LWMN007: Week of September 11th, 2017 | Moodle for K-5, Social Cybersecurity, Writing versus Micro-Writing

The last week in moodlenews 11 SEP 17

--- Advertisement ---

Connected 2023
Connected Conference OpenLMS

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 September 11, 2017.

This week I’ll be covering Moodle for grades K-5, Social Cybersecurity, the Best plugins for writing practice, and much more.

And just a quick reminder, if you have a comment about something on the show or an idea about something you’d like to hear, 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 email me at [email protected] And, as usual, before we kick things off, 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 up – There are 13 Projects in the running for the Moodle Users Association second Development Cycle of 2017
    • The excitement of the Moodle User Association continues, with a new batch of interesting, fun and inspirational ideas set to become a part of future version of the core Moodle code .
    • From enhanced dashboards that give teachers bulk control across their course, to advanced grading and quizzing questions, to a complete renovation of the coding standards in order to make the LMS more welcoming for more developers, I’m willing to bet everyone in the Moodleverse has an opinion which project they want to root for.
    • Check out the full story on for details on each project, and to find out how you can support your favorite… even if you are not an association member yet.
  • Next we asked, What are the challenges of Higher Ed Tech in the next 20 years?
    • The report titled Future Forward by Blackboard made quite a splash across the EdTech media last week.
    • While the report included lengthy interviews with global and local subject matter experts, our coverage focused on what Blackboard considers the biggest challenges over the next two decades.
    • Cybersecurity is a common concern. However, some experts argue in the report that this could be a symptom of a larger issue associated with institutions’ inability to quickly react to ever-changing landscapes. That is, of course, if the organization has a willingness to deal with change in the first place.
  • Finally, we explained not only how Moodle handles massive installations remarkably well, but why it might be the best tool for the job
    • When you search online for comparison between LMSs, it is not uncommon to find that a “con” of Moodle is the difficulty to handle large installations, or that it cannot scale to support a sudden uptick of traffic.
    • Our story addresses five separate claims about Moodle in-scalability and explains terms like “load balancing” and “cache optimization.”
    • It takes, of course, a level of expertise to make Moodle respond properly to these kinds of challenges, as it would for any other LMS. But administrators might want to look into the tools and plugins Moodle offers to make the job easier.



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

  • Is Moodle missing out on the K-5 opportunity?
    • The size of the market for products that seek to capture children’s minds continues to grow. Sales of new software and hardware pushing for more immersive experiences for the little ones has tripled since 2013, according to Noodle Markets.
    • School administrators are not the only ones investing a higher share of their budgets in all sorts of technologies, including “adaptive algorithms.” Parents across all income brackets are replacing books and DVDs with apps and smart robots.
    • It’s also interesting to note that the innovations in this field seem to follow a path that’s different from the rest of the EdTech world, which might explain why existing companies hesitate to make the jump. And I think we have to admit Moodle just might be one of them.
  • But it doesn’t have to be this way! If you are looking to create a K-5 Moodle plugin or theme, perhaps you should consider some of these key differences:
      • #1: The Control. The fact that the product will be used by kids means that privacy and security are even bigger issues. K-5 applications must be very clear about the uses and ways it protects personal information, primarily as it concerns their parents. (FYI, Moodle’s Bootstrap framework makes these kinds of customizations fairly easy!)
      • #2: The Experience. Here more than in other cases, focus on playfulness is critical. Add color and large, simple buttons. But don’t be afraid to present learning challenges of slowly increasing difficulty.
      • #3 The Monitoring: Parents or teachers, depending on the case, should be able to keep tabs on what the kids are doing at any given time. Ideally, the activities themselves provide performance reports, that way the adult in charge can visualize the progress on a dashboard.
  • And if you are looking to customize a Moodle for K-5 or 12, here are some ideas:
    • You can’t go wrong with gamification plugins, and among them the most popular of all is without doubt Level Up!
    • If you need to involve parents into the mix, take a look at the ZiLink family of plugins, that not only let parents check on their kids, but join forums and events, turning it into a “Moodle PTA”, of sorts.
    • And of course, We could not end an section about Moodle for K-12 without mentioning the “Fordson” theme. The “Fordson” theme was created with continuous feedback by teachers at the public school district of Dearborn Michigan. In line with our recommendations, “Fordson” offers simple choices with large icons and font sizes.

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.

  • Cybersecurity is a clear and present threat, but it’s possible to protect yourself and your organiztion.
    • As our team was preparing this podcast this week, the Equifax security breach news broke. I only wanted to point it out because it shows that you can never be too careful, whether you are a provider or a consumer of digital services.
    • A particular kind of threat, known as “Ransomware”, no longer focuses on large companies with valuable information. Now, anyone can fall prey to getting their data held for ransom. In fact, a few years back ransomware attacks disrupted public school districts in five states in the US!
    • If you need some more convincing, just check out the K-12 Cyber Incident Map, available at
  • Does this mean it’s time to spend thousands of dollars protecting access to your platforms, servers and information?
    • Well, a check-up wouldn’t hurt. And the risks do grow larger the more we jump into new services and tools. But if there is one place that definitely needs more attention, is in how most users are educated about these kinds of threats.
    • In most cybersecurity cases the human is the weakest link. This holds true for students, and for faculty and administrative staff as well.
  • If you are looking to bring attention to cybersecurity issues, I recommend you build your program within a framework of Risk Management
    • A Risk Management framework gives everyone a common and organized understanding of the risks and consequences of negative events.
    • A basic Risk Management framework is a list of events that the team reviews periodically, and includes:
      • How likely a threat might happen,
      • How serious the threat would be if it happened,
      • Which measures can be taken to prevent the threat, or at least to mitigate the impacts
      • And specially, what are the assumptions made when considering the event and its consequences.
    • Finally, the Risk Management framework sends a message to your community that Cybersecurity is not a one-time threat, but an ongoing phenomenon that will continue to evolve.


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

  • What is the difference between writing, and micro-writing in Moodle?
    • With the explosion of social media, it seems that we have two camps regarding the best way to approach writing skills.
    • We have the “traditionalists”, who defend classic formats like essays and summaries. But now there are also the “modernists” who see in technology and social media new ways to engage and promote writing about issues and context that are very relevant to their daily lives.
    • In fact, a growing number of authors believe workshops focusing on writing for social media could have a bigger impact down the line, and play an additional role in preparing students for a “new reality” of the future.
  • No matter which side you’re on, Moodle offers a variety of plugins for specific writing related skills. But before I get into recommendations, I’d like to take a step back.
    • It would be very difficult to make good writers without promoting the benefits of reading: if you’re getting ready to write, you have to be able to read – your work, as well as others.
    • It is important to be open-minded about technologies that enhance spelling, or even grammar and style. Don’t be afraid to openly discuss the pros and cons of any tool with your students.
    • Finally, acknowledge writing is a skill that takes years of practice. Students might not realize right away the value of being able to express thoughts and ideas clearly. Perhaps the most important part of the job is just being there, as they struggle with grammar and vocabulary without an instant reward.
  • Here are three recommendations for Moodle plugins to help with writing:


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

  • Check out our EdTech Labs review of academic research.
    • This time, we focus on education economics, a large field that I’m sure will have something for everyone.
    • From issues of budgets, investments and innovation, to individual decision-making and resource allocation, and game theory, this is a prolific area of academic work.
  • Also, is Moodle compatible with Powerschool?
    • Find out in the upcoming Mr. Moodle column.
    • He’ll share practical ways to use benchmarks and test scores to perform simple and useful proficiency analysis.
    • And if you have any question, anything at all, even if it’s only slightly related to Moodle, go ahead and ask! That’s what keeps Mr. Moodle alive.
  • And stay tuned as we break down the fixed issues and enhancements in the minor releases for Moodle 3.3.2
    • Keeping up to the latest versions is not always exciting, but it makes sure your site is up to code in all things security.
    • Of course, you might also find some interesting new feature that will improve your Moodle experience in some way.
    • There’s also updates to active versions Moodle 3.2.5 and 3.1.8 coming along.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Dive Deeper On

The Latest

The eLearn Podcast

Connected Conference OpenLMS

--- Advertisement ---

Post Pages - Sidebar 4 - CourseMerchant

--- Advertisement ---

Post Pages - Sidebar 7 - Titus Learning

--- Advertisement ---

Post Pages - Sidebar 5 - Edwiser (RemUI)

Subscribe to our newsletter

Education technology has the power to change lives. 

To get the latest news, information and resources about online learning from around the world by clicking on the button below.