20 years with Moodle

Here’s my review of 20 years of voluntary participation in the Moodle user community.

This is the translated version of this article in French.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of my voluntary participation in the Moodle community. I created my user account on the moodle.org site on August 23, 2003.

I had already been using Moodle for a few months for my courses at Collège Sainte-Croix, but it was exactly 20 years ago that I started to get really involved in the Moodle user community, and in particular its French-speaking community.

Here’s a look back at the last 20 years in the French-speaking Moodle community.

Forums on moodle.org

The moodle.org site was launched on 20 August 20021. At that time, there was just one forum, multilingual —i.e. in English— with no separation into different language communities.

It can’t be said that contributions in French were overwhelming: in 2002, only 2 people took part in the French-speaking community, and 6 people in 2003! As one participant put it:

On peut pas vraiment dire qu’on se marche sur les pieds…2

But things really got going in September 2003, and assistance between members of the community really started to work well. According to another participant:

Je crois que nous progressons et le forum francophone s’anime.3

The “Moodle en français” course was created shortly afterwards, enabling the French-speaking community to emerge. It was at this point that I was given responsibility for facilitating it. Since 2006, a few experienced and passionate moodlers4 have been helping me to run this community effectively, in their spare time.

Today, almost 1,500 people are registered for these discussions, and the 7,000 or so messages posted each year testify to the vitality of the community of Moodle users, the quality of the discussions and the constructive atmosphere that prevails.

Moodle translation into French

On September 3rd 2002, Martin Dougiamas, the creator of Moodle, added to Moodle the first partial translation of Moodle into French5, proposed by Sébastien Namèche, and which included 483 character strings. The first strings for Canadian French were added on May 29, 2003, by Jean-François Nadeau, from Quebec.

In September 2003, I sent Martin my first translations for Moodle, which were immediately integrated. Martin immediately trusted me and authorised me to integrate the translations into Moodle’s source code. When I asked him in 2005 why he trusted me, he replied: “You must have done something special!”

Since then, over 1,500 strings have been added to Moodle every year, most of which I’ve translated. With version 4.2 of Moodle, we now have 31185 strings6!

And that’s without counting the contribution of the many other people7 who participate by pointing out typos and errors, suggesting improvements and, above all, proposing translations for Moodle’s third-party plugins. Including these, Moodle’s French translation contains over 90,000 strings.

Moodle documentation in French

In the early years, the Moodle documentation was included in the software itself. A few years later, a wiki was set up to publish this documentation, with the advantage that anyone could (and still can) modify its content and take part in its translation.

Maintaining this documentation is one of the tasks I’ve also taken to heart. Fortunately, I was soon able to count on the assistance of Séverin Terrier and a few other motivated people, because the work is enormous: since 2003, 4 different versions of the documentation have been created, and each of them contains more than 1,000 pages. Today, the French documentation for the current version of Moodle contains 1523 pages8.

French MoodleMoots

In 2005, the French-speaking community met for the first time at ENST Bretagne in Brest for its first MoodleMoot, in the presence of Martin Dougiamas.

Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of helping to organise the 18 editions of the French MoodleMoot and of giving the keynote address about the French-speaking community, as well as other talks. In 2013, with a few outstanding members of the community, I founded the association MoodleMoot.fr to oversee the organisation of these conferences with their very special spirit.


This review would not be complete without a mention of MoodleBox, my favourite pet project9. It’s not without pride that I see this project being used all over the world, often to make online courses available to the most disadvantaged: due to lack of funding, lack of infrastructure, but also following natural disasters or war.

If you feel like it, make a donation to support this project.

In conclusion

It’s been a wonderful 20-year journey, a lot of time invested, not for money, but to improve a tool that I believe in, for the benefit of the students and teachers who use it. Because Moodle cleverly opens up a wide range of possibilities for enriching our teaching and promoting learning, without constraining us.

And, of course, the determination to keep going!

  1. The very first version of Moodle was published on November 22, 2001. This was a development version, numbered Moodle 0.1. Thanks to its free sotfware licence, it can still be downloaded↩︎

  2. “You can’t really say that we’re stepping on each other’s toes…”, https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=61#p2656↩︎

  3. “I think we’re making progress and the French-speaking forum is coming alive.”, https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=2985#p13308↩︎

  4. These moodlers are Séverin Terrier, Jérôme Demiaux, Patrick Lemaire and Luiggi Sansonetti; thank you to them. ↩︎

  5. https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=61↩︎

  6. https://download.moodle.org/langpack/4.2/↩︎

  7. View the list here: https://lang.moodle.org/local/amos/credits.php#credits-language-fr↩︎

  8. https://docs.moodle.org/4x/fr/Spécial:Statistiques↩︎

  9. A project, activity or goal pursued as a personal favorite. ↩︎