LWMN005: Week of Aug 28th – Sep 3rd, 2017

The last week in moodlenews 28 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 28th, 2017.

This week I’ll be covering Moodle’s fifteenth birthday, small and public colleges vs commercial EdTech, closing the feedback loop in Moodle, and much more.

But before I get started, I wanted to take a minute to thank everyone who has sent us feedback about this podcast since we launched last week. The response thus far has been fantastic and I really hope you keep it coming. Seriously, I really want to know how I can evolve and improve this show to make sure its fun and entertaining, but most importantly, delivering the information you’re most interested about Moodle. So, let me know – are there other news stories you’d like covered? Do you want interviews with Moodlers around the world? Or something else?

Just take 30 seconds out of your day and give me a shout at the Moodlenews website, on our facebook page or twitter, or just by emailing me at [email protected]

Ok now, last but not least, so that we can keep this show on the air, 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


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

    • First, Martin Dougiamas wishes everyone, and Moodle, a happy 15th birthday!
      • As you’re likely aware, Moodle 1.0 was officially launched on midnight of August 20th, 2002 on the Moodle forum.
      • In our article we fast forward to today, where Martin reflects on how fast things have moved and how Moodle has become a truly community driven project.
      • If you want to watch the full video, we have it for you in our article on
  • Next, Get ready for MoodleMoot Colombia 2017
    • This strategically located country is an interesting prospect for the future of Moodle. While it’s only the 30th in the world in terms of population, it’s the ninth largest Moodle country in terms of registrations, and the third among Spanish speakers.
    • MoodleMoot Colombia will take place in Bogotá, starting Thursday, August 31st.
    • You can follow the activities on MoodleNews or on social media using the hashtag #MootCO17.
  • Finally, MoodleMoot Romania 2017 is a wrap
    • In the last decade, the Eastern European country has become a regional center of learning technologies, with a particular focus on open source.
    • In July, it hosted the IEEE International Conference in Advanced Learning Technologies.
    • The official Moot took place in Bucharest last week. Along with the talks and networking opportunities you associate with all Moots, the event also featured a “hackathon.”


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

  • So, as I mentioned just a second ago, On August 20th, 2002 Moodle turned 15th.
    • It all started at Curtin University, where Martin Dougiamas was thinking about using the internet as a tool for distance learning after graduation.
    • It’s not a surprise this was on Martin’s mind, as distance learning is something Australia has quite a bit of experience with. Australia is home to some of the most remote communities in the world, and initiatives like the School of the Air have given millions of kids the opportunity to get an education using technology since the sixties.
    • Since its inception 15 years ago, tons of work by people across the globe have made Moodle what it is today. Last year, we shared a mesmerizing visualization by Nicolas Martignoni that captures these contributions over time.
  • Celebrations around the world have happened throughout the month. If you were in one of the dozens of cities where Moodle events took place, make sure you share them on social media using the hashtag #MoodleParty.
  • But before the party is over, let’s step back for a second and think about the next 15 years in learning technology and open source:
    • Will Moodle continue to rapidly grow its number of registered users? And if so, where will these numbers come from?
    • What are the new features that will become the norm in EdTech in the next decade? Will we witness VR slowly take over the classroom, or will some other technology emerge?
    • There is no shortage of imagination about what EdTech could become. But if you want to get some perspective, check out the archives in our “Governance” section and learn from Moodle HQ’s history lessons.

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


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

  • This week I want to talk about whether new EdTech companies will save public education, small colleges and universities, or make them extinct?
    • I recently came across two stories that might give you some perspective on either side.
    • In many ways, this is an age-old debate. But we do live in an age where reliance in digital technologies is increasing, sometimes in a way that’s too fast to make sense of everything.
    • At the same time, digital technologies do bring opportunities that are too good to pass up, for students, teachers and administrators.
  • The first story tells us how organizations jumping too hastily into the digital economy could find themselves at a disadvantage with their tech-savvy partners.
    • The Century Foundation recently published a report called “The Private Side of Public Higher Education”. The report argues that private EdTech companies are playing an increasingly large role as intermediaries between the programs offered by public institutions and the platforms students use, such as Moodle or other LMSs.
    • Since 2015, these EdTech intermediaries have recorded double-digit rates of growth. The EdTech companies, which are sometimes called Online Program Managers, often serve a useful purpose by bringing public education institutions into the modern landscape.
    • But this can come with risks down the road. For starters, the Online Program Managers have no obligation, and no economic incentive, to help public institutions to become technologically self-sufficient. In fact, the opposite seems to be the case. And in the long term, vital technologies could end up completely in private hands.
  • A contrasting view came out a few days later, in a report by the Council of Independent Colleges titled “The Financial Resilience of Independent Colleges and Universities.”
    • The report highlights the high level of competitiveness taking place in small colleges, and their perennial risk of financial instability and the many ways private services have helped these same institutions stay afloat.
    • The authors find that, a set of institutional leadership characteristics, where embracing innovation and new technologies is emphasized, are much more significant predictors of long-term sustainability than future trends in enrollments or revenues from tuition and fees.


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

  • Many people in the moodleverse love analytics. And, if you take a look at the “Analytics” tag on, you know we do too. But, while stats and graphs are sexy, we also need to make sure that the analytics we track turn into feedback that our learners can understand and apply.
    • In still a great deal of classrooms, a learner’s score on an assignment is the beginning and end of feedback – this is how they understand the quality of their work.
    • In Moodle, activities where students have to upload their work can be also annotated by instructors.
    • So, it’s important to think of feedback as taking place on a “loop.” As an instructor, any new time you have an assignment from a learner in your hands, you should consider it a “checkpoint,” where ideally you should be able to get a sense of how much they have improved since the last time.
  • For those who really want to improve the feedback they give to their learners, here are three questions to reflect on:
    • #1: Do you have the right tools in place to assess your learners, and identify the areas that need work?
    • #2: Can learners efficiently access your notes, comments or suggestions for the future?
    • And #3: Do learners have the opportunity to complete the “loop”, so you can check their performance and quality on the same skill?
  • Here are 3 ways you can help “close the feedback loop” in Moodle:
    • First of all, check out the talk by Jessica Gramp about how to, “View and Compare Assessment Feedback in Moodle”. In her talk, she showcases the “My Feedback” plugin, but she also makes the case that any tool to give feedback can only be as good as the feedback you are giving. So, as your first step, make sure your learners get clear and relevant feedback for their assignments.
    • Second, make use of productivity tools to save time while giving the feedback. In the latest “Plugin Review” at MoodleNews, we featured “Structured Feedback”, a tool where you can save your best bits of advice for quick access during your evaluation.
    • Finally, give your learners opportunities to show they have understood and incorporated feedback. Give them new tasks that are comparable, and make sure there are ways they can identify how they have improved their skills.


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

  • This week, we’ll be publishing a special review of the general purpose family of plugins by the Academic Moodle Cooperation, or AMC, that are now available for Moodle 3.3.
    • AMC is a partnership of Austrian Universities that works together to give Moodle special features that are common requests by their members, which are then made available to the global community.
    • All 9 plugins developed and maintained by AMC are great, but you can’t miss MC Offline Quiz. If you consistently have to organize and grade pen and paper-based testing, this plugin will change your life!
    • And that’s not all! AMC also produces a series of “cheat sheets,” with visual, step-by-step instructions on how to use the plugins in real life.
  • We will also share some updates from Moodle partners and organizations as they continue to expand and offer more integrated services in Africa.
    • We’ll follow up on eThink (who is a sponsor of this podcast) and a Moodle partner who recently started to offer services in Nigeria.
    • We’ll also talk about a case study involving Green Innovation Centre at AfricaRice and their use of Moodle Mobile for teaching agriculture.
    • And MoodleMoot South Africa is coming up this October – we’ll have more information about the event online soon.
  • Finally: are you ready for the General Data Protection Regulation?
    • The European Union will begin to enforce GDRP in May next year. It will especially affect technology companies who are based outside the continent but serve European users and students.
    • One of the most critical issues involves data privacy. The law includes very specific restrictions on how companies can use information about users. And, the penalties for not complying can be very steep.
    • We will give you clear-cut explanations of the practical implications of the law, and Moodle’s position and plan to guarantee compliance for all its users.

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.

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

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

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