Monday, November 23, 2009

Moodle Reporting and User Management: Is MOOMIS the answer?

Moodle does a lot of things great, but site wide reporting and bulk user management are definitely not included in those great things. If you are a Moodle administrator for an organization I am sure you know the pain of having to go into each course site to produce grade reports for multiple courses. In my case, I have to send out a weekly report listing every users grades in every course they have taken on Moodle. This means I have to go into each course site and export a grade report to an excel spreadsheet and then merge all of those separate spreadsheets into one big grade report. To complicate things even more, I have to maintain separate groups within each course site so that users can be sorted by position or location. To my horror, if a user changes positions or locations I have to move them to a new group in each course site. When you have a lot of users and a lot of courses this can become a very time consuming process. This puts me in the position of desperately needing a Moodle plugin that will make it easy for me to export site wide reports, and manage site wide user groups rather than having to complete these tasks repeatedly in each course site.

What is MOOMIS?
My Moodle administration despair lead me into a search for some kind of plugin or modification that will help me overcome these challenges. I was surprised to find that there aren't a whole lot of options out there until a conversation with Barry Sampson led me to the open source option called MOOMIS by aardpress. Keeping in Moodle style MOOMIS is open source and an acronym for Modular, Object, Oriented, Managed, Intelligence, System. It's not just one plugin but a suite of the business tools listed below:
  • Communication - Moodle already has messaging and email capabilities but it's nothing special. Moomis' communication tool adds a few bells and whistles so you can do things like send emails to groups and add attachments.
  • Competency Manager - This looks like a great tool for regulated markets such as insurance or health care. The competency manager allows you to setup "competencies" that can be linked to job titles. Users then complete coursework to work toward achieving these competencies. When they do reach the competency level for their position they have verified that they are competent for their position.
  • CPD (Continuous Professional Development) - This tool is key for creating site wide reports with Moomis' "Report Creator." Every course on Moodle needs a CPD which is awarded to the student for completing a course. When the user makes it to the end of the course they have to click on the CPD activity which will then award them a CPD for either achieving a certain score on a quiz or by clicking a box verifying that they have completed the course.
  • Events Manager - The "Events Manager" allows you to allocate "Real World" events such as instructor led training to users without having to create a course site specifically for that event. This is a nice feature which makes it easier to integrate instructor led training with eLearning and track it all in one place. As a big advocate for "Blended" training programs this is a feature that intrigued me.
  • Groups - The "Groups" feature had me drooling when I first started researching Moomis because of it's ability to create site wide reports. In my situation I am dependent on groups so that I can sort users by region or position when looking at the gradebook. This tool allows you to create site wide groups so that you can then create site wide reports sorted by those groups. I was hoping that this feature would save me from having to manage separate groups in each course site on Moodle.
  • Performance Manager - The "Performance Manager" is appealing to us corporate folk because of it's ability to tie learning objectives in with business objectives. We all know that the key to proving ROI in training is to tie learning objectives to what the overall business is trying to achieve. The performance manager allows you to setup business objectives in Moodle and then link users and courses to those objectives. This tool makes it obvious which courses or learning objectives are contributing to achieving business objectives.
  • Report Creator - This is where the rubber meets the road. The main goal I am trying to achieve is to find an easy way to create site wide grade reports and that is what the report creator is designed to do. The report creator allows you to produce reports in a variety of different formats listing CPD's awarded to users in all courses they have taken on the site. I was hoping this would save me a lot of time by not having to go into each course site to export a grade report and then merge all those together to create a site wide report
What MOOMIS doesn't do
Before diving in and installing MOOMIS so that I could take it for a spin I thought it was going to be the answer to all my problems. In particular, I was drooling over the "Groups" feature and the "Report Creator." Unfortunately these features don't quite work the way I was hoping for so I am going to have to continue my search for a plugin that will address my issues. However, MOOMIS does have potential and with some enhancements I think it could take the corporate world by storm. Here are my suggestions for MOOMIS that would make it the Moodle add on of my and I am sure many other Moodle administrators dreams.
  • Groups - The idea of being able to manage groups site wide rather than course by course is fantastic. However, MOOMIS groups do not cascade down to the course sites. MOOMIS groups are great for creating MOOMIS reports but if you need to use separate groups for any course activities or to sort through the gradebook then you will still need to manage those groups on a course by course basis. MOOMIS groups are only helpful for MOOMIS tools such as the report creator and communication tools. I would love this tool if the MOOMIS groups automatically imported into each course site so that I could manage all groups from one spot instead of in each course site. Unfortunately, MOOMIS groups do not address the problem I was hoping to overcome because I still need to manage groups in every single course site.
  • Continuous Professional Development(CPD) - Here's another great idea that just needs a little tweaking. CPD's work a lot like units for college courses. Students are awarded a specified number of CPD's for completing a course. My problem is with how course completion is determined. The only options for awarding CPD's are to automatically award the CPD for passing a certain moodle quiz or by having the student click a box verifying that they completed the course. This isn't ideal for me because I try to avoid quizzes and usually use other graded activities in courses such as Moodle lessons and SCORM modules developed with Adobe Captivate, but none of these activities are recognized by MOOMIS. If you are going to use any graded activity to determine completion it has to be a quiz on Moodle and can only be one quiz. Or else you can use the verification option where learners click a box to verify that they completed the course but I don't really trust my learners to not just scroll to the bottom of the course and click it no matter how engaging the eLearning course is. MOOMIS could overcome this option by awarding CPD's based off the "Total Score" in the course. This way you could ensure that learners completed all activities in a course because all of the activities contribute to the total score. It doesn't make sense to me to determine completion of a course solely on a final quiz rather than the culmination of everything the student has done in the course.
  • Report Creator - I think the Report Creator would be great if CPD's were based off the courses total score. The report creator produces reports based off of CPD's, enrollments, or quiz scores, so really your only producing a report of what users have done on quizzes in each course. I was hoping that the report creator would produce reports based off of all activities including SCORM and Lessons but it does not. All MOOMIS needs to do to overcome this problem is to award CPD's based off of the courses total score.
In the end, MOOMIS isn't the answer to my issues at this time but I am happy to hear that they will be continuing to make enhancements and are actually coming out with a new release in January. If you are thinking about implementing MOOMIS you might want to wait until the new release in January. In fact, if you want to test out MOOMIS try doing it on a test version of Moodle or at least make sure you back up your database before installing it. Luckily I tested MOOMIS on my test version of Moodle which now has CSS problems. My columns are all over the place after installing it. I've included links below to the aardpress site describing Moodle and to the download on SourceForge. If you decide to try it out please let me know what you think of it or if you have any suggestions for overcoming the hurdles I described in this post.

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19 comments:

Elearing said...

I'm sure that it is the best tool created yet. I know that they will be able to create and discover new innovated tools to make a better approach for end users.

JFDragon said...

As usual, great post Joe!

Did I have talk to you that I used the Subcourse module (http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?d=13&rid=1775&filter=1) to perform that kind of report? I've ~2500 peoples in 65 courses. The subcourse module give me the possibility to import in a metacourse the total result of every course for every student. If one of them is not registered in a course no result appear in the column of the course.

And for the management of the inscription of the students, I've used the self-registration system of moodle by allowing a key code for each course and giving the possibility to a student to unassign himself as student in a course...

I don't know if it could help... maybe not...

JFDragon

Joe Deegan said...

Hi JF,
Yes, I did try the subcourse module after a discussion with you and it was almost a perfect fit but I ran into a few issues. The main issue for me was maintaining groups in each course. I need to have several groups in each course so I can view grades by region or position. When students self register in a meta course they can use a key code to be automatically grouped according to the code they enter but those groups don't cascade down to the child courses. That puts me in the position of having to go into each child course and manually creating groups. It's easier for me to maintain groups with an Excel upload. Otherwise using meta courses and the subcourse module would be perfect for me. How do you get around needing to use groups? Thanks for the suggestion JF.

JFDragon said...

I don't have try to use the groups... but I was thinking that the meta-courses could give us the possibility of making it from a standard hierarchical way (on meta-course and many child courses) or with something like a child course form many metacourse... (see scenario 2 on http://docs.moodle.org/en/Metacourses)

I look at the metacourses possibilities a long time ago and maybe I have miss something... or maybe it's to late now and I have to go sleep...

But your explorations of the subject interest me a lot.

BTW - I talk about you last week in a meeting concerning the possibilities of the Web2... I'm not an early adopter, but it's interesting to share an exemple of collaboration on the Web to solve problems that no others in our own business could help us to faced

Continue your great work and explorations!!

JFDragon said...

oupppssss

I just read the MoodleDocs I have refere in the last comment and I found that "meta course enrolments do not preserve groups".

I think it's realy time to go sleep ;-D

Have a nice day

Joe Deegan said...

Thanks for the compliment JF. I'm sure I will come across an option that works. Just need to find the time to experiment more.

LMS said...

Great article, Joe! Thanks for sharing your detailed evaluation of moomis. i agree, corporate moodle users need the ability to organise staff e-learning, CPD and globally track performance across the LMS.

Sharon Boller said...

Thanks, Joe, for directing me to your post. It was helpful; I will share the link next week at SALT.

Eddie said...

Joe...I love your blog! I'm on the same exact boat. I don't know if you ever came up with a solution, but this has me stumped. I work for an organization that has A LOT of movement from department to department and thousands of employees. Having to manually make changes would be a nightmare. Please do share if you come across a solution...I'll do the same.

Joe Deegan said...

Thanks Eddie! I have not found many options for user admin other than the "Enhanced User Admin" plugin. For reporting there are some other options out there but I haven't had much time to do any research. Here are links to the tools I have come across which may help you out.

Enhanced User Admin Plugin:
Doesn't help with preserving groups and moving people around but it does have some nice options for assigning groups of people to courses and some other nice bells and whistles which make admin tasks easier. I'll probably start using this one but would like something more robust.
http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?d=13&rid=893&filter=1

ELIS by Remote Learner: This looks like a great reporting option that may address all of my obstacles but it requires that you host with Remote Learner which I'm not looking to do at this point.
http://www.remote-learner.net/elis

SCORM Reporting Module by Kineo: This looks like a great reporting option if you mainly use SCORM based modules. I'm not sure if you need to host with Kineo to use it.
http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/CONTRIB-1394

Hope this helps.

Elizabeth I said...

I saw that there's a new version of Moomis now available - any chance we can get John to test the new product and blog about it again?

Joe Deegan said...

Hi Elizabeth,
Thanks for letting me know about the new version of Moomis. I'm curious to see what kind of improvements they made. I've got a few to do's on the list but will definitely add this to the list. Have you seen any of the improvements they made?

Anonymous said...

You are so right about the challenge of reporting with Moodle! I am working on a project and can't seem to find a way to take care of something we need to be able to report on. I'm wondering if you or anyone who might read this post has an answer.

We are wanting to report on a specific test taken via Moodle that is offered every month to different people. We are hoping to be able to run a report that shows the number of incorrect answers for each test question overall...that is, for everyone who has taken the test. Want to export into Excel.

Has anyone done something like this and if yes, how did you do it? I can't seem to find a way in Moodle and it is frustrating.

Thanks!

Joe Deegan said...

Is it a moodle quiz that you need to report the details on? If so, there is a plugin I use that I think may do what you are looking for. This plugin allows you to export a report to excel showing every answer for every user. I've only used it once or twice but it came in handy when I needed it.

http://docs.moodle.org/en/Detailed_responses_report_plugin

Luis de Vasconcelos said...

If you know anything about SQL then you could write your own SQL queries to retrieve the information you need directly from your Moodle database. This allows you to create any type of report you want. The trick, of course, is to find the information in the Moodle database and then write the right sql query to retrieve that information the way you want it.

There are two great Moodle plugins for this kind of customized reporting:

The Configurable Reports Block by Juan Leyva - http://docs.moodle.org/en/blocks/configurable_reports/

And the Custom SQL Queries Plugin by Tim Hunt - http://docs.moodle.org/en/Custom_SQL_queries_report

Joe Deegan said...

Hi Luis,
Thanks for posting those plugins. I read through but need to do some more researching and testing to figure these plugins out. I'm not very good with sql so I may need to spend a little more time researching. But this sounds like something very useful if I can figure it out. Thanks again.

Joe Deegan said...

Luis,
I've been testing these plugins out and they might be what I am looking for but due to my limited knowledge of SQL I'm not sure. Do you know if I could use these plugins to create a site wide grades report. I'm hoping for something that will show grades for all users and all courses. I currently have to go into each course site to get this information and it would save me a lot of trouble if I had a site wide overall report. It sounds like this may be possible with a little knowledge of SQL and your plugins.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if the discussions in this blog will be continued. If so the announcement of Remote-Learner to launch ELIS as OSS plug-in to MOODLE may help to solve all the problems discussed above.

Pl. take a look at http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?d=13&rid=4894

Would be great, if somebody could already report here on experiences with installing the system.

Joe Deegan said...

Hello Anonymous,
Yes, I heard ELIS is now available as a plugin. I haven't had the time to test it out yet but would love to hear your take if you have the time to test it out. I'll most likely have that on my to do list.