Saving Office Files to Moodle

I have to admit I am not sure if this is a logical next step or a backward one….

The following link was tweeted on Twitter about an Office Add-in for Moodle.

Uploading files to Moodle has never been easier.  The Office Add-in for Moodle (OAM) is an add-in for Microsoft Office (versions 2003 and 2007) that allows teachers to open and save Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents to a Moodle website. Today, teachers who use Office and Moodle have to switch back and forth between their web browser and Office applications.  With the OAM, teachers can create, open, edit, and save Moodle documents from within the Office applications.  You no longer need to use your web browser when working with Office documents stored in Moodle.

So what do you need in order to start using the add-in?  OAM does not require anything to be installed on the Moodle server (but note we only tested against Moodle versions 1.X-1.X).  Anyone who is the teacher or owner of a Moodle course can install the add-in and access their documents.  Once installed, the add-in adds two menu items to your File menu (Office 2003) or the Office Button menu: Open from Moodle and Save to Moodle.  In order to browse course files on your Moodle you will need to first tell the add-in the address of your Moodle and the credentials you use to log in.  Once added you can view the list of courses you are enrolled in.  Naturally, students and others can access the content directly from Moodle as they normally would.

This makes it very simple for practitioners to add content to a Moodle course using tools they are familar with. They can  use Office in the usual way, open files…

…and then save those files direct to Moodle.

Now this is great for those staff who upload Office documents to their Moodle courses, now they don’t even need to use a Web Browser…

However I do wonder if this is a forward step in making it easier to use  VLE or a backward step with a focus on content and Office documents rather than open standards and engaging content.

What’s your verdict?

7 thoughts on “Saving Office Files to Moodle”

  1. For me this is a double-edged sword. There is no easy answer. More teachers know office better than they do the web. The understanding is there. I have teachers blindly claiming the value of Moodle is in file distribution. We also have to keep in mind live@edu. The MS solution for Google Apps is developing all the time – last time I looked (summer2009) it wasn’t up-to-google-speed. A Google doc is a web page to all (most) intents and purposes, so an MS equivalent would be useful.

    This particular tool may be a bridging device. But teachers will inevitably have to work online and then become frustrated by the limitations of the current MS offerings. A step in the right direction it is, but an answer (solution) it isn’t.

    It is important to note that using a Google Apps approach helps users to learn about the web in general. And as teachers move to the web they are going to be utilising much more exciting and engaging tools than word processed docs (or web pages) that are irrelevant to these products.

    Wouldn’t it be nicer to see some email integration for Outlook Web Access? Or have I missed that?

  2. For those who actively engage with Moodle and encourage their students to do the same it does seem to be a backwards step.

    It is still about content and not really engaging and developing learning environments, but that adding of content is a first step hurdle some educators are still falling at.

    If it makes Moodle/VLEs seem more accessible to all those educators who are still not engaging it has to be a good thing as it might get rid of one of the excuses for not using/doing it…

    1. The reality is that many tutors spend all their allocated on-line time grappling with clunky file uploads or updates.
      If this makes “James’ Step 1” a breeze, then we can spend more time focussing on the other 4 steps to social-constructivist heaven.
      If it leads to the words “wow that was easy, what else does moodle do?” fall from the mouth of the hardened e-Luddite then it gets my vote.

  3. Should we be adding Microsoft Documents? Hardly inclusive! What about those who don’t have Windows software or Microsoft Office? Shouldn’t we be producing resources that can be accessed using a browser rather than specific software?

  4. Yes, certainly a double edged sword. Makes the process of adding files easier, but will this encourage file dumping? We give a very strong message to staff that Moodle is not a dumping ground for documents. We try and get staff to think carefully about the resources they put onto moodle and the structure of their courses. This then discourages a course being just a long list of links to files etc and the inclusion of a wide variety of features that stops Moodle from being a passive resource. With this in mind I don’t think that the Office add-in will turn back the clock on how Moodle is used – just make one very small process easier.

    If there is a concern over inclusion – perhaps the Easyview for Moodle development from Learning Objectivity http://www.learningobjectivity.com/ may be of interest

    Matt.

  5. Oh, cdome on, it’s not double-edged to make it easier for people to update their site. Who hasn’t struggled with the laboriousness of the Moodle upload process? The reluctance to give teachers a more intuitive way of adding content is just another version of the gatekeeper argument.

    My problem is that the Microsoft Add-in doesn’t actually work for moodle sites which have their courses divided into categories. Which you would have thought would be most sites. Hopefully Microsoft (or the devpt community?) can fix this soon.

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