OU Conf: Tim Hunt – open source developing

Tim Hunt – Developing in the Moodle open source community: Connections promotes quality.

Has been a developer on the VLE project.  Most of this audience know what open source software and Moodle are.  (That’s a relief.)

Goes through software, free software (Stallman), open source (Raymond).  (After we’ve just established the audience already knows this, ah well.)  Licensing.  Issues with distros and mess and how you manage it. “Open Source projects have incredibly good project management” with a benevolent dictator.

Moodle principles, Martin Dougiamas – Moodle community is a learning community.

Tim – took responsibility for Moodle quiz as module maintainer from May 2006.  He really enjoys it, done a lot of good for OU rep, has given us a degree of control.

Very surprised at the peer review leading to better tools effect – enough eyes principle.  A very potent testing team.  People convinced him that he was wrong on some proposals, “and that’s quite a difficult thing to do”.  30 people who regularly participate in the forums on this, despite the hundreds or thousands of Moodle sites.  Wouldn’t get the feedback at just the OU.

Also get stuff for free – stuff you want but can’t afford to do for yourself – STACK (maths assessment system from Univ of Brum – in tomorrow’s talk!), new question bank, email notification.

But … it takes time away.

Jonathan Fine – What’s the secret strategy for convincing you that you’re wrong?

TIm – Oh, you have to be right.  And make a good argument.

s/o – Emergent leadership role – are there examples of Open Source communities where that doesn’t happen?

Tim – Hundreds of thousands of projects on SourceForge going nowhere – if you don’t have that then nothing happens.  Martin is an okay software developer but an excellent leader.

s/o – It’s open to the community – if it’s good and dropped, can take on a life of its own and someone else can pick it up.

Linda – In terms of quality tools – is this a good model for us?

Tim – Yes.  Choices – buy commercial, build our own, do open source.  The commercial stuff was no good.  Some think we should have done our own.  Moodle avoids us having the arguments about how it should work since it already does work, incorporates a lot of best practice, which is almost more valuable than the code itself.


Author: dougclow

Academic in the Institute of Educational Technology, the Open University, UK. Interested in technology-enhanced learning and learning analytics.