LWMN012: EdTech Predictions Season, Analytics for Course Design, and a Moodle Text Filters Primer | Week of October 16th, 2017

The last week in moodlenews 16 OCT 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 October 16th, 2017. In this episode, I’ll be covering the Learning Technologies Predictions Season, Analytics for Course Design, a Primer on Text Filters in Moodle, and much more.

Before we get started, a quick reminder share this show a fellow Moodler or a colleague or friend who is interested in edtech or innovation. All you have to do is use the sharing options on whatever podcast player you’re using right now. You can also find these episodes on our twitter feed at MoodleNews or on

And, finally, as usual, 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

  • Moodle gets six million Australian dollars as investment from Education for the Many.
    • The investment came from a private French-based investment company called Education for the Many.
    • The investment will allow Moodle to accelerate growth, dive into new exciting initiatives, and remain a global leader in open education.
    • We’re listening closing to learn how this will affect Moodle HQ in both the short and long runs.
  • We also reported on the feud between open source advocate the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the World Wide Web Consortium, which sets the rules of the internet.
    • The reason behind the dispute involves the EME specification that now let providers to restrict access and sharing of content right from your browser, which in EFF’s view goes against the principles of open web and user control.
    • How does it affect Moodle? Well, the growing support for open technology and open educational resources suggest us Moodlers will remain safe for the time being, but we have to remain vigilant.
    • In other open source news, we shared the technologies that received half a billion dollars in support by the Mozilla foundation, and why the open technology Apache Struts was involved but not responsible for the massive Equifax data breach.
  • Finally, check out more than twenty recently launched or updated plugins in our October roundup.
    • You can look into Metadata, by Mike Churchward, which lets you add extra information tags about courses and students. If you are an educational researcher, it might give you a whole new dataset for variables and correlations.
    • While most of the plugins are free, the Moodleverse is aware that plugin development can be a legitimate business. As long as they are valuable to you, it’s okay to pay for licensing, or support “donationware.”
    • So check out our reviews of plugins for bulk file download, personalized text filters, a new plagiarism checker, a new media player, a countdown clock, and even advanced PHP Opcache management.

Find these stories, all the links mentioned in this episode, resources and more at


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

Prediction season has officially started. Publications and marketing research companies are starting to release their top-ten lists with their bets on what is and will become the new normal.

  • To get us started, we have the Top Two-Hundred Tools for Learning by the Center for Learning and Performance Technologies, 2017 edition.
    • You can check out our “C4LPT” coverage in past years, where Moodle remains a staple of EdTech used by the over two thousand learning professionals from fifty-two countries who answered Jane Hart’s survey.
    • This year, the number one LMS shows up in the thirty-fifth place in the general list, down eight spots; and down six in the “Education” category. Specialized EdTech above Moodle include Articulate, Kahoot, Coursera and EasyGenerator.
    • The list is topped by general-purpose tools such as YouTube, Google, PowerPoint and more Google with Docs and Drive, which are also first in the “Education” category.
  • Another relevant list, although more broadly focused on “strategic technology,” comes from the market research company Gartner.
    • Number one? AI. Gartner believes its pace of progress, growing competition and clear applications, deserves the top spot. They expect “nearly every app” to come with some form of AI, which will create as many millions of jobs as it will destroy.
    • Some concoctions found on the list include, “intelligent things,” “digital twins,” and “cloud to the edge.” They also expect cybersecurity to become a harder and more expensive problem for everyone over the next five years.
    • A particularly interesting trend is “augmented analytics,” where information systems like the LMS can get data from additional sources such asInternet of Things devices, which they expect to be ninety-five percent of all new electronics by 2020.
  • Finally, LinkedIn Learning just released its “Twenty Seventeen Workplace Learning Report,” the first of its kind, based on five hundred responses from learning and development professionals in high-level roles across the US and Canada.
    • The number one trend is “Talent Development.” Sixty-eight percent say talent is their organization’s top priority, and twenty-seven percent expect increased investment budgets in this area.
    • A concern expected to intensify within the next year involves the value of corporate learning and obtaining ROIs or similar concrete measures of impact in the business.
    • The skills in which organizations invest the most are related to leadership, which covers coaching, communication, and teamwork. They are followed by “soft skills,” customer service, compliance training and project management.

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.

If you are still looking for a reason to get into learning data analytics, the presentation given by John Whitmer, Blackboard’s Director for Analytics and Research, at MoodleMoot New Orleans could be it.

  • We often think of analytics as a way to identify students at risk of getting a low grade or dropping out. But what if we use data to prevent these risks in the first place?
    • That was one of the first questions that motivated “Dr. John” and his team to start looking into the power of analytics for course design, so they could learn from past data to create the next generation of great courses.
    • He wants us to imagine an LMS where any critical decision, from the layout to the pacing and flow of the course, can be supported by data, just like the best websites and apps do it today.
    • Plus, with the growing interest of analytics, it gets easier to get started and find more powerful tools that are easy to use.
  • Now, let’s slow down for a minute. I know some of you listening might find Dr. John a bit overly optimistic. And it is true that not many of us have the resources and the massive amounts of data that Blackboard has. Still, there are some ideas inspired by his research that you can use right now.
    • First, try to think about the way you use Moodle or your LMS in one of the four goals he proposes: as a simple support for files, social interaction, assessment-based, or “holistic” and deeply integrated with your teaching.
    • Secondly, don’t be afraid to try new things and ask for support, whether on your organization or the community. The Moodle Forums are always a great resource for expert advice.
    • Finally, stay on the loop about the latest in analytics and big data applied to learning. At least for the time being, Blackboard and other companies continue to support the Open Source community, with resources, technology, research and data that we can use to enhance our teaching.
  • In any case, one thing is certain: getting the most out of data takes personal investment and perseverance before you start to realize results.
    • Which is why some institutional or community support can make a big difference and promoting a culture of analytics is a topic we cover continuously at
    • I also think it’s important to highlight the value of becoming more acquainted with Data Science, even on an academic level. Data-related skills can help in any field, and demand for them continues to soar.
    • This is also an invitation to companies and startups who build analytics products, to make sure your solutions encourage educators to ask more relevant and specific questions. Just like analytics can help learning design, it can also help the learning analytics products themselves.


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

I have to admit that I am a little biased. Specifically, we love Moodle Text Filters at MoodleNews and cannot stop recommending them.

  • Text Filters are simple tools that recognize combinations of characters whenever you have access to a text editor in Moodle, and add functionality as soon as you save your changes.
    • They can do simple tasks, like adding links to other parts of Moodle, or more sophisticated embedding of rich content, from videos to equations, to all kinds of fantastic and crazy functions.
    • Moodle comes with more than a dozen filters out of the box, for emojis, links on words to its Glossary entry if there is one, or conversion of TeX notation into math equations.
    • But to get the most out of them, you have to check out the text filters section in the Moodle Plugin Directory.
  • Here are three clear advantages of enabling and using filters in Moodle.
    • #1: Text filters let you add content anywhere in Moodle where a text box is enabled, not only on course activities. This include descriptions of courses and sections, and even the headers and footers in some themes.
    • #2: Unlike activities, where you can only have one type on the page, you can use text filters to add lots of content in the same page. Of course, you can enable and disable them for all user roles or specific ones.
    • And #3: Text filters are lighter than plugins, which means you can add lots of them before they start compromising the performance of your site.
  • To get a complete list, head down to and select “Text Filters” in the Plugin Type dropdown menu.


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

  • While we continue to unpack the videos from MoodleMoot New Orleans, a massive set of presentations from the recent MoodleMoot Australia is available.
    • More than fifty presentations covering pretty much everything about Moodle are now at your fingertips.
    • Case studies, theory and research, practical applications, and even talks given by Moodle HQ engineers are part of the package.
    • Stay tuned for our review, as we try our best to make sense of everything and help you find the insight you’re really interested in.
  • Also, Mister Moodle is back, right on time to address an unsatisfied customer.
    • William Mano from Brazil ask: Why is Moodle so slow to implement new things?
    • We’ll try to give some perspective about what it takes to launch a Moodle update every two months and what it would take if Moodle wanted to speed up the rate of updates.
    • Does everything go perfectly at Moodle HQ? Definitely not. In fact, just a few days ago there were some announcements about new approaches to Moodle development. But as an open source project, there’s many ways in which Mano, and you, can help make it better.
  • Finally, we join the Nobel Prize party to give you a little “nudge” of how behavioral economics is applied in the development of EdTech and instructional design, and how you can too!
    • The 2017 Nobel Prize in economics has been awarded to Richard Thaler, who in addition to his academic research has also published best-sellers with names as imaginative as “Nudge,” and more recently, “Snags.”
    • We’ll explain how simple and powerful behavioral economics can be in Moodle and EdTech design. Making small changes on how you present problems to your students can have surprising results in the way the approach them.

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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