In an effort to provide integrated access to its Live@edu services, Microsoft Corp. has released a free plug-in for Moodle, an open-source software program for managing courses online.
The plug-in, available as a free download, gives users access to Live@edu services including eMail, calendar, instant messaging, and search, as well as shared workspaces and storage "lockers" in the cloud, directly within the Moodle environment, wrote Michael Golden, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s education products group, in a blog post.
Students go online through their Live@edu login and connect through the Moodle authentication system.
"Many educators and students around the world are relying on technology to enhance their educational opportunities," he said. "This free download…will help address needs of interoperability and also the flexibility of using technology choices in education."
Using Moodle, teachers can create online learning web sites for their classes.
Typical Moodle sites include class resources, homework assignments, and quizzes, Golden said. Live@edu gives schools access to a suite of services, including Outlook Live for eMail, Office Live Workspace to share documents and collaborate with others, Windows Live Messenger for instant messaging, and Windows Live SkyDrive, which has 25 GB of online data storage space.
Moodle has more than 30 million registered users, and Microsoft has more than 9 million students who use Microsoft Live@edu.
"We’ve been very attentive to the market and understanding from many teachers and administrators around the globe how they’re using Moodle. Based on conversations with them and input and feedback, we actually believed that it was something we needed to bring to market," Golden said.
As well as working with teachers and administrators, Microsoft also worked with institutional information technology leaders, he added.
Microsoft recognizes that education suppliers, companies, associations, and organizations make contributions to the overall education system, making Microsoft able to integrate Live@edu into Moodle, Golden said. "So we’re excited to be issuing [the plug-in] on GPL v2."
GPL v2 licensing means that teachers and institutions can download the plug-in under a widely-used open source license agreement–the same licensing terms under which Moodle operates.
The new download gives students and educators one more tool to help bolster 21st century skills, which are essential to students as they move from higher education into the workplace.
"Live@edu works across the range of devices students already use, giving them ubiquitous access to their coursework and powerful communications and collaboration tools," Golden said.