LWMN013: QA for Moodle 3.4, A ‘STEAMing’ Debate, and LTI to the Max | Week of October 23rd, 2017

The last week in moodlenews 23 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 23rd, 2017. In this episode, I’ll be covering Quality Assurance for Moodle 3.4, a debate about Arts in STEM, an advanced lesson on LTI integration, and much, 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

  • The First Moodle Chatbot is finally upon us!
    • Following our story about the recipe that would make a Moodle chatbot possible, New Zealand Moodler Matthew Porritt surprised the MoodleMoot Australia audience with a first attempt of a text-based, and possibly voice-based assistant.
    • In his presentation, focusing on ways to make Moodle search better for users, he gave a basic example of an assistant that finds resources and matching images.
    • In the not-so-distant future, the chatbot could identify user mood and context to offer appropriate responses.
  • Sign-ups for the January relaunch of the official “Learn Moodle” MOOC are open
    • Per what is now tradition, the semiannual course will provide a Moodle jump start for newbies, and a dive into recent upgrades for seasoned Moodlers.
    • But there’s something special in the name this time. By calling it Learn Moodle 3.4 “Basics, Moodle is opening the possibilities for advanced and specialized courses.
    • Last July, more than 800 students earned the certificate of completion and a Moodle badge. Now it’s your turn! Sign up at
  • Fifty-five presentations from MoodleMoot Australia 2017 are available
    • Now you can read how Moodle played a critical role in World Vision’s response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis, or the Royal Australasian College of Surgeon’s program to address discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment.
    • We organized the presentations in six topics: Analytics, Development, Integrations, Pedagogy, Technology and Testimonies.
    • Check out our spreadsheet, where you can find a presentation by topic, author or organization.

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.

For some time now, there’s been an ongoing discussion about the value of integrating artistic and performance elements into STEM, or Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering, education. But not everyone is on board.

  • In favor of the Arts + STEM camp, also known as STEAM, recent research from North Carolina State was published in the last edition of the Journal of STEM Education.
    • The research focused on dance major students who participated in a STEM master class.
    • Students realized that both Dance and STEM are rigorous fields with many differences but also several similarities. And, both require significant commitments before you begin to internalize the problem-solving mechanisms that are required to excel.
    • But while the study touches a bit on the personal and academic struggles of students looking to make progress in both fields, it does not show clear evidence of Art as a way to promote or enhance the quality of STEM skills.
  • On the opposite corner, we have Jay Greene, director of the National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab at the University of Arkansas at Lafayette, and a recent essay with the stirring title “Arts Integration Is a Sucker’s Game.
    • Dr. Jay declares STEAM “counterproductive and pedagogically unsound,” especially if the goal is to promote artistic sensibilities in students.
    • He fears that by thinking of art as a bonus that can be covered in side projects, institutions put artistic education programs and funding at risk. He asks what would happen if we took away all math classes and instead we “sprinkled” math topics here and there.
    • While he does not believe STEAM advocates have ill intentions at heart, he believes education in the arts should stand on its own. Otherwise, research that finds no evidence that artistic education helps STEM outcomes could open the door to removing arts from schools altogether.
  • So, which is better? One “STEAM Room”, or equal but separate?
    • Perhaps to continue the conversation, we can look into experiences where STEAM is showing evidence of bolstering both sets of skills. One of the best examples I’ve seen actually came in MoodleMoot Australia 2016, with Melissa Silk and her STEAMpop venture which mixes musical theory and electronics for a K-12 audience.
    • If you are interested in finding the right way to do STEAM, support further research and approaches that give both Arts and STEM equal opportunity and focus on synergies, especially at the higher education level or beyond.

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 listening to this podcast as soon as it’s out, it means there are exactly three weeks to go before Moodle 3.4 is available. But this does not mean the work is over.

  • In fact, your input might be needed more than ever, as the “Quality Assurance” version of Moodle 3.4 is ready and Moodle HQ is inviting everyone to become a tester.
    • Quality Assurance is the second-to-last phase for every major version of Moodle, after the last “Coding Sprint” by the engineers at Moodle HQ and before the launch of a “Release Candidate.”
    • At this point in the development a “code freeze” has been declared, meaning nothing new will be developed. Any changes to the code are fixes to issues identified by the testers.
    • For a complete look at the development process of major Moodle releases, check out our previous story about the release of Moodle 3.3.
  • So, if you are interested in becoming a tester – here’s what you have to do:
  • Once Helen activates you as a tester, you will be able to access the over 570 available tests that you can choose and try at
    • During the QA phase, the Moodle core is updated daily, so make sure you complete the test as soon as possible after you choose it.
    • If you have made your contribution, regardless of whether Moodle passed or failed, you will be immortalized in the Moodle Documentation Testing Credits.
    • So happy bug squashing! Only when more than 80% of the tests have been passed successfully, can Moodle 3.4 go forward.


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

Illustrious Moodler Chris Kenniburg from the Dearborn Schools District in Michigan, is sharing a brilliant, simple and practical lesson involving WordPress integration, the Learning Tools Interoperability standard, or LTI; and the development of Open Educational Resources using Pressbooks.

  • Pressbooks is a tool that converts web pages into ebook or PDF files. A free version comes with a Pressbooks watermark on pages.
    • Since Pressbooks offers a WordPress plugin, Chris uses a WordPress site that connects with Moodle activities using LTI, through the LTI Connector plugin.
    • Using Chris’s recipe, teachers can add books made on WordPress as Moodle Activities. Pressbooks lets users download the content in a variety of formats, such as PDF or EPUB.
    • With this process, teachers can make collaborative book projects based on their Moodle activity, that can be published online.
  • So, how can you replicate this at your school or office?
    • All you have to do is create an LTI External tool in Moodle using the Activity menu, and adding information such as URL, username and key provided by the WordPress LTI Connector plugin.
    • You only have to set it up once to connect as many “Pressbooks” as you want. The format and layout of the book can be modified on the Pressbook admin page in WordPress.
    • Once the book is ready, the link opens up a Pressbooks page which shows the content, as well as buttons for the format files that you make available.
  • But wait, there’s more! Chris shows some great ideas with even more tools added to the pot.
    • Before they are exported as book files, Pressbook pages can also include rich media. Chris shows a Pressbook page with games made with the H5P technology for interactive content, and YouTube videos.
    • One of the cool things about LTI is that it handles authentication between sites, so users only have to log in once. However, if you want students to collaborate in the books you’re publishing, Chris suggests you add them as authors to your WordPress site.
    • Finally, for more wise advice by Chris, check out his blog at and his YouTube channel.


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

  • It’s time for a MoodleNews Theme roundup!
    • Moodler Eduardo Kraus gives us “Boost Magnific,” his answer to what would happen if we combined Moodle’s new trademark look with Google’s Material Design.
    • The result is a high-contrast theme simple to customize and that will ring familiar if you’ve used a Google app recently.
    • “Boost Magnific” is the first in a planned trilogy by Eduardo, which is set to include a “Learning”-focused theme and a “Training”-focused theme.
  • Also, news from a new Catalan Moodle Partner
    • Tresipunt, a development agency in Barcelona, Spain, has become the latest official Partner to deliver certified Moodle solutions and support the development of the open source LMS.
    • This makes Tresipunt the fifth Moodle Partner in Spain, and to our knowledge the first one offering official Moodle services in Catalan language.
    • Tresipunt is a member of CatPL, the largest open source network in Catalan, and their current Moodle clients include the government of Catalonia, UOC –the largest public open university in Barcelona–, and Pizza Hut.
  • Finally, we continue our video recap of MoodleMoot US 2017 NOLA and ask, how can Moodle have a higher impact in the world?
    • Some answers might come from Paul Tannahill at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, who states that, aside of vending machines, “real change must come from within.”
    • On the Moodle HQ side, Brent Parking describes a learning design focused on “Social Reconstruction” based on decades of experience across the broadest teaching contexts you can imagine.
    • And to top the discussion, Martin Dulberg from NC State Delta shares his experience on using Moodle to promote good institutional governance.

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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