Collaborative tools status gadget
The collaborative tools status Google gadget informs students as to whether there is any unread content within collaborative activities on their course VLE sites.
Connecting to the Moodle 2 VLE via the “SNAPP” plugin (developed for the DOULS project) the gadget receives information detailing:
- Active courses the user is currently enrolled on
- Collaborative activities available to the user on each course – these are ForumNG, OUBlog or OUWiki Moodle modules
- If there is any unread content on each of the activities.
This information is exposed via a Moodle web service that is installed in the gadget directory (gadgets local plugin). The SNAPP plugin enables secure communication (via the OpenSocial OAuth signing gadget feature) between the gadget and this web service.
The web service interrogates the system to highlight unread activity content via two methods. For ForumNG activities there is functionality within the module code that exposes if a user has yet to read posts. For all other modules the web service checks the last updated date of the activity against user visits in the Moodle log. In this instance obtaining an accurate reflection of whether the user has visited the activity is dependent on the data available in the log; at the OU log data is kept for approximately 2 months.
Development of this gadget was incredibly quick (1 day initial build) and straight-forward; demonstrating the flexibility of using the combination of Gadget technologies alongside our SNAPP plugin libraries and Moodle web services. Because of this the final gadget functionality closely mirrors the initial requirement that was collated from the visioning stage of the project.
The source code for the gadget (and SNAPP plugin) is available on the DOULS project github area.
ForumNG, OUWiki and OUBlog are Moodle activity modules created and maintained by The Open University. They are publically available in the Moodle plugins repository and also on the Open University’s Moodle developments github area.