Sometimes, life on the bleeding edge makes you bleed. For example, today: this is the first time I’m using Moodle with groups. Basically this is just a feature of the software that allows you to have one course and separate the users into different groups within the course so that they can’t see stuff from other groups. This makes perfect sense if, like me, you have three sections of a course and you’re giving them the all same assignments at the same time. No reason to have third period reading what second period wrote. The problem is that it’s broken and I found that out by subjecting students to a bunch of error messages this period. So for now I’ve turned off groups and I’ll have to figure out what to do about it tonight.
It’s really painful to run into a bug that I can see how to fix, and not be able to do anything about it. My ability to hack PHP or understand the database or whatever is going to have no bearing on the functionality of the code I’m using for the class, because it’s deployed on a server that I don’t control. And for most teachers, that’s the right thing. To me, it feels like being locked up. But thinking beyond myself, teachers really just need something that works. I don’t actually have time to hack server code during class to make things work. I fear that our classrooms are going to be sucked into the “perpetual beta” that plagues web applications. A bunch of other people have been writing about this recently, but I can’t recall at the moment who.