Thursday, April 02, 2009

Moodle Google Integration... "MooGoogle"

We've made some really great progress on integrating a Moodle virtual learning network and a Google Apps for Education collaboration/communication network. Major, major props to my co-worker, Adam Contois, for engineering this on the software side of things. Adam is a model 21st century school IT professional who believes in the importance of providing free/open source collaboration tools that empower members of the learning community.

While we are just scratching the surface on what this might mean and look like for us here at Castilleja, we now know the following based upon the setup instructions over at Ben Wilkhoff's blog:

1. Accounts are created and managed in Moodle (or, you may use LDAP to manage your accounts). No need to re-create the accounts in the Google admin console.

2. When the user signs in to Moodle, they see a block with links to gmail, calendar, docs, etc. When they click a link, they're taken to a page where they have to enter a word verification code and accept the Google Terms of Service. After they accept, a Google Apps account is automatically created for them.

3. All authentication/sign-in happens via moodle. If a user attempts to go directly to Google Apps, they are re-directed to Moodle to authenticate. After signing in at Moodle, they are bumped over to Google Apps. While we like this, we also know that this could be a weakness. What happens if Moodle goes down? Or, in our case, Moodle sits on our network and we're concerned about network outages that would prevent users from getting to their Google mail, docs, etc. We're in the process of developing a redundancy so that if Moodle does bork out, the users would be able to sign in directly at the Google Apps page (chance are that the uptime with Google is going to be MUCH higher than anything a school organization can provide).

That is it for now...I just wanted to leave this reflection to share our progress to date. A screencast that shows this process will be posted later. Many thanks to Ben for sharing this on his blog.

Below is a wonderful "CommonCraft" inspired video that brings to life the power associated with an approach to instructional design that utilizes Google Apps for EDU, Moodle, blogs and wikis:


  1. Hi Matt
    We use both moodle and google apps so this kind of integration would be absolutely fantastic. In some cases students do find it confusing having to log into two different sites. Would be great to have it all in one place.

    But, also like the idea of being able to access google apps directly should the need arise!

    Great to see that this kind of development is taking place :-)

  2. Hi Patricia,

    Thanks for the comment. We're not so sure if we are going to implement the full integration on our production setup as we share the same concerns that you have. For example, what happens if moodle goes down? Chance are that the moodle network will go down more than google services...there is a way to allow folks to login at both places by IP address blocking, but we haven't explored that yet.

    Again, thanks for the comment and I'm glad that we are linked up on Twitter!!

    Matt Montagne
    Palo Alto, California

  3. Matt,

    I'm not sure if this is what you're working on/toward but thought I'd fire this question your way. We have grades 6 - 12 at our school and each teacher will have their own "Moodle page." I, for example, teach two courses (8th and 9th grade history). What we're trying to do is create a grade-level "assignment calendar" so that students in a particular grade can look at a calendar to see assignments specific to them as opposed to seeing a calendar filled with assignments for all grade levels. I like the idea of embedding a Google calendar in Moodle as Google calendars can be created for each grade level and then tailored to display a specific grade level in Moodle. However, the issue I have is a step before that. We have six teachers who teach 9th grade classes. As it is, in order for each teacher to update the 9th grade Google calendar, they would each have to export their Moodle calendar EVERY DAY and, to be honest, most teachers are not very tech-savvy and would have an issue with this, in addition to griping about having to do more work. What I'm looking for is some kind of plugin that would automatically sync a teacher's Moodle calendar with the Google calendar for their grade level. Any insight into this issue would be greatly appreciated.