moodle with external content repositories it’s time to turn our attention to exporting content from Moodle. The Moodle 2 portfolio system allows users to export Moodle content in standard formats, so they can share their work with other people outside of Moodle, or organize their work into portfolios aimed at a variety of audiences. In a corporate environment, portfolios can be used to demonstrate competency for promotion or performance measurement. They can also be used as a directory of expertise within a company, so others can find people they need for special projects.

One of the more popular open source portfolio systems is called Mahara. Mahara is a dedicated e-portfolio system for creating collections of work and then creating multiple views on those collections for specific audiences. It also includes a blogging platform, resume builder, and social networking tools. In recent versions, Mahara has begun to incorporate social networking features to enable users to find others with similar interests or specific skill sets.

To start, we’ll briefly look at installing Mahara, then work through the integration of Moodle with Mahara. Once we’ve got the two systems talking to each other, we can look at how to export content from Moodle to Mahara and then display it in an e-portfolio.

Time for action – installing Mahara

Mahara is a PHP and MySQL application like Moodle. Mahara and Moodle share a very similar architecture, and are designed to be complementary in many respects.

You can use the same server setup we’ve already created for Moodle in Getting Started with Moodle 2.0 for Business. However, we need to create a new database to house the Mahara data as well as ensure Mahara has its own space to operate.

  1. Go to http://mahara.org. There is a Download link on the right side of the screen. Download the latest stable version (version 1.3 as of this writing). You will need version 1.3 or later to fully integrate with Moodle 2.
  2. For the best results, follow the instructions on the Installing Mahara wiki page, http://wiki.mahara.org/System_Administrator%27s_Guide/Installing_Mahara.
  3. If you are installing Mahara on the same personal machine as Moodle, be sure to put the Mahara folder at your web server’s root level and keep it separate from Moodle. Your URL for Mahara should be similar to your URL for Moodle.

What just happened

You have now installed Mahara on your test system. Once you have Mahara up and running on your test server, you can begin to integrate Mahara with Moodle.

Time for action – configuring the networking and SSO

To begin the process of configuring Moodle and Mahara to work together, we need to enable Moodle Networking. You will need to make sure you have xmlrpc, curl, and openssl installed and configured in your PHP build. Networking allows Moodle to share users and authentication with another system. In this case, we are configuring Moodle to allow Moodle users to automatically login to Mahara when they login to Moodle. This will create a more seamless experience for the users and enable them to move back and forth between the systems.

The steps to configure the Mahara portfolio plugin are as follows:

  1. From the Site administration menu, select Advanced features. Find the Networking option and set it to On. Select Save changes.
  2. The Networking option will then appear in the site admin menu. Select Networking, then Manage Peers.
  3. In the Add a new host form, copy the URL of your Mahara site into the hostname field and then select Mahara as the server type.
  4. Open a new window and login to your Mahara site as the site admin. Select the Site Admin tab.
  5. On your Mahara site, select Configure Site. Then select Networking.
  6. Copy the public key from the BEGIN tag to the END CERTIFICATE and paste it into the Public Key field in the Moodle networking form.

    Moodle 2.0 with Mahara and GoogleDocs for Business

  7. On the resulting page, select the Services tab to set up the services necessary to integrate the portfolio.
  8. You will now need to configure the SSO services. Moodle and Mahara can make the following services available for the other system to consume.

    Moodle/Mahara Services Descriptions
    Remote enrollment service:
    Publish: If you Publish the Remote Enrollment Service, Mahara admins will be able to enroll students in Moodle courses. To enable this, you must also publish to the Single Sign On Service Provider service.
    Subscribe: Subscribe allows you to remotely enroll students in courses on the remote server. It doesn’t apply in the context of Mahara.
    Portfolio Services:
    You must enable both Publish and Subscribe to allow users to send content to Mahara.
    SSO: (Identity Provider)
    If you Publish the SSO service, users can go from Moodle to Mahara without having to login again.
    If you Subscribe to this service, users can go from Mahara to Moodle without having to login again.
    SSO: (Service Provider)
    This is the converse of Identity Provider service. If you enabled Publish previously, you must enable Subscribe here. If you enabled Subscribe previously, you must enable Publish here.

  9. Click on Save changes.

What just happened

You have just enabled Single Sign-On between Moodle and Mahara. We are now halfway through the setup and now we can configure the Mahara to listen for Moodle users.

Have a go hero

Moodle Networking is also used to enable Moodle servers to communicate with each other. The Moodle Hub system is designed on top of Moodle networking to enable teachers to share courses with each other, and enable multiple Moodle servers to share users. How could you use this feature to spread Moodle within your organization? Could you create an internal and an external facing Moodle and have them talk to each other? Could different departments each use a Moodle and share access to courses using Moodle networking?

For your “have a go hero” activity, design a plan to use Moodle networking within your organization.


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