Assembling the heterogeneous elements for (digital) learning

BIM – Feed Aggregation Management and Marking

Current status of BIM 2

Updated 12 May, 2013: BIM for Moodle 2.x is now available via Moodle CONTRIB (i.e. the plugins database). There’s even a (slowly evolving) BIM page in Moodle docs now.

What is BIM?

BIM is an activity module for Moodle that provides the functionality required to allow:

  • Students to register feeds.
    Be they RSS, ATOM etc and from whatever source – usually a public blog.
  • Students to use that feed to respond to questions set by teaching staff or to simply just blog.
  • Teaching staff to track progress and, if so desired, mark and comment on student contributions.
  • Coordinating staff to track and moderate marking by other staff.
  • “Import” the marking into the Moodle gradebook.

See this post for an explanation of the differences between BIM and Moodle’s blog services.

There is a video of a presentation that gives an overview of BIM, including showing how it works for staff and students.

Earlier versions of BIM have been used mostly to manage individual student reflective blogs as described in (Jones and Luck, 2009; Reaburn, Muldoon and Bookallil, 2009).

The ELI Guide to Blogging talks about BAM, an early version of BIM.

Current status – BIM 1.0 (old)

The most recent version of BIM is always available from here. Look for the “download source” button. The same site also has a place for you to report issues

BIM is currently being used in courses at CQUniversity and the University of Canberra.

Related work

There is a range of related work going on. Some of it includes:

  • The idea of a loosely-coupled gradebook from Jon Mott;
    A quote from here that illustrates the connection

    institutions should do what they do best (manage student data, facilitate secure communication between teachers and learners) while leveraging third-party, cloud-based applications for such things as personal publishing and collaboration.

  • EduFeedr – “EduFeedr is an educationally enhanced feed reader for blog-based courses. The project is currently in the design phase. This website contains information about the design and development of EduFeedr. “
  • The idea of a PLE as an alternative for e-portfolios as suggested here and here.
  • The idea of the LMS moving away from a single, integrated system providing all functionality towards a platform that enables integration of a broad array of services. The LMS becomes a LMP.
  • The major problem BIM tries to solve is the workload associated with managing, integrating, marking and sharing individual feeds. Another approach used by Rourke and Coleman (2009), was to restrict students to the use of Blogger and use its management dashboard.
  • Moodle 2.0 will allow people to import external blogs which is somewhat similar. However, BIM provides a range of functionality associated with managing and marking that this doesn’t provide. Based on feedback from various folk, there is still a demand for BIM in Moodle 2.x
  • Stephen Downes’ work around gRSShoper inspired/informed this approach.

History of BIM

  • Early 2006 The Blog Aggregation Management (BAM) project commenced with an initial experiment.
  • 2006 The experiment was written up in the ELI Guide to Blogging and said

    One of the most compelling aspects of the project was the simple way it married Web 2.0 applications with institutional systems. This approach has the potential to give institutional teaching and learning systems greater efficacy and agility by making use of the many free or inexpensive—but useful—tools like blogs proliferating on the Internet and to liberate institutional computing staff and resources for other efforts.

  • 2006 through 2009. BAM use at CQUniversity includes:
    • In 26 different course offerings of 7 different courses.
    • By 2050+ students.
    • And 16000+ blog posts.
  • 2009. Choice by CQUni to move to Moodle sparks the design of BIM – BAM into Moodle.

Some old presentations

This first presentation was given in early 2006 and outlines some of the early thoughts, rationale and design decisions behind BAM’s initial use. Important: use the controller at the bottom to start the video at 3 minutes 50 seconds into the video. The early part shows some set up of the on-campus presentation.

This one took place about half way through the term in which BAM was used for the first time. About 3/4 months after the above presentation. Important: use the controller at the bottom to start the video at 3 minutes 30 seconds into the video. The early part shows some set up of the on-campus presentation.


Jones, D. and J. Luck (2009). Blog Aggregation Management: Reducing the Aggravation of Managing Student Blogging. World Conference on Education Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2009, AACE: 398-406.

Reaburn, P., N. Muldoon, et al. (2009). Blended spaces, work based learning and constructive alignment: Impacts on student engagement. Same places, different spaces. Proceedings ascilite Auckland 2009. Auckland: 820-831.

Rourke, A. J. and K. Coleman (2009). An emancipating space: Reflective and collaborative blogging. Same places, different spaces. Proceedings ascilite Auckland 2009: 888-897.


  1. Hi David, I’ve been using BIM for the past year at the University of Canberra and it has saved me hours and hours of work. With the Moodle 2 upgrade, it is currently unavailable. Have you been able to get BIM working in M2? I cannot go back to marking Word documents ever again, but without BIM blogs become terribly difficult to manage…

    • G’day Michael,

      I’ve made a couple of starts on BIM for Moodle 2.0. The latest has been interrupted by starting a new job and moving town. We’re moved and I start the job this Friday. It’s an academic job within the Faculty of Education and I am planning that BIM will become a priority. Until I get a better handle on the new job I can’t give any certain predictions, but I’m hoping it should be well and truly done by the middle of this year.

      Once it’s done, I’m keen to hear more about how you’ve used BIM.


  2. Thanks David, looking forward to it. Moodle is hopeless if it doesn’t have BIM 😉 Cheers, Michael.

  3. Hello, David. I was so excited to find out about the BIM plug-in for Moodle. I installed the alpha version of it to my Moodle 2.2. But when I try to add a BIM activity, I get the message “Coding error detected, it must be fixed by a programmer: MFORMS: Coding error, text formats are handled only by new editor element.” I understand that this is the earliest version of BIM 2, but shouldn’t it work? And do you plan on continuing the development of the plugin?

    • G’day Tatiana, I definitely have plans to complete BIM. I’m hoping to be able to use it in my own teaching next year. This means getting something complete before the end of this year.

      I can confirm that BIM is working on my version of Moodle 2.x. Your problem may mean that what I’ve committed to github is not 100% up to date. Sorry, but with work tasks I have at the moment, I may not have time to look at this for a couple of weeks.


    • G’day Tatiana,

      I’ve just re-started my work on BIM. As part of that I downloaded a fresh version of Moodle 2.4 and grabbed a fresh version of BIM from github. It appears to be mostly working.

      The process and evidence can be seen in this blog post

      Wondering if this is still a problem for you? If so, how did you get the code for BIM? Wondering if that may be the source of the problem.


  4. Thank you for the quick response. I think that BIM is a great product for Moodle and I’m looking forward to its release))) I’ll check your blog for the updates. Thank you one more time.

  5. Hello again! David, I installed BIM2 on my Moodle 2.3. The installation was successful and I even managed to create a BIM activity. There is only one problem — When I go to Mark posts and click on a post, the only thing that is shown on the screen is the Changing post allocation headline. The rest of the screen is empty.
    Can you please tell me what the problem might be?

    • G’day Tatiana, Glad you’ve been able to make some progress with BIM. I haven’t seen/heard of the problem you’ve described, but later today I will explore this a bit more and let you know.

      Email might be a better medium for talking about this, if you agree, please send me an email (my email address is listed on the about page).


    • G’day Tatiana, I’ve attempted to re-create your problem, but have failed. It’s all working for me. I believe this may be because I haven’t done exactly what you did. I have recorded my process in this blog post.

      I wonder if you can see anything in this that is different from what you did? I suspect that my process was different from what you did, hence why I can’t re-create your problem.


  6. Hi David, I just watched your video regarding BIM and how it works. Are there any plans to include tracking comments as well as posts? I imagine this would be a difficult thing to do outside of a network unless it’s possible to track something like that using OpenID or something similar?

    • G’day Ollie, Comments have been something that I’ve thought about from time to time, but never really implemented. Two main reasons. First, I’ve never really needed for my own teaching. Second, the lack of any standard mechanism between blog platforms for handling comments. Combined these two reasons means that the cost/benefit value hasn’t been there. If either of these changed, however, it might be something to look at.

      How were you thinking of using comments? A use case from someone else might help change the calculation.

      Actually, just thinking about this problem. There is a kludge you might be able to implement based on the assumption that (at least) WordPress implements a feed for comments. You could set up two BIM activities in a course. One for posts and one for comments. The limitations of this approach would included

      1. Students would have to register twice – once for posts and once for comments.
      2. Students would have to know how to find the feed for comments.

        BIM (should) auto-detect post feeds, but won’t do comments.

      3. The two data streams would be in separate activities.


  7. Yeah that’s how I thought it would need to be implemented. We have a multisite WordPress set up, so in that case we could hopefully organise comments across the network according to author. Some of our academic staff use commenting as a form of assessment inline with connectivism. So they see comments as crucial to learning. One of the issues we face is tracking a student’s comments across the network. We can do this within WordPress itself using the stream plugin ( However, there is no way of porting that information into Moodle for convenor ease – none that we have tried to develop anyway. I’m sure it could be done with a hack of some description.

    • BIM will mirror any feed (RSS/ATOM). If WordPress/stream produce a feed per student, then you could register that in BIM for each student (or the students could do it, if they knew the URL).

  8. Hi David, are you planning on more development of the BIM plugin? We are looking at it at Macquarie and have discovered it is not compatible with our version of Moodle.

    • G’day Ollie, I use BIM in most of my courses, so there will be more development. It tends to proceed on a needs-driven basis. It’s currently working on USQ, which I think is on version 2.8. Which version is causing problems? David.

  9. I think we are on 2.7.9 at MQ. What we are trying to do is set up a bit of an ecosystem that feeds student blogs into Moodle using a university local instalment of WPMU. So far, we have been able to integrate Moodle with the WPMU site via LTi. This means when a staff member adds the blog as an activity, students can click on it and have their own blog created and set up ready for them to go without them having to register anything at all (except categories and minor things). What we are looking at next is creating a walled garden for the WPMU site that allows feeds to come back into Moodle, perhaps by using BIM. Ideally we’d like to automate the process as much as possible. Have you made any plans similar to this?

    • Is there any indication of the error/problem with BIM not working on 2.7.9? As far as I know it should work, but if I know what the problem is I should be able to explore and fix. I am currently running BIM on 2.9 and it appears to be working fine for me.

      I’ve never done the walled garden thing. It’s come up from time to time from others (typically in professional courses where sharing reflections in a public space is problematic), but it’s never been something BIM has been used for (to my knowledge).

      The main problem is that BIM relies on standard (RSS/Atom) feeds, and as far as I know there’s no standard way to limit access to feeds. It’s either open, or not.

      Technically BIM relies on Simplepie to retrieve and parse the feeds. Simplepie is part of a standard Moodle install. If by walled garden you meant some form of password protection on the feeds, then it is Simplepie that would need to be changed/re-configured. Not sure if it offers any support for this.

      I suppose another approach might be to go from the other end. You control the WPMU site. Meaning you might be able to configure the server (WordPress or perhaps Apache/http server) to only access requests for feeds from certain IP addresses (i.e. your Moodle server). Though this probably has other implications.

      Sorry, beyond my immediate needs so haven’t explored that far.

78 Pingbacks

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