LWMN004: Week of August 21-27, 2017

The last week in moodlenews 21 AUG 17

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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 21st, 2017.

This week I’ll be covering The Moodle User Interface and Experience, Science excitement in the classroom, Learning Tools Interoperability (or LTI) and much more.

But before we get started, a quick shout out to our sponsor:

eThink LogoeThink Education is a high-touch, high-quality Certified Moodle Partner that has a passion for the transformative power of technology for the learning process. Visit them today at to schedule a demo and learn why so many Moodle institutions are making the switch to eThink.


In this section, I summarize the three most popular posts from the last 7 days on

  • First, you can now use Moodle without a browser with the release of Moodle Desktop for Windows, Mac and Linux
    • Less than a month out from its release on the Windows 10 store, Moodle Desktop is now also available for Windows 7 and 8, mac OS and the Linux flavors – Ubuntu, Fedora and Debian.
    • Moodle Desktop will make it easier for IT administrators to set up permissions and settings across multiple devices in an organization. Also, users will enjoy faster access and offline features that mirror the same currently available in the Moodle Mobile apps.
    • If you want to get started with Moodle Desktop, make sure the Moodle Mobile app is enabled on your Moodle admin settings.
  • Next, what the most recent updates to 4 of the top Moodle themes reveal about best in practice learning design
    • One of the things we love most about open source technologies like Moodle, is the speed at which good ideas spread.
    • Of course, it also helps that there is a good deal of “friendly competition” among theme developers, who want to add value to the largest number of users.
    • This month, we feature updates to “Moove,” a child of the default “Boost” theme, as well as the Moodle classics “Adaptable,” “Essential” and “Campus.”
  • And finally, Moodle 3.3 now allows users to tag specific items
    • While tags aren’t anything new to the tech universe, they’re still pretty fantastic. Tags help us cope with the firehose of information in our digital lives.
    • For those who like to keep things organized (like me), Moodle has made tags more useful by allowing tagging of individual posts in forums, entries in the Glossary and chapters in the Book activity.
    • So go ahead and tag everything your heart desires! You can also let your students add tags you’ve created, or create their own.

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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.


In this section, I dive in-depth into one of the most interesting topics happening in the Moodle community over the past week.

  • An interesting moment took place during the last MoodleMoot US, and continued online for several days. Martin Dougiamas, creator and founder of Moodle, asked the audience what they would like to see new or improved in the user experience and user interface. He saved the replies on a live google document that he later shared with the community.
    • This provides us, as a community, an opportunity to discuss how to improve both the Moodle User Interface (or UI) and the overall User experience (or UX).
  • Alright, so, what was in the document? These are the most requested UX and UI features for future Moodle releases, from the MoodleMoot audience:
    • The most popular feature request is the ability to allow “simple” and “advanced” modes in the Moodle settings. I think it’s a brilliant idea, as it keeps newbies and advanced Moodlers equally satisfied. It’s also a feature commonly found in software and phones everywhere.
    • Next on the list is a series of suggestions to make navigation more uniform and intuitive, such as making all settings pages look the same, keeping buttons on the same places across pages, and adding “Previous” and “Next” navigation links in the activities.
    • The last time I checked the live document, more features were still being added and discussed by some of the top minds of the Moodleverse.
  • But I would like to hear your thoughts too: What are your Moodle UX and UI wishes? Here are some ways you can help make them happen:
    • If you think you’ve found something truly wrong with the Moodle technology, you can report it by creating an “Issue” in the Moodle Tracker, the place where every bug and error is centralized. It’s available at (Remember, if you just have a question about how to use Moodle, visit the forums to get help).
    • For those of you with the skills, consider jumping in and fixing the issue yourself. If you want to suggest any changes to the Moodle code, visit the open repository at where you can find all the Moodle code, create your own copy to tweak it, and then submit your changes to Moodle for review. A lot of important features and security fixes have often come from the support of the Moodle community.
    • If you think your fix or new feature is too much to handle, take a page out of Gemma Lesterhuis’ book. She is a member of the Moodle Users Association. Every six months, the MUA selects a member project and sponsors the development in Moodle. Check out our story on how Gemma got her project to enhance the Moodle Calendar chosen for the next version of Moodle. Don’t forget to visit for membership information.

This section of the last week in Moodlenews is sponsored by WizIQ. Trusted by many, WizIQ’s Virtual Classroom plugin for Moodle lets you deliver live classes from within your Moodle LMS. Download now at


In this section, I discuss interesting information that affects everyone in edtech.

  • Educators and policy officials everywhere have had trouble achieving the goal of increasing students’ interest in STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
    • But now, a multi-disciplinary team of researchers seem to have found a gateway. As it turns out, interest in STEM is contagious, not too differently from how some microorganisms behave.
    • The research proposed the concept of an “interest quorum”. An interest quorum is a critical number of peers that already show a high level of interest in STEM. They found a high correlation between the presence of interest quorums and motivation in STEM. In some cases it even influenced the career choices, favoring biology, chemistry and physics.
    • The research took into account factors that are often associated with STEM preferences. But even after controlling for academic achievement, family support, or gender, the effect of interest quorums was still positive in every case.
  • This sounds great, right? Except that now the question becomes: What is an interest quorum, and how can you get one?
    • Unfortunately, the research is not super specific on this. One method identified by the research was using surveys where students answered how interested they were in STEM as a career choice, and how interested they thought their classmates were.
    • Also, the interest quorum did not have to be constantly active. Creating spaces throughout the week where the most engaged students feel free to talk and share what makes them excited about STEM with others, could be a way to kickstart an interest quorum.
    • Finally, there is a bit of a subtle point about the value of team-based approaches for subjects generally considered as difficult. In real life, STEM is always a team effort. Peers let each other know where they are wrong, and encourage perseverance.
  • If you want to find our more by diving into the original research, look for “Interest in STEM is contagious for students in biology, chemistry and physics classes” published on Science Advances.


In this section, I focus on a practical way to help you up your Moodle game.

  • This week, I want to help you get started with Learning Tools Interoperability, or the LTI standard.
    • LTI was developed by IMS Global, a consortium of EdTech providers looking to level the playing field and promote a marketplace of educational content.
    • With LTI, you can plug all kinds of activities into your Moodle course. If the activity allows it, you can even plug results and scores into the Moodle gradebook, and get some analytics for your effort.
    • You can also use Moodle to host your educational content for others to use on their sites by using the “Publish as LTI tool” option in the menu for the activity.
  • If you’re still on the fence about LTI, consider the following three advantages:
    • #1: It levels the playing field among LMS and EdTech providers and prevents users from staying captive by any one vendor.
    • #2: It increases the exposure of high-quality educational content and might help creators get more business.
    • And #3: since all users have to access the content in its original platform, it gives more control to the creator about how the LTI resource is used.
  • So where can you get some LTI?
    • Unfortunately, there is not a central directory or search engine. At, however, you can find documentation, best practices, tutorials and examples.
    • In the Moodle Hub there is a section devoted to LTI, but sadly, there are relatively few items listed. If you know interesting LTI sites, add them to the Hub!
    • Probably the best LTI portal around is, which is maintained by Moodle competitor Canvas.


In this section, we discuss what we’re excited about publishing this week at

  • We will feature StudentQuiz, a plugin that lets students create their own practice questions and build a collective question bank.
    • Teachers or students can use the questions to prepare for real exams. They can choose a subset of the bank with tags and filters.
    • To encourage students to create quality questions, it uses gamification, so students can rate each other, even anonymously.
    • StudentQuiz was developed in Switzerland, by the University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil.
  • We share some updates on Moodle 3.4, which has promised to bring lots of improvements in usability.
    • This next release may not bring shiny new features, but it will feature enhancements across the board.
    • Tools like the calendar, or even the recently launched course overview, are set for a complete makeover.
    • Moodle 3.4 is scheduled for the second week of November, but you can check out ”how the sausage is being made” on the demo site at
  • Finally, Mr. Moodle gets a question from Melissa about user roles and permissions.
    • In Moodle development lingo, they’re called “capabilities”. We can basically define a user role by the capabilities they have, or don’t.
    • An administrator can tweak the capabilities for any default role, or create custom ones with all sorts of crazy combinations of capabilities!
    • Don’t miss out Mr. Moodle’s response, with practical advice on how to deal with the more than 600 capabilities available in Moodle.

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.

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