A virtual Moot

Various communities on the Internet tend to build up their own vocabulary, and perhaps it was inevitable that when groups of users of the Moodle virtual learning environment got together, these gatherings would be referred to as Moodle Moots.  Much as I’m typing this while sitting at a desk in London, I’m also attending on such gathering right now – but it’s a gathering with a difference, because it’s known as an iMoot and takes place entirely on the Internet.

The international nature of it raises some unusual issues, which the incredibly hard-working technical people in Australia, who are behind this, making it work.  I’ve just attended a really interesting session on creating presence in online courses: it’s mid-afternoon for me but the presenter, Stephan Schmidt (who is from Germany but has lived in Australia for 20 years) was in Adelaide and mentioned that it was late evening for him.  Knowing that Stephan’s went to Australia to work as a chef, it’s slightly unnerving to listen to another speaker in the following session talking about a cookbook – but it turns out he’s using the word in the sense favoured by software development people as a tool to help create online material rapidly.

iMoot action takes place more-or-less 24 hours a day, but the setup is clever enough that when you log in you can see a timetable with dates and times which are correct for your own time zone.  My family have pointed out that there’s something vaguely druidic about my disappearing onto the computer late at night to attend part of an occasion referred to as a moot.  In fact the feel is not that different from the experience of attending a conference that’s based in one’s home town – you go to conference talks on occasions but return to everyday life in between.

And like the best conferences, it has given me a lot to think about – particularly in understanding my own use of Moodle and the potential for combining it with other tools on the Internet.

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