Interview with standing-down MUA Chair Richard Samson

The Moodle Users Association is a not-for-profit organisation that gives Moodle users a united voice and contributes towards the enhancement of our open source LMS Moodle. By directly funding the development of new features for our software, which are chosen by its members, the MUA contributes to improving Moodle and how education is delivered worldwide.

Members of the MUA are located worldwide, and at MoodleMoot Global 2019 you will have the chance to speak to some of them, including Richard Samson, MUA Chair, September 2018 – September 2019, who joins us today to talk about MUA’s goals and upcoming projects. 

Moodle HQ: Hello, Richard! Thank you for talking to us today. For those who don’t know the Moodle Users Association, could you explain how it works?

Richard: The main activity of the MUA is deciding on enhancements we want to see in Moodle, crowdfunding to finance the work involved, and liaising with Moodle HQ to get the features implemented in an upcoming release of Moodle core. We can finance features that go beyond the budget of end users and their organisations. We are also a forum for informed discussion on the future of Moodle.

Moodle HQ: Which projects has the MUA fostered and funded recently and how do they benefit teachers and learners?

Richard: Most recently in Moodle 3.7 and the imminent 3.8 release, in a combined project with Moodle HQ, we have completely overhauled the Forum activity, one of Moodle’s oldest and most popular.

Before that, in Moodle 3.6, released in November 2018, also with Moodle HQ, we added functionality to the course overview block in the Dashboard, which had already been hugely reconfigured in Moodle 3.3 under an MUA initiative. 

You can see more details about these and other items on our successful projects web page at the MUA Projects page.

Within the MUA we are always discussing which way to go and some of our members would like us to undertake many small projects, rather than the large-scale initiatives that we have tended to focus on so far.

In the four short years of its existence the MUA has already contributed over AUD 400,000 to Moodle core development projects. We are proud of that achievement but we aspire to do so much more. How far we can go will depend on our ability to attract and retain new MUA members. 

Moodle HQ: A group of members of the MUA will be attending MoodleMoot Global in Barcelona in November. What are you going to talk about? What can delegates learn from your sessions?

Richard: The November MoodleMoot Global will be a great opportunity to take stock of our progress and make contact with all Moodle stakeholders. We’ll be holding a short session on our activities on the afternoon of Day 3 and we will have a stand throughout the Moot, where officers and members, including our new Chair Mike Churchward, will be on hand to answer questions of all kinds. Among other things, at the Moot we will be launching our new association brand image and marketing materials. 

We believe that the MUA is a key strategic asset for Moodle. It is vital that institutional users take a step forward to shape Moodle’s future and chip in to finance it.  

Moodle HQ: What kind of Moodle users are MUA members? Can anyone join in and have a say in the future of Moodle?

Richard: We have individual members across five continents, together with 50 or so organisational members, mostly universities around the world. Nonetheless, the MUA is still quite small in comparison to our potential. We aim to attract many new members, in order to fulfil our over-riding aim, to support the development of the open source Moodle learning platform. Membership has many advantages, the most important of which is giving every Moodle user a community and a voice to help shape the future of Moodle.

When I joined the MUA as an individual member in January 2016, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Since then I have been able to contribute to this project in a number of unexpected, exciting ways, and I’ve made new friends around the world, some of whom I will be meeting offline for the first time at the GlobalMoot in Barcelona.

Join us on this adventure! To join the MUA, go to our sign-up page. And make sure to visit our stand at the Global Moot. Meanwhile, if you wish to make contact, drop us a line at info@moodleassocation.org.

Meet the Moodle Users Association at MoodleMoot Global

November 18-20, Barcelona, Spain

Find out more about the MUA at their stand in MoodleMoot Global 2019 and their session on Wednesday, November 20 at 3:20pm

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