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It’s a hot topic alright but what is everyone banging on about? Moodle2 can be used out of the box without any repositories – you can still upload files from your computer. True, Moodle2 handles them in a different way and you no longer get the nice files area you used to get (unless you allow legacy files) but early reports suggest academics prefer this simplicity.
A really great White Paper by somerandomthoughts.com gives an in-depth account of the different use cases for repositories and Moodle2. Use cases is the key here – your institution must choose the right solution(s) for its needs. The key questions are around whether to link or copy and what that means for Moodle backups and audit activities.
“Repository” covers a wide range of things … YouTube is a repository, as is GoogleDocs, DropBox, Flickr and Picasa. These are things you may well use and wish to be able to link or copy files into Moodle. Repository can also mean some kind of institutional file store – such as Alfresco or Box.net. There are many more – the ones just mentioned are all supported by the standard Moodle2 installation. Either way you’ll need to consider carefully issues around authentication and licensing.
As we go forward with our strategy and start looking at Moodle2 we are beginning to formulate ideas on what repository options (if any) City adopts. One of the things I’d like to tackle is the tendency for academics to use Moodle as a personal file archive, keeping old course data, backup zips, student work from years gone by etc … all right there in the course file space. Sure, disk space is cheap but it’s just bad practice, rather like throwing the dirty dishes in the backyard instead of washing them up. Kind of.