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: