LWMN002: Week of August 7-13, 2017

The Last Week In MoodleNews for August 7,2017

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Hey there – welcome to The Last Week in MoodleNews, I’m Stephen Ladek from

In this episode, we’ll be talking about the most important stories from the Moodleverse for the week of August 7th, 2017.

This week I’ll be covering MoodleMoot US, MOOCs, the Moodle Gradebook and much more. But before we get started, a quick shout out to our sponsor:

eThink LogoThis podcast is sponsored by eThink Education: a high-touch, high quality Certified Moodle Partner that has a passion for the transformative powers of technology for the learning process. Visit them today at


  • Is Instructional Quality better with courses that are taught online or face-to-face?
    • This is a key question that comes out from the release of the report “Instructional Quality, Student Outcomes and Institutional Finances” by the American Council on Education.
    • Why are they asking? Because systems of Higher Education throughout the world face tremendous pressure to accommodate the largest demand for college and university degrees the world has ever seen.
    • This problem is interesting to the Moodleverse because, to help alleviate this situation, one of the Council’s proposals includes increasing focus on experimentation with virtual and blended environments.
    • For the link to read more about their other proposals go to and look for – Do Online Programs Help Instructional Quality Better Than Face-To-Face Ones?
  • Next, is “Shanghai Math’ the most effective method for teaching Mathematics in K-12 classrooms?
    • In unprecedented news, the Secretary of Education in the UK announced that their math curricula will be based on direct translations of the textbooks used in the Chinese city.
    • The methods, which also go by the name “Real Shanghai Mathematics,” focus on mastery of a topic before moving on to the next one and making sure everybody in a class advances together, among other things.
    • Critics point out that these methods, while they do have a visible impact in a country’s standardized scores, don’t seem to materialize in creative thinking or innovation down the road.
    • Dive deeper into this conversation at by searching for – How To Teach Math In Moodle, The ‘Shaghai’ Way
  • Finally, the “Fordson” theme releases version 1.5.5
    • The most popular theme in the “less than a year old” category, “Fordson” is a theme built with input from K-12 teachers at the heart of the Dearborn Schools District in Michigan.
    • The new version includes a series of dazzling visual enhancements in the course gallery, with “hover” effects and presets.
    • These updates are only the newest in the great list of features “Fordson” has with the K-12 audience in mind, but which can be enjoyed by the whole Moodleverse.
    • Check out more at by searching for  – K-12 Moodle Theme ‘Fordson’ Adds Hover Effect On Course Display, More Goodies
  • Check out the links to all these stories at


  • The most anticipated event of the summer is a wrap! We share the good, the great, and the even greater from MoodleMoot US 2017 New Orleans.
    • First of all, the Moot shared all of what makes these events so memorable for the attendees. Expert workshops, insightful conversation and the friendliest community ever in a fantastic and fun setting!
    • Martin Dougiamas, the creator and CEO of Moodle, introduced us to his vision for the next 10 years of Moodle. Briefly, the future is mobile, and Open Educational Resources will play an increasingly larger role.
      What Will Moodle Look Like In The Next 10 Years? The Creator Wonders
    • The “hot topic” of the event -and the season- was analytics. A two-part workshop by Elizabeth Dalton was one of the most popular sessions where she emphasizes drawing a line between learning analytics and “user” analytics that were originally conceived for commercial purposes.
      The Learning Analytics Roadmap: The Dalton Plan. MoodleMoot Australia 2016 [LAR Series #6]
  • But there was a special element: the debut of the new Education team at Moodle HQ, led by Tom Murdock. Murdock is a long time advocate of the possibilities of technology and education, even before he co-founded Moodlerooms, a Moodle partner and provider of custom Moodle solutions.
    • The new team will make sure more teachers around the world learn how to, in Tom’s words, “slow and bend time”, and have more time to think about creating rich experiences for their students.
    • Moodle has always been thought of as a tool to empower teachers, a goal which seems to be more important than ever.
    • You can read a deeper profile on Tom Murdock at
      Messiness, Time And Moodlerooms: An Interview With Moodle Education Manager
  • Moodlers who visited the Moot also had the opportunity to enjoy some of the highlights of Blackboard’s conference, BBWorld 2017.
    • The warmest reception, both in the event and online, went to Mae Jemison, an American engineer, physician, NASA astronaut and the first African-American woman in space.
    • Dr. Jill Biden, former Second Lady of the US and longtime education advocate, also shared her thoughts in a keynote
  • You can recount the highlights of MoodleMoot US 2017 with us on And if you are on Twitter, visit @moodlenews to check out our “Twitter Moment”

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Hey guys!  Did you know this podcast is also sponsored by eCreators? Established in 2007, eCreators are a dedicated team with a passion for online education and all forms of learning technology. Go check out to learn how they can help you with LMS hosting, e-learning development and Moodle training goals.



  • Should you launch your own MOOC? For a few years now, experiences in Massive Online Open Courses have matured, and there’s some general learning you can use to make sure you bring the most value to your students.
    • If you’re a Moodlepreneur, whether solo or part of a small team, don’t be afraid to experiment with new ways of interaction or new ways to expand your reach because, generally, what students are looking for is continuous expert interaction.
    • This is also true if you are launching a MOOC on behalf of a larger organization. Branding becomes a key element of your platform. But this goes beyond a sleek design with the colors of your corporate image. Students are really looking for content structure and teaching as criteria of quality and value.
    • If you are a company looking to fund a MOOC as a marketing program, make sure it delivers real learning value. Make sure students can differentiate between instructional and commercial content. If they skip the sections about your brand, they will still appreciate it for the educational experience you are providing.
  • No matter who you are, it has never been easier to launch a MOOC. But this does not mean that you always should. Consider the following three reasons why you should not launch a MOOC.
    • #1: Don’t launch a MOOC because “everybody is doing it.” Make sure you will offer a really valuable experience to your students, and that you have clear and measurable goals before you make any investments.
    • #2: Don’t create videos thinking they will make your students automatically engage. This is true for any kind of content. Find the right match between medium and message.
    • #3: Test, learn, fix, repeat. You won’t get it right the first time. Think of a MOOC as a living entity, that must be adjusted and moved until it finds its audience.
  • To conclude: if you are thinking about launching a MOOC, which you don’t have to, the following tips might be worth considering:
    • #1: While you can create a MOOC that anyone can join at any time and follow at their own pace, in most cases setting launch and end dates can help people stay active. It also encourages taking classes as a group.
    • #2: MOOCs that tend to yield the best outcomes in terms of retention and completion do not last longer than 6 weeks and have a very specific topic. This may explain why MOOCs have been more successful for professional learners than high school or college students.
    • Finally, #3: Remember that a price is a signal. It might seem like a paradox, but students who pay for a MOOC tend to be more active and are more likely to complete it than free ones.

This section of LWMN is sponsored by WizIQ, a ready-to-use, integrated delivery platform for instructors and institutions. Get everything you need to teach and train online at



  • Let’s talk about the Moodle Gradebook. For many Moodle-based teachers, the Gradebook is the place where they spend most of their time. Which is not a bad thing by itself. Not entirely anyway.
    • If spending time on the Gradebook is taking time away from preparing materials or answering your students questions, you might want to take a look at our past articles about how to make the most of the Gradebook options and how to be more productive. Just search for the “tag” Gradebook at
    • Broadly speaking, a piece advice that always seems to resonate is this: have at least a basic idea of how your course will be graded, and the weight you will give to individual activities and sections, before you even open the Gradebook.
    • But don’t be afraid to correct course if you think it’s necessary. Once you get familiar with the Gradebook and how the weightings work, adjusting them is straightforward. Just make sure your students don’t get surprised by sudden and unexpected changes.
  • Now, if you are on solid ground with the Gradebook, why not spice things up a bit? There are a few things you can do to energize your course using the Gradebook:
    • First, you can take a step back and consider if the way you are grading activities makes sense for your students. Maybe you could be more generous with the deadlines for an assignment or the number of attempts in a quiz.
    • If your Moodle course covers a broad list of topics, why not set some activities as optional so that it gives students extra points if they complete them, but no penalty if they don’t? This will allow students to play their strengths and have more positive associations with your subject.
    • Last, but not least, you could try Rubrics, which allow you to grade student work according to several criteria. You can read more about it in our Rubrics 101 article at
      Moodle Rubrics 101: Understand, Design, Deploy them in Moodle
  • Of course, you can always get some expert advice. Last year at MoodleMoot Australia, Darrell Klar and Michael Williams asked their audience: How does your Gradebook look?
    • Darrell and Michael realized that the Gradebook could be an edge in the offering of their startup, Upskilled, which provides vocational training in Australia.
    • An idea they put in practice is the “expected proficiency,” a field where students put the grade they think they will get from a grading activity before they take it. This seems to help students put their expectations in check, which can help with their testing anxiety.
    • They also took care of teachers, making the Gradebook more clear and colorful. Check out our summary at, which includes the full video of their talk:
      Let Darrell Klar and Michael Williams Show You How to Make the Most of Your Moodle Gradebook


  • Moodle Mobile 3.3.1 is out!
    • The Moodle Mobile apps for Android and iOS have followed the schedule of the Moodle core, which is a signal of the commitment to mobile by the development team.
    • We’ll take the opportunity to discuss the dynamics of mobile LMS markets around the world. In many places, it is a lot more likely that the first experience young students have with computers involves phones and not desktops or laptops.
    • Moodle Mobile 3.3.1 will include even more activities that students can complete offline, as well as improvements and availability in more languages.
  • We will also feature an article on Voice-Activated LMS:
    • In parallel to MoodleMoot US and BBWorld, the parent company of Canvas, Instructure, also hosted their main event, InstructureCon, where it debuted its Alexa Skill. Students, parents, and teachers can interact with Amazon Alexa for details about their courses.
    • In BBWorld, the Blackboard Ultra LMS also debuted its “Alexa game,” which is mostly a voice-based manual for Ultra.
    • Could Moodle be integrated with Alexa anytime soon? We will take a look at the ways this could be possible.
  • Finally, after some recent news about diversity in EdTech we ask: how bad is it?
    • As a member of the greater technology community, the same demographics seem to apply to EdTech, with few roles played by women or minorities.
    • And a look at the funding for new EdTech startups suggests the trend is not going to curb any time soon.
    • This is especially striking when we consider that the opposite arrangement is the norm in teaching, especially in preschool, which happens to be one of the places with the least amount of EdTech solutions and investments.

Ok – that’s it for this week. Thanks for listening to The Last Week in MoodleNews Podcast. Remember, for all the links and resources mentioned in this episode just visit

And, if you like what you’re hearing, please take just a few seconds to give us a review on iTunes or whatever podcast app you happen to be using…and, of course, join me next week for all the most important news about Moodle.

LWMN is hosted and produced by Stephen Ladek, with writing, research, and editing by Cristian Duque and Joseph Thibault.

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