Moodle: Liberal Arts Edition (LAE)

Moodle is a complex piece of software meant to serve many types of organizations, including elementary, secondary, and higher education institutions. The Moodle: Liberal Arts Edition (LAE) is a Moodle distribution that addresses issues specific to small liberal arts colleges and universities.

The Liberal Arts Edition hews very closely to core Moodle. It includes bug fixes, enhancements, and a suite of plugins which our member schools find useful and does not represent a major fork of the core code. The LAE is meant as a drop-in replacement for standard Moodle and is designed with the expectation that it could be swapped out for the equivalent standard Moodle release at any time.

CLAMP closely follows Moodle HQ’s release schedule for Moodle, with our LAE releases following core releases by about a week.

Guiding Philosophy

CLAMP’s philosophy when it comes to adding to the Liberal Arts Edition is simple: try and get the bug fix or enhancement into standard Moodle first.

Bug Fixes: All of our bug fixes and interface tweaks are contributed back to Moodle core via Tracker, with CLAMP’s developers and instructional technologists working together to explain why a change is needed. It’s only when that fix or enhancement isn’t accepted, or proves to be only of use to liberal arts colleges, that we consider folding it into the Liberal Arts Edition.

Enhancements: Small liberal arts colleges often have common needs unique to their environment. We identify best-of-breed solutions to these problems or develops them ourselves and then add them to the Liberal Arts Edition. We are exceedingly conservative when adding new features; we want focused additions to the code, not a hodgepodge of solutions that are incompatible with standard Moodle.

All of our code is released under the same GNU Public License as standard Moodle. The LAE is offered “as is”, with no warranty. The institutions that comprise CLAMP have done their best to test this code, but we offer it strictly as a convenience to our members.

Questions about the LAE can be sent to info@clamp-it.org.

Overview of the Liberal Arts Edition

Moodle consists of the core Moodle release plus a number of CLAMP-developed features and bug fixes.

CLAMP-developed features

Anonymous Forums: A completely new version of the Anonymous Forums option in Moodle. This version introduces a new “Anonymous User” who is attached to forum posts, allowing faculty to backup and restore a forum without losing anonymity. This feature is disabled by default.

Auto-creation of groupings for groups: This feature creates a grouping for each group in a course. This feature is disabled by default; you must enable the Experimental “Group Members Only” setting to use this feature.

Improved metacourse UI: This is an implementation of https://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-27628. There is a new interface for adding and removing multiple course meta link enrollment methods (metacourses), with an AJAX search interface.

Per-course resource display options: You may choose a default resource display option at the course level now instead of at the site-level.

Contributed modules

CLAMP recommends the following contributed modules. If you have downloaded the “Package” version of the LAE then these modules are already available.

Filtered Course List: This block allows you to list a current term and a future term’s courses first, based on whatever term-based naming convention you use in your Moodle courses’ shortname field (e.g. FA11, SP12). It also allows you to specify a course category instead.”

OU Dates Report: This course report, developed by Tim Hunt at the Open University, allows teachers to quickly edit date-aware items in course modules such as quizzes and assignments.

Quickmail: A block used to quickly send emails to members of a class, replicating similar functionality found in other learning management systems. This version is forked from the Quickmail currently maintained by Louisiana State University. This functionality is now delivered by “CLAMPMail” (block_clampmail). For full details please see http://www.clamp-it.org/blog/2014/01/20/the-state-of-quickmail/.

Roster Report: A course report which displays the user pictures for everyone enrolled in a course.

News Forum: This local module creates a news forum on course creation. It resolves the issue described in https://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-26707.

Ad-hoc database queries (customsql): This report plugin, developed by Tim Hunt at the Open University, allows Administrators to set up arbitrary database queries to act as ad-hoc reports.

Getting the Liberal Arts Edition

You can get the LAE in two ways:

  1. Download the tar and zip packages from the CLAMP web site
  2. Download the current release branch from the CLAMP code repository

Additional information about installing and upgrading the LAE can be found in the release notes for each version.

How to Contribute

CLAMP welcomes contributions to the Liberal Arts Edition, which can be submitted using our Code Intake Form. Submissions are reviewed by the project’s web developers to ensure they adhere to Moodle and CLAMP’s code standards. Once passing code review, the proposed code is tested by participants at Moodle Hack/Doc Fest, who decide on whether it should be incorporated into the LAE.