LWMN003: Week of August 14-20, 2017

The Last Week In MoodleNews Podcast for August 14th, 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 14th, 2017.

This week I’ll be covering the Moodle Hub, Moodle as an assistive technology, Moodle themes 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


  • Our most popular article was about 8 Shining Stars at the New Orleans’ MoodleMoot US 2017 and BbWorld
    • In our article, we reflect on one of the largest events of the summer for education technologists, where we discovered an interesting contrast between open source and commercial LMSs.
    • In the Moodle camp, Elizabeth Dalton recommends us to “support multiple definitions of success” in our analytics and general practice. And  Tom Murdock invites us to “embrace the messiness” that is a natural part of learning.
    • From Blackboard’s side, important education and science advocates included Jill Biden, Mae Jemison and Temple Grandin. Check out the full list stars at
  • Next, everyone is excited that Moodle Mobile 3.3.1 is out
    • The Moodle mobile applications for Android and iOS received minor but important upgrades.
    • Importantly, offline capabilities keep growing. In this update, the Moodle Database Activity has been included, which lets class groups build sets of information in an organized way. Students can now include images to the database as evidence of a place or an experience, even without an internet connection.
    • The apps have also received a bump in speed, come with a lot of bug fixes and include Serbian and Lithuanian as language options.
  • Finally, Mr. Moodle answers:  How Can I Make The Most Of XML In Moodle Quizzes?
    • For the first question in our Mr. Moodle series reboot, we talk about the XML structure of the Moodle Quiz.
    • If you have some knowledge of the basic XML syntax, as probably we all should, Mr. Moodle explains that it is easier to visualize the Moodle Quiz as a tree, where each question is a branch.
    • You can read Mr. Moodle’s full answer on, which includes a basic XML example to get you started.


  • Did you know that in addition to the LMS, Moodle also offers a database of free educational content? It’s called the Moodle Hub, and it could use your help.
    • The Moodle Hub, available at, offers instructional resources and even complete courses that you can join, or that you can deploy in your own Moodle site.
    • All the downloadable content has Creative Commons licensing, which means you can use it, change it and repurpose it. The course creators want you to make it your own.
    • In addition to courses and activities, the Hub also offers tools to enhance the Moodle site, such pre-loaded Glossaries, Databases and Quiz question banks
  • The Moodle Hub has been available for a long time, but it seems to live under the radar of some Moodlers.
    • Think of the Moodle Hub as another source for Open Educational Resources, just like OpenStax, OER Commons, Open Up Resources or EngageNY. You can check out our recap of the year in OER on the post associated with this podcast.
      A Year In The Life Of Open Educational Resources
    • At the Moodle Hub, you can also find special content just for Moodle, from User Tours, to complete Competency Frameworks encompassing several courses.
    • Another initiative within the Moodle Hub is an inventory of OER that support Learning Tools Interoperability, or the LTI standard. Resources that support LTI can be offered inside a Moodle site but can be hosted anywhere.
  • Recently, Moodle HQ started a special pledge drive to improve the richness and usefulness of the Moodle Hub.
    • If you have any form of educational content, with an open license, you can use the hub to share it with the world. This includes any content – sections, a set of practice questions, or a Moodle Book.
    • The Hub welcomes all kinds of original, cohesive content that is open licensed. But, remember, offering free OER does not mean there are no quality standards. Be sure to follow the upload guidelines.
    • Finally, if you have a MoodleCloud site you want to share, you can link it directly, or use the “Publish” option already available in your site.
      Follow new additions to the Moodle Hub on Twitter @moodlenet.


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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.





  • A fascinating story on shares some details about how Moodle was at the core of an initiative in South Africa to increase mathematical proficiency in students with hearing impairments. Online assessment could improve math marks of deaf learners

    • The World Health Organization estimates that there are 360 million people in the world with “disabling hearing loss.” Of these people, which represent about 5% of the planet’s population, 32 million are children.
    • Hearing impairments can have profound effects on quality of life. Early detection of listening difficulties is critical for proper medical treatment. But it’s also essential to make kids and their communities aware of the situation to prevent other emotional and psychological complications.
  • A special approach is important to ensure people with hearing impairments can participate in technological solutions.
    • Enter Dr. Nolan Damon. He’s a mathematics teacher at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, and a Moodler, interested in the opportunities blended learning can bring to students everywhere.
    • In the process of implementing an online assessment solution for mathematics, he realized something: for some of his students, there is no spoken language they can think of as “native”. This led him to think about the many ways those sound cues they do not have could affect the way they learn mathematics.
  • This amazing discovery became obvious when he started to analyze the way deaf or hard-of-hearing students used mathematics in their daily lives. He realized they can have a very hard time being able to take advantages of the mathematical idea of “functional relationships”.
    • Even if we don’t realize it, we use functional relationships all the time. For example, if you are rushing to catch the train, you can tell by listening if you’ll be able to make it or, or realize that no matter how hard you run you’ve missed. As it turns out, people with hearing impairments have a lot of trouble doing these kinds of things.
    • Dr. Damon had a very important question: is this a result of the impairment, or a result of the standard methods of the way we teach math? By focusing on a program that had real effects in the way students take advantage of functional relationships, we was able to prove that students with hearing impairments can score as high as the rest of the class in math exams.
    • The key to the success of his intervention was a Moodle course of mathematics for 8th grade students. It included plugins built by Dr. Damon that enriched the visual elements of mathematical teaching and assessment.

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 Themes in Moodle. Themes let you personalize and enhance the visual appearance of your Moodle site, and sometimes its functions.
    • Most organizations think of a theme as a way to reflect their own image or brand. And, there’s nothing wrong with that. A well fitting theme can be seen as a reflection of quality and trustworthiness.
    • But themes can be so much more than that! When it comes to educational technology, the way an interface defines student interaction can have significant consequences in their level of understanding and retention or a topic.
      The Impact of a Moodle Theme on Learning
    • In the past, we have asked: does tech understand learning? While a sound design process is just as valuable for learning tools as anything else, we could probably be doing a better job of thinking about the different needs of a user who is learning, from those of a user who is reading, completing a transaction, or buying.
      What Should We Be Asking about the Relationship Between Moodle and UX?
  • So when you are choosing a theme for your Moodle site, think carefully about the features and elements you are being offered. Here are three tips to help you decide:
    • #1: Ask frequently: Was this feature created with the needs of a student or a learner in mind? We would like our students to be engaged on a site, in which case an flashy notifications icon would help. But it is not so good when we also want them to be focused.
    • #2: Is this feature important, and if it is, how prominent should it be? We want themes that support lots of cool Moodle features. But they don’t have to show up on top of every page. A menu where you can put them, and that can hide when it’s not needed is always a good idea.
    • #3: Is this theme too colorful, or too bland? Yes! Too many colors can be distracting. But a “boring,” monotone theme is also a problem. You want your students to be looking forward to logging in Moodle.
  • Dive in and check out available themes for Moodle, for free, in the Moodle plugin directory.
    • Remember to make sure the theme you choose is compatible with your Moodle version. If you want the latest and greatest, it’s probably a good idea to get the latest Moodle version.
    • As of December 2016, “Boost” is the newest Moodle default theme. A great thing about “Boost” is that it allows you to add and change some parts of its design using presets, without having to install new themes. “Boost” is available for Moodle 3.2 and above.
      All You Need To Know To Create Your Own Boost Based Theme For Moodle 3.2 and 3.3
    • And, of course, for more in-depth reviews of the latest and most popular themes, check out our coverage, on the MoodleNews category “themes”.
      MoodleNews coverage on the “Themes” category


  • First, Moodle Desktop is now available for Windows, Mac and Linux
    • This version mirrors the functionality offered by the Moodle Mobile apps, including offline access.
    • This version is special because it does not need a web browser to work and is primarily intended to make the jobs of IT administrators easier.
    • To enable Moodle Desktop, your Moodle site admin must enable student access through the apps.
  • What comes to mind with the word “personalization”?
    • Everybody has their own definition, but we tell you what we all think it should mean. Among other things:
      • It should give you the choice to exercise your freedom, even letting you “cherry pick” what you want in or out.
      • It should be a reflection of who you are, not just of what your brand is.
      • It should allow for a seamless, friendly relationship, where you feel that you are being heard, maybe even pampered.
  • Finally, don’t forget to check out:
    • Our latest edition of the MoodleNews EdTech Labs, where we review some of the latest academic research in the intersection of learning and technology.
    • Mr Moodle’s column, talking about superscripts, subscripts, and mathematical notation in Moodle.
    • And an update on four “hot” Moodle themes.

Ok – that’s it for this week. Thanks for listening to The Last Week in MoodleNews Podcast. 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.

Subscribe to Last Week in MoodleNews Podcast on iTunes, via RSS, on Stitcher, Subscribe on Android, or listen to it at

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