Easy file management for Moodle

Drag and drop - easy file management for Moodle

[pulledquote]If I was given a penny every time a teacher tells me how frustrated they are with the ‘out-of-the-box’ Moodle 2 file management system, I would be quite a few dollars better off. Davo Smith came up with a simple and elegant solution, the drag’n’drop upload block.[/pulledquote]

What it is

It basically does what it says on the tin; you drag files from your desktop (or from any other folder for that matter) and you drop it onto Moodle. You can see it magically upload onto Moodle! Yes, you read right: files, with an s. You can upload multiple files with this, and I’m yet to reach some sort of limit with this system. You can now add all of your resources to your Moodle courses in minutes! Apologies for the use of exclamation marks, but this is really exciting. I have to confess, this is my all-time favourite Moodle plugin.

The good

Multiple file upload

Repeating myself here, but for the impatients who didn’t read the ‘What it is’ section, you can now upload multiple files to your Moodle courses. You can upload any filetype that can be handled by Moodle. 

Upload progress bar

Each file that you upload comes with its very own upload bar. You don’t even get that when using the Moodle file picker. 

Links

You can also drag’n’drop links to websites onto your Moodle page, it will create it for you (after you have named it using the pop up box provided). 

Webpages

This one is just the icing on the cake. You can take any bunch of text, drag it to your page, drop it and Moodle will automagically create a webpage for you. Cherry on the icing, it even plays nicely with text imported from a MS Word document (only some minor loss of fidelity – tables and such work).

Compatibility

This block is available for Moodle 1.9 all the way to 2.2 (the most current at the time of writing). That in itself is commendable.

 

The could be improved

Browser support

Actually this one couldn’t be improved. The block only works with Firefox or Google Chrome. It might work in future versions of Internet Explorer but it all depends on how quickly Microsoft  decides to implement the necessary HTML5 technology. The plugin will show a message if your browser is not compatible should you try using IE or Safari. 

Duplicates

Unless I missed something in the settings, there is nothing preventing you from installing the block multiple times in a course. That results in files being uploaded multiple times as well e.g. two blocks on a course, each file would be uploaded twice.

Popup or embed

There is a site-wide setting to choose what your files should do by default (auto, embed, popup, etc.) but as far as I know this is not a block setting. Problem with this site-wide setting is that it is applied for every user; it would be great if we had it at user level, that’s nit picking though.

Licensing

There is no way to manage licensing using this plugin. To be fair, this plugin makes your life so much easier that it shouldn’t bother you too much. There is always a way to ask your Moodle admin to change the default licensing of all newly uploaded files. There are talks about Moodle 2.3 allowing for a more granular control over licensing, stay tuned.

No folders

This might be technically impossible, I don’t know but I always want more. Drag’n’drop folders is what I want for my birthday.

 

Tips on usage 

File names

Make sure you name your files correctly before uploading them – it’s much easier to rename a bunch of files using Windows Explorer or Mac OS Finder than doing it in Moodle. 

Block availability

Make this block available throughout the site as an admin. In Moodle 1.9, make the block a ‘sticky block’ and in Moodle 2.x, make the block available on all main course pages. This will help improve user experience throughout the site and avoid confusion (you would be surprised as to how quickly you get used to drag’n’dropping files onto Moodle)

Break the old habits

We are used to thinking of file management system as folders, sub-folders and files. I introduce this to staff in a completely different manner that allows me to forego the Moodle 2 file management system altogether. All I say is the following: Your course is now your main folder e.g. ICT, Year 8; your topics are now your sub-folders e.g. Word processing, and everything under labels are sub-sub folders e.g. word processing / macros. This has worked well for me so far.

Get it

Go, get it now.

4 comments

  1. Thanks for the great review (and no, folders are not technically possible – I even double-checked the source code for Google Chrome to make sure).

    If you liked this, then you might be interested to know that drag and drop onto settings forms is already in Moodle 2.3 (wherever you see a filemanager / filepicker you can drag and drop onto it) and I’m hoping that http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-22504 might get there as well (course drag and drop without installing a separate block + a few extra enhancements).

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