As I stated in one of my previous posts, thanks to the nature of Moodle (What do I need to use Moodle?), we can extend its functionality to perform tasks that we can’t perform with the default plugins (or we can just simply improve certain aspects).
Whichever the case, we can achieve that by either installing a plugin from the Moodle directory, or by developing one ourselves. In the case of the latter, Moodle provides us with a great API and documentations so that we can try and code something that fits our needs, however, it takes quite a bit of knowledge in programming, patience and time to involve ourselves in this kind of process.
The easiest and most cost-effective option is to browse the Moodle plugin directory to try and find a plugin that does what we need it to, or that does something close enough, but beware, there is always the possibility that you don’t find what you need or, what usually happens to me, I find several pages of plugins with similar functionality.
Before deciding which one to install on your Moodle installation, make sure to keep the following points in mind:
· Check the date in which the most recent update was posted: Due to Moodle’s nature, there are several updates to its core several times a year, which means developers need to update their plugins so that they work on the latest version of Moodle. You can check this by either the date and/or the indicated Moodle version number the plugin is compatible with, usually it’s indicated on the description of the plugin.
Check validation: If you scroll down the page of the plugin description, there is always a message that says if the plugin is Moodle compatible or not. Make sure it is approved for installing.
Documentation in your language: It is always safer to have a plugin with documentation in a language you speak, because you can more easily troubleshoot and find solution If there is ever an issue with the plugin.
Read the comments: The beauty of this plugin directory, is that it’s a collaborative environment with the community, so if you scroll down the plugin description page, you can read comments from other users who have previously used the plugin and, based on their opinion, you can decide whether this plugin is safe and does what you need.
Finally, this is a recommendation that not only applies when you install a plugin, but make sure you have a backup of your Moodle installation (html files and database), if there comes a time when something unexpected happens, you can always rollback to a previous version of the installation, hoping you don’t lose too much data.
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