Of Moodle and First Class Honours

Well, time for a nice hefty blog post I think, as I haven’t done one in a while.
I got my final results from university this week. I got a first. Everyone I know has been congratulating me, which is quite overwhelming. I’m happy, but I don’t seem to be as happy for myself as everyone else is for me! It’s probably becuase I was worried that I wouldn’t get one, that when I did it was more a cause for relief then celebration.
Nonetheless, it’s the weekend now, so party time tonight. Hells Yeah.

I’ve also moved into a new flat with my lovely girlfriend, and started a new job. I’m working at Taunton’s College in Southampton as their in-house web developer. This involves working primarily with Moodle, the open-source Course Management System/Virtual Learning Environment. This is awesome, for 2 reasons. 1 – I get paid to code PHP, which is what I do for fun anyway. 2 – I get paid to contribute to an open source project, which is a position I’ve always wanted to be in. And it pays well enough for my nice new flat. And I get a local government pension. And I get to help people teach. Winner. Dream first job? I think so.

Moodle in itself is a pretty cool system, although it’s suffered a bit from it’s evolutionary development. The main problems are that when new and better solutions get introduced, the old ones remain. This is mainly a backwards-compatibility thing which means a lot of it is being culled for version 2 (the upcoming major release), but it means at the moment there are 3 different ways of keeping track of which javacscript files a page needs, a really flexible permission system which relies on an older “roles” system for assigning the permissions, and lang files for older components all over the place.

That said, the current “best practice” provides some really nifty plug-in APIs,and the database abstraction layer makes interacting with the database a breeze. Hopefully once version 2 hits the mirrors, the cruft will have been cut back, and the new plug-in points will make it an even more versatile platform than it already is (come on, gradebook plugins!).

The Moodle community’s also brilliant, as are my Taunton’s colleagues. I look forward to working with them all to make Moodle better!

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