Posted by L. Michael Golden 
Corporate Vice President, Education Products Group

As my colleagues and I talk to teachers, students and educational institutions about their use of information technology, we learn a lot about the applications with the greatest capacity to extend the abilities of teachers and schools to meet the needs of students in ways that are engaging, affordable, and personal.

One of these technologies is Moodle, a free, open-source, Web-based course management system that teachers use to create Web sites for their classes. Typical Moodle sites include class resources, homework assignments and quizzes. With nearly 30 million users in 207 countries, Moodle has clearly developed a loyal following among teachers and students.

At the same time, millions of teachers and students are also using live@edu, which provides collaboration and communication services to support their classroom work. By signing up for Live@edu, schools gain access to a comprehensive suite of services that includes Outlook Live for e-mail, Office Live Workspace for sharing documents and collaborating, Windows Live Messenger for instant messaging and Windows Live SkyDrive for 25 GB of online data storage space.  Live@edu works across the full range of computing devices that students already use, giving them ubiquitous access to their coursework as well as powerful communications and collaboration tools. 

This got us thinking: How can we integrate Live@edu services and Moodle applications, to make the learning and classroom experience even better?

Today, I am excited to announce the release of the Microsoft Live Services Plug-in for Moodle. This plug-in is a free download that provides integrated access to Live@edu services such as e-mail, calendar, instant messaging and search within the Moodle environment. This newly integrated experience is accessible via a single username and password.  We believe this experience will enable more teachers and students to quickly and easily access the Live@edu resources they already use to efficiently communicate, collaborate and learn.

In designing this solution, we listened closely to teachers and developed the features they wanted.  We also listened to education IT leaders and licensed the technology in a way that is consistent with the practices of the Moodle community – under the GPL v2 license. This means that teachers and education institutions can download the plug-in under a widely used, open -source license agreement -- and under the same terms that Moodle itself is licensed.

Microsoft is committed to helping provide tools and solutions to educators and students so that they reap the benefits of a world of heterogeneous technology. The Microsoft Live Services Plug-in for Moodle is one example of our collaborative approach to developing the best solutions for the education community in an effort to help teachers effectively personalize each student’s learning experience.

The Microsoft Live Services Plug-in for Moodle is the first in a growing collection of free, easy-to-deploy solutions – some completely turnkey, others requiring some level of customization –available onwww.educationlabs.com that showcase our latest work on new and exciting learning scenarios.  On this site, you can learn more about the plug-in and access the download today.  I also encourage you to read what Moodle creator, Martin Dougiamas, has to say about the Live Services Plug-in on his blog.  Lastly, watch this video demonstration on Moodle and see how Windows Live services are incorporated into the environment.