Troy Patterson

Educator, Thinker, Consultant

Category: Moodle (Page 2 of 4)

The Top 25 Tools…You won’t believe #4

Below you will find a list of the top 50 tools that you can use in your classroom. You won’t believe how incredibly powerful number 4 is. Number 4 can completely change your classroom.

25 Moodle
24 Moodle
23 Moodle
22 Moodle
21 Moodle
20 Moodle
19 Moodle
18 Moodle
17 Moodle
16 Moodle
15 Moodle
14 Moodle
13 Moodle
12 Moodle
11 Moodle
10 Moodle
9 Moodle
8 Moodle
7 Moodle
6 Moodle
5 Moodle
4 Moodle
3 Moodle
2 Moodle
1 Moodle


Now, if this was a real Buzzfeed article, you would’ve had to click through lots of pages to see each tool. But here’s the thing, instead of playing around with 25 different tools, learn one that will truly help your students. Moodle can do exactly that. Moodle can help allow for specific, timely feedback. Moodle can allow students to time shift their learning. Teachers can provide students with experiences that students can review and reuse.

I certainly understand the fascination with new tools. I’ve sat through my share of 60 tools in 60 minutes presentations. I’ve played around with lots of different tools. But, it really comes down to the classroom. It comes down to the students. The students don’t need new tools to play around with. They need tools and experiences that will help them learn and grow. Moodle will do exactly that.

So take some time to invest in yourself and your students. Learn some Moodle today.

Moodle FlashCard Update

DB Ideas: Moodle FlashCards 2016-04-28 21-00-59

Moodle FlashCards are wonderfully useful. In doing some additional work, it became clear that it is preferential for the FlashCards to open in “Single view” mode. Indeed, I received a request with that particular feature. Essentially, doing so means that the FlashCards would open with the view of a single FlashCard. FlashCards are built off the Database activity within Moodle. By default, Database activities open in the List view.

So, how to change the default behavior in the Database activity to present a FlashCard straight away? I turned to the forums and William Lu came up with a terrific answer. He suggested that we move the actual FlashCard activity to an unseen Topic. For example, if you are displaying ten topics, move the activity to Topic 11. Then open the FlashCard activity and click on “Single view”. Now copy the URL. Then, go back to the section where you want the students to see the FlashCards. Create a new resource of the URL type. Paste in the URL that you copied from the FlashCard single view. A perfectly wonderful work around.

I’m lucky enough to know some other really smart people too. One of the worked up a couple of adjustments to the Templates. There are two Templates that you need to adjust.

First of all, you need to create a class to call. Copy and paste the code below into the List view template:

Templates | List template (Click on Disable Editor button) | Repeated entry box paste this code (replacing what is currently in the box):

<table width=”100%” class=”fc-list-item”>

<tbody><tr class=””>

<td valign=”top” align=”left” width=”175px”>##delcheck## Question: <br>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; ##edit## ##more## ##delete## ##approve## ##disapprove##


<td valign=”top” align=”left”>[[Question]][[Picture]]</td>





(The real difference here is on line one with the addition of class=…)

Next, replace the Javascript template code with the code below:

document.addEventListener(“DOMContentLoaded”, function(e) {

var redirect =‘redirect=false’) == -1;

var fc_list_items = xpath(‘//*[@class=”fc-list-item”]’);

if (fc_list_items.length != 0 && redirect) {

location.href = location.href + ‘&mode=single’;


var view_list_btn = xpath(‘//*[@title=”View list”]’);

if (view_list_btn.length != 0) {

view_list_btn[0].href = view_list_btn[0].href + ‘&redirect=false’;


var fc_btn_container = document.getElementsByClassName(‘button-container’)[0];

/ Add a random card button /

var fc_paging = xpath(‘(//*[@class=”paging”])[1]/a[not(contains(@class,”previous”) or contains(@class, “next”))]’);

if (fc_paging.length != 0) {

var fc_rand_btn = document.createElement(‘div’);

fc_rand_btn.setAttribute(‘class’, ‘btn-togglecard’);

var fc_rand_btn_h1 = document.createElement(‘h1’);

fc_rand_btn_h1.innerHTML = ‘Random Card’;



fc_rand_btn.addEventListener(‘click’, function(e) {


var fc_rand = Math.floor((Math.random() * fc_paging.length));

location.href = fc_paging[fc_rand].href + ‘#region-main’;

return false;



/ Add a previous card button /

var fc_paging_prev = xpath(‘(//*[@class=”paging”]/a[@class=”previous”])[1]’);

if (fc_paging_prev.length != 0) {

var fc_prev_btn = document.createElement(‘div’);

fc_prev_btn.setAttribute(‘class’, ‘btn-togglecard’);

var fc_prev_btn_h1 = document.createElement(‘h1’);

fc_prev_btn_h1.innerHTML = ‘Previous Card’;



fc_prev_btn.addEventListener(‘click’, function(e) {


location.href = fc_paging_prev[0].href + ‘#region-main’;

return false;



/ Add a next card button /

var fc_paging_next = xpath(‘(//*[@class=”paging”]/a[@class=”next”])[1]’);

if (fc_paging_next.length != 0) {

var fc_next_btn = document.createElement(‘div’);

fc_next_btn.setAttribute(‘class’, ‘btn-togglecard’);

var fc_next_btn_h1 = document.createElement(‘h1’);

fc_next_btn_h1.innerHTML = ‘Next Card’;



fc_next_btn.addEventListener(‘click’, function(e) {


location.href = fc_paging_next[0].href + ‘#region-main’;

return false;




var xpath = function(path){

var result = [];

var nodesSnapshot = document.evaluate(path, document, null, XPathResult.ORDERED_NODE_SNAPSHOT_TYPE, null );

for ( var i=0 ; i < nodesSnapshot.snapshotLength; i++ ){

result.push( nodesSnapshot.snapshotItem(i) );


return result;


That’s it. Those two changes will make is so that when you open the FlashCard activity (or, more importantly, when your students open the activity), a single FlashCard will be presented. *Please note that it is expected that the List view will briefly show before switching to the Single view.

Either method will produce the same result.

Note that the “hide the activity” and link the URL is a great trick to have in your back pocket. This trick could be used in other places and certainly with other Database activities. I love the Moodle community and their willingness to share.

If you are using the FlashCard activity, I’d love to hear from you.

The link below is a FlashCard zip file. Download and have fun.


Creating a Teacher Resource Folder in Moodle

Sometimes, it is helpful to have a Teacher Resource Folder within Moodle. Generally, when I create a course that others will be using as well, I create a teacher resource folder for each topic. I don’t want the students to have access to this folder, so I remove their ability to see it. Before I learned this little trick, I would use the Show/Hide function. However, that runs the risk of the teacher inadvertently showing the folder. That’s why I love using permissions to accomplish a Teacher Resource Folder.

This is actually very easy to do, once you know how. Let’s start by turning editing on. Then simply create a folder and title it “Teacher Resources”. I also add a description of “Teacher Resources are available only to a teacher or non-editing teacher in this course.“, and click Display description on course page to on.

Teacher Resource Folder

*I usually leave the folder empty at this point. This is because I generally will duplicate this folder once it is set up. Once the folders are done, I add the appropriate resources into each one.

*If you have completion tracking turned on, make sure that you turn it off for this folder.

I scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Save and return to course.

So far, I’ve added a folder, but it can still be seen by anyone in the course. So I choose to Edit Settings for that Folder. This will seemingly take you right back where you were, but there is one significant difference, now you will have a Folder Administration Block.

Premissions Magic

In the Folder Administration block, you will have Permissions. For our purposes, this is magic. Click on the Permissions link. This will open a window where you can adjust permissions. We are only going to change one.

Permissions in Folder

Find the last plus sign on the line “View folder content” (under the Prohibited Heading). Click the +sign. This will result in a new window. Here, click the drop down to select “Student”.

Permissions in Folder: Teacher Resources 2016-03-20 16-12-31

Click “Prohibit” and you are done. What you’ve just done is to prohibit anyone in the student role from viewing this (and only this) folder.

Next, I duplicate the folder by clicking on Edit and then selecting Duplicate. The duplicated folder keeps the same permissions. I simply drag this duplicated folder to the next topic. I repeat this until each Topic has a Teacher Resource Folder. Then, I just add the appropriate material to each folder safe in the knowledge that the students won’t see this material. Generally, I use this folder to provide teaching tips, thoughts and additional resources for teachers. Sometimes, the folder will include full blown lesson plans. Sometimes it includes background material that is useful for the teacher.

Naturally, you can use this tip for hiding any resources that you don’t want students to see. This is best for resources that you will never want students to see though.


More on Moodle FlashCards

The Moodle FlashCard database preset file has been updated. There have been a couple of improvements/corrections. The preset now works with any theme. Additionally, the Random button and next/previous buttons work on sites without JQuery installed.

So, how does this work? It is simply a database activity. This makes it powerful and easy to learn. Oh, and if you are so inclined, highly customizable. Since it is a database preset, all you really have to do is drag and drop one file and you are set to go.

Remember, database activities are available to all students. When students complete an entry, the entire class can view that entry (approved by teacher if so desired). This makes it possible for students to contribute the knowledge to the class. (Of course, the teacher could create all the cards, but I really think that misses out on the power of student creation and learning.)

So, what does this look like for a teacher? Simply head over the Moodle Courses and Content page and download the Database Preset: FlashCards file. (You’ll need this in a few minutes, so just make sure that you know where you are saving it).

Use these instructions to quickly make FlashCards. Log into a Moodle course where you have editing rights.

  1. Click the green box to turn editing on.
  2. Click on Add activity or resource
  3. Select Database from the list.
  4. Click on Add button.
  5. Enter a name for the activity. For our purposes, we used FlashCards.
  6. Enter a description. This is a good place to put directions. For our purposes, we used “Add interesting words that you find for the class”.
  7. Click Save and Display.

Now we’ll select the preset. You should see a couple of text boxes. One will say that “There are no fields defined for this database.” The other will say, “Please create some below or choose a predefined set to get started”. The choose a predefined set will be a hyperlink. Click that hyperlink.

On the next screen, you will have the option to Export or Import. Locate the file that you saved and drag and drop it in the box under Import for zip file (or use the Choose file button and navigate to the saved file that you downloaded a couple of minutes earlier). Then click the Import button. A new screen will load. Just click “Continue”.

You are now ready to go. Click “Add entries” in the box OR use the Add entry tab (do NOT click the “Continue” tab – it is pointless).

You will have four boxes available. Frontside of Flashcard has Picture or Question. Backside has the same options. (Note that there is also an “Alternative text” box under the picture section. This is used for ADA compliance as screen readers use that information). Something MUST be entered into the “Answer” box (even a space will do).
*Note that there is currently a bug in the database activity for Moodle which prevents the “Save and add another” from actually working. This will need to be to fixed in Moodle with an update. This is not specific to this activity, but to all database activities in Moodle.

That’s it. Now turn your students loose and let them create FlashCards.

Alright. Maybe you want a little more control. Maybe you want to approve the FlashCards before the other students can see them. If that is the case, look to the Administration block. Click on Database activity administration to reveal all the options, then click on Edit settings. Now click on Entries to show those options. Under Approval required select “Yes”. Scroll to the bottom and click “Save” (either one will do)

There are even more options. If you’d like to know more, contact me.

Moodle FlashCards

I work with some truly wonderful people. Chris Kenniburg, Bob Harrison, Amy Gwizdz and Sean Williams are four of those terrific people. Together, they have developed a way to do FlashCards in Moodle.

Why FlashCards? Well, there are several sites that allow for FlashCard creation. However, these all take the user out of Moodle. FlashCards can be a terrific way to study vocabulary and other concepts. Even better, doing so in Moodle means that the students can create the FlashCards. (I’ve noticed that teachers tend to create flash cards for students to study. I believe that this is backward. Let the students create. That is where the learning really happens.)

So, Chris was the lynch pin in this project (he is after all, a particularly helpful moodler). He put together a few disparate pieces of information: a request for FlashCards, a post by the Moodle Fairy (AKA Mary Cooch) on postcards, and a post about CSS tips. Chris started running with the CSS. Unfortunately for us, the CSS “flips” the card on mouse roll over. This is not ideal for kids and flipcards. Fortunately, Chris was able to change the CSS so that the card “flips” on click, not roll over. We also wanted a way to select a random card instead of just moving along in a linear fashion. Enter Sean. Sean whips up some javascript so that we have a Random Card button that, well, displays a random entry instead of a sequentially ordered card. Perfect.

Off to the Tech Coaches for thoughts and feedback. Bob and Amy propose some changes. They provided several tweaks to make things look and work better. One of those suggestions was the addition of “Next” and “Previous” buttons. This allows the students to work through the cards in order.

There are many things about this that I really like. First off, it allows for the students to create the flashcards. I’m really, really big on the students creating the content. Since this is a database activity, the teacher could set it so that the students would have to create some FlashCards before they would see any of the already created ones. The teacher can also approve the FlashCards before the students see them. Since it is a database activity, the FlashCards are visible for the entire class (again, once approved if the teacher wants to review them first). The FlashCards can contain text, images and/or video. Text, images and videos are available for both the front and back sides of the cards.

We still have a few things to work out. We are working on Ratings. We’ve thought about tagging. However, we aren’t sure if tagging would just make things too complex and not really solve anything. Using FlashCards per unit, for example, might be better than creating a large FlashCard set that is tagged with the each unit.

The teacher ends up having significant control over the FlashCards. For example, we’ve removed the Card numbers from the side of the screen. The teacher can easily have those displayed if that is desired. (We removed them for several reasons. First of all, it clutters up the screen. Secondly, a number doesn’t really say what is on the card. Third, in large datasets, this could quickly be over) We certainly understand that the teacher may want those displayed. Thus, it is easy to remove by visiting the CSS template (where there are directions on adding the page (card) numbers back in).

What does this look like?

Here is the front of a card that just contains a picture.

6th Grade LA Part 1: FlashCards 2016-03-04 22-34-40

The buttons say:

  • Previous
  • Flip the Card
  • Random Card

Here is the back of another card:

6th Grade LA Part 1: FlashCards 2016-03-04 22-37-07

The buttons say:

  • Previous
  • Flip the Card
  • Random Card
  • Next Card

Notice that these are adaptive. Since the front card is the last one in list, there is no Next. However, the back card is one that isn’t the first or the last, so there is a Previous and Next available.

Here is an overview of FlashCards from Chris.

If you’d like a copy of the template, just contact me. I’ll share. (It has been submitted to Moodle, but hasn’t been approved yet.)

*UPDATE: See the Moodle Flashcard Update Post for, well, an update.

Here is an example file that you can install.

Reading the Test 2

In the last post, I shared an experience of teachers using Moodle to provide an audio version of a common assessment. Well, the results are in. The teachers are happy as the process was more efficient for them than reading the test to each student. They remarked that they were able to test several students at once (about 10). More importantly, they were able to assist students that needed help while the other students were listening to the test.

Of course, this led to a discussion of how we could make this even better. This test was a paper/pencil test with the questions in a fixed order. The answers were also in a fixed order. However, our teachers love the ability of Moodle to shuffle test questions and answers within those questions. So, is it possible to record the test question within the test question itself? Would there be a reason to limit audio to certain students? Or, would it be OK for all of the students to have access to the audio version of the test questions? What about shuffling the answers?

Moodle will allow for an audio version of the question to be included within the question itself. Answers work the same way. Thus, if a teacher wants to read the question and answers, Moodle will provide an avenue for this to happen. This means that teachers could shuffle the answers within the presentation of each question.

Thus, the question would work like this for a student. The student would see the question text and an audio player right under the question text. The answers would similarly have an audio player under the response. The screenshot below shows what this looks like.

Preview question: Can Moodle Read a Question? 2016-01-31 12-12-53 The students can click on the “play” button to hear each item. Since the teacher has recorded the question, it is a familiar voice. This is not speech recognition software at work. These are audio files recorded by the teacher.

The end result is fabulous news. Assessments can leverage the power of Moodle and provide accommodations to those students who need them (or all students). Providing an audio version of the assessment can meet the needs of a wide variety of students. The audio version can help students truly identify what they know. Additionally, some of the national tests are now including audio portions.

However, there are some negatives as well. There is not an audio recorded built in to Moodle. This increases the work flow since the audio is recorded in a different application and then linked. Also, some of the national tests don’t allow any accommodations. Thus, there will be the argument for “preparing” students.

Next up will be working on a system to allow students to read and record questions. I always liked to have the students write test questions. I would use some of the student created questions on the exam. Now, I’d like to think of a way to have the students write and record questions in a way that the teacher could accept the questions for use.

At the end of the day, this is a truly powerful opportunity. The ability to provide students with another means of accessing the questions to prove what they know is really cool. It helps students. It keeps the power of Moodle in place in terms of reporting, restrictions, reuse and more.

Reading the Test

Soon, our students will be taking some common assessments. The common assessment will be a paper/pencil test. (They’ll also be taking state-wide tests too, but that’s another story). Some of our students require special accommodations. One of the accommodations that is fairly frequent is to have the test read to the student. Traditionally, this has meant one of two situations:

  1. a parapro has been assigned to read the test to the student individually or
  2. a teacher (usually a special education teacher) has read the test to an individual or a small group of students.

Neither of these situations in particularly positive. The parapros work really hard. Sometimes though, they can be a little too helpful. Taking a highly trained special education teacher and having that specialists read the test, well, there are probably even better ways that their talents can be used. Either of these takes some of the control out of the classroom teachers hands. Either of those solutions come at a high cost as well.

I was approached with this situation. A teacher had planned on using Screencastify (which is a Chrome extension that allows for users to record video and audio) and recording the test. The plan was to put up a black screen and then read the test. The teacher was asking about how to share the recording.

We are also a Google Apps district, so the teacher knew that the recording could be shared via Google Drive. However, this lead to some problems. Once the link was shared, the teacher would lose control over the file. The file could be copied and disrupted. Not good.

However, Moodle allows for restrictions on users and files. The teacher already had a Moodle course set up. We set up a group for the students who need the test read (test listeners). Then we restricted a Topic (Tests Read) to just the group test listeners. This means that only the students who are part of the group test listeners will even see the Tests Read topic in the course. Within that topic, we created a page for this specific test. The teacher broke the test into sets of 10 questions. Using Audacity, a free audio recording program (but really, anything that could record audio and share the file would work), the test questions were read and recorded. Each set of questions was then uploaded onto that page within Moodle. Further restrictions on the time and date of the topic were instituted.

This allows the teacher to have control over the reading of the questions. The teacher only has to do it once. The reading can be used as many students as the teachers wants. The teacher has total control over which students have access to the files (remember, if the student signs into Moodle, that student MUST be a member of the group or they won’t even see the Topic). Once the students sign in, they can scrub through the test questions as they need to. The playing of the audio is handled directly in Moodle. For the students, it is very user friendly. For the teacher, the necessary control over access is present.

Two examples of the Random Glossary Block.

Moodle Glossary

Two examples of the Random Glossary Block.

Two examples of the Random Glossary Block.

Recently, I attended the Michigan Moodle Moot. This is an extremely well run conference. I also had an opportunity to present. My presentation was all about the Moodle Glossary. I find the Glossary to be a powerful tool. It is one of the under utilized activities.

The Glossary allows students to create a resource for the entire class. There are two broadly general types of activities in Moodle, those that are “private” between the student and teacher and those that are available for all the class to see. Assignments are generally private between a student and a teacher. The student completes the assignment and turns it in the teacher. The Glossary is very different in that the work that the students do is viewable by the entire class.

This is one of the great things about the Glossary module. It allows the class to create class resources. The Glossary Module allows the students to create a glossary of terms (pretty obvious). However, it can also be used in many more ways. The students can create a list of “dead words”, complete with synonyms, of words that shouldn’t be used in writing. Many teachers do this with a poster in the classroom. The problem with a poster in the classroom is that students don’t have access to it at home (or in another classroom). By creating a list of dead words as a Glossary, students have access whenever they are connected to the Internet (which is pretty much all the time for many students).

Another potential use of the Glossary module is to have the students pick topics for research, presentations or other in class assignments. Using the Glossary means that the students will be able to see what others have chosen. A teacher could further lock this down by providing the students with a list of potential topics and then having student enter their choice. By not allowing duplicate entries, the first student to type in the topic “wins” that topic. (There are other modules that would allow students to pick from a list as well). With the Glossary module, students could provide feedback to each other about the topic as well.

The Glossary module could also be used for students to write a little bit about themselves to share with the class. This can be a great way for the class to get to know each other. Simply have the student’s enter their name as the concept and then some facts about themselves as the definition. This can also be used in conjunction with two truths and a lie. Comments can be enabled so that other students could guess the lie.

There are a couple of things to know about the Glossary module that make it very powerful.

  • The teacher can set the Random Glossary block to display for the students. This will put a block on the student page that displays, well, a random glossary term.
  • The Glossary module can allow Comments. This makes it very easy for students to provide feedback to each other.
  • The Glossary module can also allow ratings. Students can rate an entry by stars, thus providing more feedback.
  • Glossary entries can either be allowed to be duplicated or not.
  • There are several different types of Glossary entries (including an FAQ styled entry list).
  • The Glossary module can be linked so that new entries automatically are defined throughout the course. This means that when a new entry is created, that word or concept will be identified. Students can then click on the word (phrase, concept) and a pop up will show them the definition.

Here are a few more ideas on using the Glossary:

  • Student List/Introduction
  • Presenter List
  • Teaching Strategies
  • Dictionary
  • Resource Collection
  • About Me
  • Rating Feedback
  • Vocabulary (Random Glossary Block)
  • Recipes
  • Grammar Tips
  • Student Created Definitions/
  • Student Debate Topics (with feedback)
  • Media Elements
  • Math concepts
  • Dead words
  • Restaurant activity (site a restaurant and why someone should go there) Community involvement
  • Ice breakers
    • You might be surprised that…
  • Review for a quiz
  • Students Write quiz questions (export / import into Quiz)- can be private or open
  • Historical Figures
  • Science: Human Anatomy
  • Acronyms
  • Thought of the day
  • Quote of the day
  • Simple Peer Assessment

This is just a quick overview of the Glossary module in Moodle. Hopefully, you will be inspired to check it out and use it in your classroom. If you are interested in more specific instructions on using the Glossary, please let me know.

Moodle Theme

Although Moodle is extremely powerful, by default, it still looks caught up in the past. Sad, but true. The default lay out is a three column layout that is informative, but not pretty. Moodle leadership has recognized this design issue. As a result, they have reduced the number of default themes down to two (More and Clean). Both of these are responsive (which means that they adjust well to different size screens). They are a great improvement over what was in place just a little while ago. However, when it comes to being beautiful, well, they provide the user a lot of information.

Moodle Standard Theme

Moodle has encouraged the community to develop themes to improve the look of Moodle. This is one of the strengths of an open source community. Many themes are available with different looks. After all, what works and look beautiful to me, may be unworkable and ugly to you.

One truly popular theme is Essential. Here is the blurb from their webpage:

The idea of this theme is to make the site look as little like Moodle as possible. In this specific instance, it would be used on sites where Moodle would potentially serve as a company homepage rather than just a course list.

Cool things to know about the theme.

  • It attempts to load as many as possible icons from a font
  • Most of what you think are “graphics” are actually the Awesome font
  • The slider on the frontpage of the demo site is completely customisable through theme settings
  • I am really trying to push what Bootstrap Grids can do. As such the theme is fully responsive.
  • The footer is all custom Moodle regions. This means blocks can be added. The footer of the demo site is full of HTML blocks in this instance
  • The Theme uses Google web fonts to give it that extra bit of shazam!
  • Social Network icons appear at the top of the page dynamically based on theme settings
  • The entire colour scheme can be modified with theme settings
  • The homepage main area is just a label. The theme will ship with custom classes that you can set for tables and links to modify their formatting. No knowledge of code is needed as you can use the text editor to do this. Documentation will be provided outlining what the additional classes are.

Notice their intent: to make the site look as little like Moodle as possible. That is why many people have installed and used the Essential theme. I’ve used it as well. By default, Essential still uses a three column layout. One of the great features is the ability to reduce a Moodle instance down to two columns. I greatly prefer the two column layout.

Fortunately, I get to work with a really great guy. He has brought into the Moodle community a theme called evolve-D. This theme is based upon a two column layout.

A quick word about the layout. I’m a really, really big believer in a two column layout. I truly believe that it offers the best user experience. It allows the learner to focus on the content first and foremost. I also believe that the two columns need to be arranged with the content column first, and then the information/navigational/administrative block on the right. This lets the brain focus on content. Content should be the focus. Users should be able to get right to work and not have to think about structure or navigation.

The evolve-D theme is a great choice. It provides a customized homepage, a two column layout with blocks on the right, visual separation of Topics, and more. It even supports the Social Wall format – another project led by Chris Kenniburg.


Here you can see the nice visual separation of topics. Notice that the content (though there isn’t much content in this example) is front and center. The student knows exactly where to start. The navigation blocks are on the right and distinctively different. Fundamentally, the student knows where to start and what to do. The blocks on the side shouldn’t need to be used very often. The evolve-D theme focuses the student on the work to be done. The content is the first thing that the student will see. Thus, the focus is in the correct place. Note that all of the colors are customizable as well. The blocks on the right could have a different color scheme. The blocks could be more muted.

However, Chris isn’t satisfied. We’ve had some conversations and he is developing a new theme – Pioneer. This theme is still being developed. Here are the major points:

  • Use any Google Font with simple copy/paste. Pick a font for Headers and one for Body. Also control Font Size for body.
  • Custom Icon Navigation at top of each page for quickly getting around which includes the Custom Moodle Menu, Language Menu, and Course Search box.
  • Course Summary Images from Course Settings are now utilized by the theme Header in each course! Thank you Richard Oelmann. This allows teachers to customize the header image in their course by uploading a photo in Course Settings.
  • Socialwall Course Format Integration and customization. Allows you to control the look and feel of the Socialwall Course Format from the admin panel.
  • Block Titles have special styling brought to Moodle by Mary Evans in which the Block Title appears on the side of the block. This creates visual separation from the rest of the page and is a nice visual cue for the learner.
  • Single Page look and feel
  • Two Columns
  • Right aligned blocks

The Pioneer theme is clean, updated and graphically focused. It still presents the content as the most important feature. One of key features is the ability to add images as a header to the course. Images matter. Making Moodle even more visually appealing ultimately helps the learner engage with the site.

Moodle is still extremely powerful. Chris is helping bring some beauty to that power.

Moodle Moot

We recently held a Moodle Moot for work. We’ve structured the Moot as a two day affair. The first day is structured as an overview. We do a ton of instruction. There is a lot in Moodle to talk about. We cover Resources vs Activities. We share examples of a few specific types. We’ve chosen the most popular/used modules. The second is a “hands-on” day.

The first day is overwhelming. We’ve tried to make sure that each of the participants is creating as well as listening on day one. However, it is a lot to absorb. Sometimes things just aren’t running as fast as we’d like. For example, sometimes the network connection slows down. This means that the participants are a screen or two behind. This can lead to confusion. So we cover material to give everyone a really good overview of what Moodle can do.

The second day is completely for implementation. There are four experts in the room who are available to help with any and all questions. All of the participants create resources and/or activities that align to what they are doing in the classroom (or will be in the Fall). The four experts circulate and help guide the participants through choosing and creating.

The Moodle Moot is a powerful experience. We recognize that we are trying to take weeks or months of learning and condense it down to a couple of days. We are fully aware that these two days won’t actually replace the learning that takes place over months; rather, our goal is to provide an intensive experience to hook the participants on what they can do. The good news is that we will be following up with all of the participants throughout the school year.

Everyone who was at day one showed up for day two. That alone is a positive. The feedback was similarly positive. The real proof though comes once the school year starts.

We tried to make the Moodle Moot fun and useful. We had ICE CREAM, because everything is better with ICE CREAM, and some good food. However, the focus of the Moodle Moot was good old fashioned learning.

I’m proud of everyone who showed up and worked hard. I’m proud of the Moodle experts who provided great guidance in implementation. Now, let’s get on with the school year.

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