LWMN014: Moodle Reports Primer, Meta-Cognitive Training, LMS Governance | Week of October 30th, 2017

The last week in moodlenews 30 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 30th, 2017. In this episode, I’ll be discussing a primer on Moodle Reports, recent research on Meta-Cognitive Training, the new meaning of Governance in LMS and much, much more.

Before we get started, a quick reminder share this show with a fellow Moodler or a colleague or friend who is interested in edtech or innovation. 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

  • Online education is the new normal in Canadian colleges and universities
    • That is the conclusion of 2017 report recently released by the National Survey of Online and Distance Education in Canadian Post-Secondary Education.
    • According to the survey, 85% of higher ed institutions offer online courses, and about one hundred of them already have fully online programs. Administration, Art, Science and Education are the most popular fields for both courses and programs.
    • Go to for more about the tools and strategies they use the most, and more details about the methodology of the survey.
  • A MoodleMoot Australia 2017 Wishlist
    • 22 features voted on by participants, and maybe some of our listeners, made the cut in the latest live document set out by Martin Dougiamas, creator of Moodle.
    • Without a doubt, the most popular requests were enhancements to the Lesson Activity, which is designed to direct the way students go through class content according to their answers.
    • Other popular requests include a course making wizard, editing course dates from the same page and “De-clunking” the Moodle Workshop Activity.
  • And, finally, we give you a taste of the most influential research in learning and EdTech this month
    • There are currently close to 200 peer-reviewed journals related to education technologies. Every month, we try to identify promising topics that have a good chance to be part of your classroom in the near future.
    • This month, we find an interesting approach to “Affordances” as a way to enhance the relationship of users with LMS and we stumbled upon the idea of “Retrospective Cognitive Feedback,” which is a lot simpler than it sounds.
    • But above all, perhaps the most timely research comes from the Educational Research Review, one of the most cited publications in our field. It focuses on the key critical challenges faced by Blended Learning today, which include “affectiveness of the learning climate” and how to deliver on real student autonomy.

Find these stories, and all the links mentioned in this episode at, and if you’re looking for more information and resources, send us an email, a comment or a tweet.


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

Recent research about the effects of “meta-cognitive training” published in the Journal of Chemical Education has shed some light on a problem we all have – estimating our real skills.

Now, this is a particularly tricky issue to talk about, because there is usually a gap between our own idea about how good or bad we are, and our actual skills.

  • But the interesting thing to me is that when we try to compensate for this uncertainty, everyone has their own answer!
    • Sometimes we might feel that what we know is more than enough to get something done, or that we have no idea what we’re doing, or anywhere in between.
    • If you work with learners, you might have noticed a weird phenomenon: the kids who work the hardest are typically preoccupied about grades, while the less studious seem to go through it all without a care in the world.
    • This phenomenon is the subject of research back in 1999 with the awesome name of “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments,” by Dunning and Kruger.
  • If you think about it, this is something fairly simple to track. Try to remember the last time you had an examination. Now, imagine that you just finished and right outside the room you have to answer three questions:
    • Question one: How good are you, in general, compared to your peers? Do you think you are better than average, in the top ten percent, or are you part of the one percent?
    • Question two: How good did you do just now, compared to your peers?
    • Question three: How many of the questions you answered correctly? What will be your grade in this test?
  • Well, no matter how big the difference is between your skills and your idea of it, meta-cognition has you covered.
    • Basically, meta-cognition is taking these questions about how good or bad students think they are and making them part of a study planning process. You might find students overestimating themselves, like Dunning and Kruger did, or you might wind up with more than a few who underestimate their abilities.
    • Keep in mind the original Dunning and Kruger research was done with 45 Cornell psychology undergraduates. This year, it was chemistry undergraduates, who also saw higher grades overall thanks to meta-cognitive training.
    • And if these questions about skill and self-confidence are interesting to you, why not do them in Moodle? You can use the Certainty Based Marking tool to measure and, if you want to, penalize overconfidence.

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 dive in-depth into one of the most interesting topics happening in the Moodle community over the past week.

Hopefully by now you understand feedback is critical if you want to do your job better, and you also work on how to give and receive better feedback. But what happens when we are in charge of handling the voice of hundreds or thousands of users?

  • This has been a constant concern of Martin Dulberg. He’s the Senior Coordinator of Learning Technologies at North Carolina State.
    • As he was looking into the ways Moodle could offer a better experience to all its users, across all roles and personalities, he realized the importance of “LMS Governance”.
    • We generally understand governance as a series of policies and roles that makes a system works properly. The idea of governance evolved substantially, and today its focus is concentrated on people. In Moodle and all LMS, a big challenge is helping users feel represented within a system.
    • Over the past 3 years, Martin has shared his thoughts and experiences in Moodle Governance at the MoodleMoots. Back in 2015, we reported on one of the firsts in his many great discoveries: When users start to complain about Moodle, it’s a bit of a good sign. It means they are beginning to feel invested.
  • Flash forward to today, and Dulberg continues his quest to convince us all that “LMS Governance is important.”
    • One of his strategies is to make us “update” what we understand by governance. It has to do, of course, with sensible management of resources, but also with handling user needs and preferences in a way that’s both responsive and inclusive.
    • Making sure the LMS can quickly reflect the feedback from their users is not only good practice in usability. Being transparent and responsive is a perfect way to prevent “armchair critics” among your users.
    • We’ve covered the topic of feedback in Moodle many times. From design patterns to talks, you’ll find ideas, tips and tools to improve the ways to give and get feedback in Moodle in our archives.
  • So if you’re looking to step up the governance for your LMS, Dulberg has three bits of advice for you:
    • #1: In an ideal world, you would be able to demand high quality feedback. But short of that, just try to make an honest point about the importance of feedback from every user as persuasively and persistently as possible.
    • #2: Make sure you “close the feedback” loop. Make sure people see their input reflected in the technology, or at least help them feel heard even if their requests are not feasible for the time being.
    • #3: Proactivity comes a long way. Try to encourage feedback, even if sometimes they take the form of complaints. What matter is how you respond to them. Don’t be afraid to rethink and step back on new features, and allow as many feedback channels as you can.


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

This week I want to give you a quick taste of the Moodle Course Reports. It’s somewhat hidden in the option menus, but when you find it, there’s a decent chance that you’ll become an instant fan.

  • Clicking the gear icon for the settings of your course, right next to the title, will open a menu. The last option, the only that just says “More…” will open a full page of settings. Scroll down to find the Reports section, with links to all kinds of information about how your students use Moodle.
    • In a standard Moodle installation, you can find many options for reviewing logs and statistics. Site admins can enable more reports that come with Moodle, and even more options are available through plugins.
    • The most basic reports available to all are the Moodle Logs, which show everything every student has ever done since they were first active on the course. It offers some ways to filter and search for specific interactions, but even then it could be a little overwhelming.
    • But don’t take my word for it. Pay the Reports section a visit to see what your students have been up to. And if you find something worth looking into, give us a shout!
  • A great way to make the data more valuable and useful is by enabling automatic Activity Completion in Moodle.
    • Not only does it give you more clarity about how and when your students finish their work, it enables a checklist for students, and in Moodle 3.3, it activates the new graphical interface of the Course Overview that shows them their progress.
    • Some of the things you can track with course completion are whether students have seen an announcement, or if they have attempted a Quiz.
    • These are available on the “Course participation” and “Activity completion” links from the list of Reports. Even though the pages are similar to the Logs, the options are more precise and related to the specific activities that you have created for the course.
  • If you want to get more out of the data that Moodle generates from your students, here are some ideas:
    • A neat set of data is available if you set up Competency Based Education in your courses or programs. The “Competency breakdown report” shows you if student performance is “satisfactory” for each one of the competencies where they are being measured.
    • In Moodle 3.3., the “Course participation” link also lets you turn information about student behavior into quick action. For instance, you can send messages only to students who have not successfully completed a certain activity.
    • Finally, consider sharing your student behavior data for research purposes. Project Inspire always welcomes more anonymous datasets to increase the power of predictions of everyone. Starting in Moodle 3.4, Inspire prediction will come right in the core.


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

  • IntelliBoard has become a “Moodle Premium Integrator”
    • Premium Integrators work closely with Moodle to offer quality services within Moodle guaranteed to work seamlessly. To date, the only Premium Integrators are IntelliBoard and BlindSide Networks.
    • IntelliBoard is an analytics company, best known for its Reporting and Analytics tool. You can try the integration out at
    • Full disclosure: IntelliBoard is one of the sponsors of MoodleNews.
  • Also, we take a look at some strange, quirky or bizarre uses of Moodle.
    • British Moodler and MoodleMoot regular Lewis Carr talks about his experience setting up a Moodle site to homeschool his very young kids.
    • How did it go? I’ll just quote his blog update: “My enthusiasm for Moodle has been ignited again.”
    • But we also came across other “unorthodox” uses of Moodle, from freelance consulting to, well, no spoilers!
  • Finally, we bring you up to speed with some of the best Moodle tips and tricks
    • For a few weeks now, the official Moodle blog has released a series of short guides that will show you how to make the best of some of Moodle’s favorite plugins.
    • Some of them include Checklist, Quizventure, Gapfill and RecordRTC.
    • You can also wait until January to get them in MOOC form, with the “Learn Moodle 3.4 Basics” course. Sign up now at

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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