Microsoft Plugin Connects Office to Moodle
Microsoft has released a new plugin that lets Office users connect directly with the open source learning management system Moodle.
Supporting Office 2003 and 2007, the plugin (Office Add-in for Moodle) allows users to open, edit and save files in Moodle without opening a Web browser. Instead, users can manipulate files directly within Excel, PowerPoint or Word.
Moodle is a learning and course management system that's generally recognized as the most popular available (open source or otherwise), with nearly 1.2 million teachers and 34 million private users participating in more than 3.3 million courses at nearly 50,000 registered sites worldwide. Moodle supports both small and large deployments (with several sites well beyond 100,000 users) and includes course management tools, online assessments, communication and collaboration features, a learning repository and other functionality common to learning management systems.
The Office plugin, developed by Microsoft's Education Labs, is installed locally, with no additional server software required. Once installed, it adds two new menu items to Office applications: "Save to Moodle" and "Open from Moodle." Selecting one of these invokes a Moodle login screen, which lets users specify the URL, user name and password for their LMS. They can then browse courses and file directories, open and save files within existing directories and create new remote directories without leaving their current Office application. (A video demonstrating this functionality can be seen here.)
In a blog post today, Jon Perera, Microsoft's general manager for the Education Products Group, said the plugin was developed to address the needs of educators around the world, the vast majority of whom, Perera asserted, are Office users.
"Like Moodle, Microsoft Office is prevalent in classrooms around the world," Perera wrote. "In fact, more than 90 percent of teachers and students worldwide use Office. So we explored ways to improve how educators can intuitively and efficiently use the two products together. What we developed is simple. The Microsoft Office Add-in for Moodle provides educators an easy way to find, open, and save their Microsoft Office files housed in Moodle."
Microsoft's plugin for Moodle is available now at no charge. Localized versions are available in German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and international English. It currently supports Moodle 1.8 and 1.9 and requires Windows XP SP2 or higher and .NET Framework 2.0 or higher. According to Microsoft, it doesn't work with the Live Services plugin for Moodle. It does require the My Courses module "to be visible on course home pages and for it to be showing courses" in order for the plugin to function properly.
Further information about the plugin can be found here.
Dave Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's educational technology online publications and electronic newsletters.