LWMN008: Week of September 18th | Moodle as a humanitarian technology, Applied cognitive computing, Online learning team collaboration

The last week in moodlenews 18 SEP 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 September 18th, 2017. This week I’ll be covering Moodle as a humanitarian technology, Applied cognitive computing, Online learning team collaboration 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

    • Right on schedule, the minor releases of active versions of Moodle are now available for download or upgrade. Improvements to the new course overview and collapsible navigation bar are some of the more visible features in Moodle 3.3.2.
    • Even though this time there were no critical vulnerabilities identified, it’s always a good idea to keep your Moodle up to date with the latest release.
    • If that’s not possible, no worries. Moodle always offers a Long Term Support Version, Moodle 3.1 in this case, where security updates are available for three years.
  • Next, Join the accessible course design MOOC by Blackboard this fall
    • In order to prepare for the MOOC, Blackboard ran a trial with some special guests, including a few prominent Moodlers.
    • The topics in the trial discussed modern accessibility standards, assistive technologies, and dealing with increasing expectations for inclusiveness in online education.
    • The first session of the MOOC is open to the public and begins October 16th.
  • Finally, Get started with design patterns in online education
    • According to Ahmad Mikati from Arab Open University, a design pattern is a tool where you document the changes in content and form for your class as it progresses.
    • In the case of MOOCs, teachers have a tendency to keep the course intact until it’s over, possibly because they think it would make them look unprofessional. But in fact, implementing feedback quickly is seen very favorably by online students.
    • Check out Mikati’s presentation, and all the links to stories and resources mentioned in this episode, at


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

  • Would you consider Moodle a ‘humanitarian’ technology?
    • Surprisingly often, I come across news about Moodle being applied as a solution or part of a program to help address some of the most challenging global issues.
    • And, when we look at the bigger picture, it’s clear that education is a core global issue. Enrollment in primary education and adult literacy are a part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Check out these wonderful examples of Moodle being used as a tool for the greater good:
  • But we can also “flip” the scenario. If you are an expert Moodler, be it a developer, designer or educator, here are three ways you could use your skills to help other people.
    • First: just look at the charities in your area. Chances are they could use some quality help in educational technologies.
    • Second: If you’re a coder, look into Devs Without Borders. It is an international community of open source developers dedicated to spreading sustainable technological solutions.
    • Finally, as I record this, hurricane recovery efforts continue in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean. Wouldn’t it be great to hear stories about Moodlers helping out? We should expect a few in the upcoming MoodleMoot US Miami this November.

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.

  • Cognitive Computing has officially set foot in the classroom.
    • This week, IBM is launching Teacher Advisor, based on its proprietary Watson artificial intelligence engine.
    • After millions of hours of feedback by more than one thousand teachers, Watson is now able to select and target resources for mathematical teaching for students K-12.
    • This is not only an important leap in personalized learning. Teacher Advisor creates lessons through techniques that are constantly innovating, while making sure they meet educational standards.
  • While Teacher Advisor is definitely a remarkable technological aid, it has started to raise the inevitable question about when AI will start to replace teachers.
    • Well, according to a top UK college master, in about 10 years. While he did not remove tutors out of the equation, he believes “the essential job of instilling knowledge into young minds will wholly be done by artificially intelligence,” in the next decade, according to The Independent.
    • But whether or not this prediction pans out, at least we know it won’t be Teacher Advisor. The dashboard is specifically designed to help teachers build lessons with resources, activities and academic standards.
    • And, even though most of you listening probably know, it’s worth repeating that Moodle is meant to be as a tool to empower teachers, not replace them.
  • If you want to check IBM’s AI out, go to
    • In my first run around Teacher Advisor, I confirmed the academic guidelines in place are the Common Core Standards.
    • I also found it interesting that the resources made available on the platform have been provided by some of the leading providers of Open Educational Resources.
    • Currently the portfolio is limited to mathematics lessons and resources in K-5, but more grades and subject would be coming soon.


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

  • Are you part of a learning design team? Is it by any chance partially or fully online? We want to know more about you!
    • We often focus on organizations and districts working with students in face-to-face or blended learning. The reality is that new models of learning and delivering educational content continue to evolve on the internet.
    • The volume of short-term projects led by multi-disciplinary and multi-national teams, is quite hard to estimate. Searches on freelancing sites or request for proposals by organizations suggest “contract-based Moodling” is in high demand.
    • This time, we want to focus on the teams. While there are lots of stable agencies, I suspect plenty of teams are quite short-lived. If you have an interesting story about online freelancing in Moodle, drop us a line!
  • Let’s take a look at three good ideas that could make your online Moodle collaboration better:
    • #1: The new authentication options in Moodle lets you log in using your Microsoft, Google or Dropbox account, and connect your files online to the site. This means you can upload files to Moodle that have been already shared with your team elsewhere.
    • #2: POET, an advocacy group for open EdTech, has developed the “Slack message processor”, which lets team members receive notifications from Moodle activities in their channel inside the popular collaboration app.
    • #3: For more technical teams, the version control model to keep track of changes in software, has been successfully applied to other fields, such as writing. GitHub, the most popular version control system out there, has also released GitHub classroom, for teams who teach programming or computer science basics to their students.
  • And looking at things down the road, I can think of a few ways in which Moodle could turn into a tool to support the personal career development of freelancers.
    • If you are a learning educational consultant, what better way to showcase your skills than with your very own course? Imagine telling your prospective clients, “Welcome to my Moodle”?
    • For personal and team portfolios, I have to mention Mahara. It’s an open source multimedia portfolio solution built around the idea of “smart evidence”, and it plays very nicely with Moodle.
    • Of course, our team at MoodleNews isn’t omniscient. Have you found an interesting insight about making online collaboration work? Or a hidden technological gem that deserves more awareness? Perhaps its something you’re creating? Let us know at [email protected]


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

  • First, Google Summer of Code 2017 is over, and it has good new for Moodle Mobile!
    • Early this year Google selected Diwakar Moturu, an IT Bachelor student from India, and his project, “Improve End-to-End Testing in the Mobile App”.
    • Throughout the summer, Google helped him with support and networking to make the project better and learn new skills. On the LMS side, Juan Leyva from Moodle HQ was Diwakar’s mentor over the course of the project.
    • Read our story to see where the project stands today.
  • Next, Moodle’s usability research continues, and once again, it could use your help.
    • In what could be “phase three” of the study, Moodle HQ is looking for English-speaking users with familiarity with the LMS.
    • In this session, you will be asked to perform some tasks on Moodle while a member of the research team records your screen. You might also get asked a few questions about your experience with Moodle.
    • The study ends on Wednesday, September 20th. Sign up now at
  • Finally, we review the Australian Digital Inclusion Index, 2017 edition.
    • As the universe of smartphone and mobile apps continues to boom, more and more resources are invested into capturing eyeballs trained on these technologies.
    • However, in Australia, some 3 million people do not have access to the internet. And, in 2015 it was estimated that 4.4 billion people globally did not have regular access.
    • The implications for educational technologies seem clear, but they are more nuanced than we might think. It’s important to be aware of the issues to keep this “digital inequality” from growing ever greater.

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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