QMplus has many core tools and activities that come as standard (such as the assignment, quizzes and forum activities). However there are also several tools that have been created by developers (external third parties), which can be ‘plugged into’ the standard QMplus environment (known as plugins). These plugins offer additional functionality and can provide richer teaching and learning opportunities. However, any limitations of plugins cannot be fixed by staff at QMUL, as these will need to be updated by the external third party who has developed the plugin. Should a problem exist with the plugin that causes issues for the QMplus site, then the plugin may be removed from QMplus if the problem is not resolved.
Types of Plugins
There are different types of plugins available in QMplus:
- Core Plugins – These are plugins which come ‘out of the box’, that is, standard with a Moodle installation
- QMUL Plugins – These have been developed in-house
- 3rd Party Plugins – These have been developed by an external body – this could be a renowned organisation (E.g. Echo360 or Turnitin) or an individual developer or smaller company.
Before adopting (or developing) a plugin for QMplus, it is important that the University fully evaluates and tests its suitability, security and reliability. This is done through a collaboration between the TELT and other teams in IT Services and requires not only evaluating the plugin itself, but also testing its impact on the QMplus environment (e.g. does it interfere with other plugins or a previous version of the same plugin that is being used; will it impact performance or data security), as well as we will need to understand the implications in supporting the installation of the plugin in its current format and through future upgrades.
Although the plugin may provide a wealth of benefits for particular users of the system, it will not be installed until a full evaulation has been carried out. Also, if the plugin is installed, and later there are issues uncovered (such as during an upgrade) then the plugin will need to re-evaluated, and possibly removed from QMplus.
We will also perform regular reviews of plugins and will remove any which are not being used.
Timeframe for Plugin Installations
Once approved, plugins can be scheduled to be made available during one of our scheduled at risk periods. Currently these are between 9 and 11pm on Tuesdays.
Requesting a Plugin (or development)
Requests for plugins or custom development work should be made as follows:
- Users can raise a ticket on Helpdesk, which will get routed to a member of the TELT or an email can be sent to email@example.com
- Requests may come through a user forum (such as HSS, S&E or FMD E-Learning Users groups or the E-Learning Steering Group).
A member of the TELT will normally meet with you to gain more information and discuss your requirements. At this meeting, it is your responsibility to convince us as to the usefulness of this plugin, especially for the QMplus user base generally. A performa outlining some initial questions will be given/sent to the user to complete so that the TELT can make a more informed evaluation (sample questions below).
We will be looking for certain criteria when evaluating a plugin for development or installation. These include:
The TELT will also take into account the usefulness of the plugin – in terms of how widely the plugin can be used, both within the QMUL community as well as externally in the Moodle community.
Evaluation of the Plugin
The next stage is to evaluate and determine whether it is possible to implement for the next scheduled QMplus release or whether it can be developed by a QMUL developer if it does not already exist as a plugin.
Evaluation of existing plugins includes:
- Existing Documentation – is this a current plugin that has been updated for our version of Moodle?
- Existing tools – is there anything that can do what this plugin does that already exists in QMplus
- Support – Is support provided by a reputable organisation (such as Turnitin or Echo360) Who will support this plugin going forward? Is the ELU support team expected to take on support of this plugin or will the department be able to manage?
- Any reviews? Are there any existing (positive or negative) reviews about this plugin.
- Is it easy to use? Will Teachers need to be trained? Will Students?
- Will internal guides need to be produced?
- What would happen in future if it isn’t upgraded?
ITS will additionally evaluate
- Is it easy to install
- Is their documentation available on installation and troubleshooting
- Is it available via GIThub?
- Are there configuration issues
- Will it impact performance of QMplus (for instance does it rely on heavy data retrieval or usage)
- Will it impact storage?
- Will it affect other tools or plugins?
- Is there a roadmap for updates/improvements for future versions of Moodle?
Checklist of considerations:
Things to consider as the requester
- What are the Teaching and Learning benefits?
- What is the purpose of the plugin/development?
- Have you considered other features which already exist in QMplus?
- Has a plugin already been developed?
- Is there documentation for developers, for end-users? If so, please provide this or a link to it. Will documentation need to be created – Who will create it?
- Which system is this for – Mahara/Moodle?
- Business use – is it administrative? Who will be responsible for administering it, if needed (for example, will accounts need to be created for other users to use it, can it be deployed college-wide? Will other staff/students want to use it – and who will support them?)
- Who will use it? – can all staff can use it or will it need to be restricted to only certain faculties/schools?
Other Useful Information
This page covers the policy/guidance around requesting a plugin or development for QMplus. You might be interested in viewing existing QMplus plugins or reading through existing requests for plugins and development: