Developer's Notes

This document houses developer-level information for this website. You should only be seeing this document if you are logged in as an administrator. Please update this page as you make modifications or add new content to the site, so that all developers can have the biggest possible picture as he/she supports it.

History

This site has a pedigree that starts in other Moodle-based sites for another organization, a history worth mentioning here:

In late 2012 and early 2013, volunteer OneHundredFold (OHF) staff member Ken Sladaritz undertook the development of a Moodle-based set of courses in English for Birmingham Theological Seminary (BTS). Aimed at an English-speaking audience outside the USA, this program offers students a no-fee way to pursue an introductory level of seminary training and ultimately acquire a Certificate of Christian Ministry (CCM). The CCM program consists of 14 courses, based heavily on materials created and freely provided by Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM). Each course includes video, audio and transcript lesson content, readings, and quizzes.

At the time the original BTS CCM site was built, the priority was minimal adequate functionality and the fastest development path. Because Moodle is such a large platform with a high learning curve, and because the allotted development time frame was so short, Mr. Sladaritz implemented two custom Moodle plugins for this site, called LMP and MMP. These plugins performed functions BTS needed but which Moodle did not offer, as well functionality Moodle did offer but whose developmental learning curve simply exceeded the available project time. Consequently, these designs emphasized the fastest development path over future development considerations. Importantly, the LMP codebase took over and unified the creation and rendering of lesson content, done in ways that were based on customized themes and also stepped outside Moodle's innate ability to export and import lesson content. These early decisions quickly and very nicely accomplished the immediate project goals.

That site and these plugins were extended over time. In late 2013 and 2014, when BTS needed a Spanish version of their CCM site, Mr. Sladaritz simply copied and tweaked the codebase of the original plugins and expeditiously completed the structure of the second site. The entire content was replaced with Spanish versions of everything, most of the that work done by Richard Ramsey of IIIM.

At some point thereafter, Mr. Sladaritz had to step away from his OHF involvement. Later, Erik Mugele added functionality to the MMP plugin and harmonized the LMP/MMP codebases between the English and Spanish versions of the BTS CCM sites. 

The original ps78teachers.org site required both the entire BTS English CCM content but also new courses related to a Masters degree to be offered to non-western Christian teachers. When Mr. Mugele began the ps78teachers.org project, the straightest path to completion was to copy the entire English BTS CCM site and then tweak the theme, logos and content, after which the additional courses would be created by hand from wholly-new material supplied by Dr. Carla Stevens. Neil Moree contributed to PS78 theming as well as new static-content pages added via custom PHP modules (rather than via the normal Moodle mechanism, the learning curve of which Mr. Moree had no time to climb).

In mid-2016, Ken Wienecke joined Mr. Mugele supporting OHF-developed Moodle sites. Over time, as Mr. Mugele's workload expanded, Mr. Wienecke increasingly took over full support of these sites as well as most of the OHF development of specialized Moodle functionality. Mr. Wienecke has made headway towards turning LMP, MMP and several new plugins into more generalized boxes of functionality, but they are still dependent upon the "old" Moodle versions (v2.9) upon which these sites were built.

Meanwhile, Moodle has evolved. Current versions of Moodle (at this writing, v3.3.1) are much more mobile-friendly (a hugely important thing) than the Moodle of either the current BTS or PS78 sites. Unfortunately, the LMP/MMP plugins cannot work with later Moodle versions, and this blocks these sites from being upgraded. The need for mobile-friendliness (ie, Moodle v3.3) and OHF's now-limited support for PS78 requires that the ps78teachers.org site be moved into a virgin Moodle v3.3 framework without depending on MMP and LMP. This makes for an unusual challenge to OHF's Moodle-development staff, and the site hosting this page is the result of this effort.

Media Outline Engine (MOE) Details

LMP is the OHF plugin which renders lesson content that is structured the way the IIIM course materials are organized. This structure is essentially a way of dividing a single lengthy lesson (in a multi-lesson course layout) into "segments" which are organized around a lesson's topical outline. Each lesson segment consists of videos, audios and transcripts, so a single lesson often offers a small blizzard of files which students need. Moodle's native "activity" and "resource" capabilities would handle this kind of structure in a way that is awkward for student users, particularly those using small-screen mobile devices. While LMP does provide a nice UI for all of the content in a lesson, it also has a number of weaknesses:

  • LMP's design thwarts Moodle's native ability to transfer complete courses from one site into another, a serious developmental hindrance.
  • LMP requires that all external media content for all lessons in all courses be held on a single server.
  • LMP only understands video, audio and textual (only) transcripts. Other kinds of files (PDF, etc) needed in a lesson-segment cannot be accommodated.
  • The LMP UI is not mobile-friendly.
  • LMP depends on a specifically-modified version of the "anomaly" Moodle theme which itself is not compatible with later versions of Moodle, thus preventing upgrades.

The MOE mechanism was created to replace the outline-related functions of LMP and its several limitations. MOE consists of Javascript modules which render HTML-encoded representations of the media-file metadata previously hosted within the LMP plugin.

The time constraints of developing MOE result in the following path:

  1. MOE 

MOE system layout

Site Details

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Front Page Details

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Future Development

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Last modified: Tuesday, 22 August 2017, 3:24 PM