Every Monday we’ve been introducing you to helpful, committed Moodlers from throughout the Moodleverse. Recently we met up virtually with Luiggi Sansonetti in France, Germán Valero in Mexico, Jill Lyall in Australia, and our very own Mary Cooch and Sander Bangma from Moodle HQ.
This Monday we’re in Baltimore, Maryland with Ben Reynolds, Sr Program Manager for the Centre for Talented Youth at the John Hopkins University and a popular, long-standing Particularly Helpful Moodler on Moodle.org
Read our chat with Ben to learn more about what keeps him involved with Moodle and to our community:
Moodle HQ: Thanks Ben for taking the time to chat to us. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got to be involved with Moodle?
Ben: Spring of 2008.
When Blackboard and WebCT merged, CTY’s Online Programs emerged from a very short flirtation with Sakai to go with Moodle. As opposed to WebCT’s sense of “go over here,” “go over there,” in Moodle you just went down the classroom’s main page. Students always knew where they were. I loved the simplicity.
Moodle HQ: Which aspects of Moodle does your job involve and how does being a part of the community help you with that?
Ben: My job title is a nice phrase for “fixer,” a person who gets things done, or, more recently, a person who makes sure things are done by others. This requires knowing about uploading students, suspending students, Quiz, Lesson, Legacy Files, external repositories — the aspects of Moodle that touch my students and instructors. Also, how to fix things that students and instructors break.
In terms of curriculum and course building, knowledge of Moodle helps me help subject area specialists and course designers. The approach is, “Don’t tell me what you think you can do; tell me what you WANT to do.”
And that’s where the community comes in. The obvious next step is to find others who have wanted to do something similar. Or find others who are puzzled by the same aspect of Moodle. There’s also giving back. I, too, have restored a course onto the site’s front page. When the community saves you from a disaster, you owe the community payback.
Moodle HQ: You’ve attended a number of Moots both in the USA and elsewhere. What has been your impression of them and how useful have you found them?
Ben: I’ve been to three UK/IE moots and one in Minneapolis (Minnesota, USA). They are very friendly affairs. You meet lots of people. The galas are always fun. The presentations range from the seriously geeky (which can be fun if it’s about something that interests you) to helping teachers build courses to a simple introduction to Moodle.
Most useful is stuff you didn’t know you needed to know, such as Martin presenting in Minneapolis about Long-Term Support release versions. In Edinburgh, there was a wonderful presentation about badges and how a badge does not equal a grade.
Moodle HQ: What are you most excited about in terms of the future of Moodle and the open source project? What are you looking forward to seeing in 2018 and beyond?
Ben: Usability improvements. I’m seeing some of that work in 3.4, along with Learning Analytics (my whole office is cheering about that). Accessibility, which is really just promoting good teaching for all students. Small touchscreens — mobile is THE thing. I want to see my students (well, imagine them; we’re totally distance education) waiting for their school bus and doing their CTY course on their phone.
Thanks Ben for taking the time to talk to us today. We really appreciate it.