Author: Charles Fulton

New Moodle LAE Releases for May 2020

There are four new Moodle: Liberal Arts Edition releases. There are no new LAE features; these are maintenance releases only. You can download the updates from the CLAMP code release archive.

The next stable releases are scheduled for mid-July. We expect Moodle HQ to release Moodle 3.9 in a few weeks; CLAMP will evaluate it and prepare a beta. Given the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, CLAMP will not host an in-person Hack/Doc Fest this summer. CLAMP evaluated Moodle 3.8 at the Swarthmore College Hack/Doc Fest in January 2020; please see CLAMP’s daily reports for details: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

These releases were developed, packaged, and tested by Kevin Wiliarty (Hampshire College) and Andrew Zito (Lafayette College).

New Moodle LAE Releases for March 2020

There are four new Moodle: Liberal Arts Edition releases. There are no new LAE features; these are maintenance releases only. You can download the updates from the CLAMP code release archive.

The next stable releases are scheduled for mid-May. We expect Moodle HQ to release Moodle 3.9 around that time; CLAMP will evaluate it and prepare a beta. Given the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, CLAMP has not made a decision about whether to host an in-person Hack/Doc Fest this summer. CLAMP evaluated Moodle 3.8 at the Swarthmore College Hack/Doc Fest in January 2020; please see CLAMP’s daily reports for details: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

These releases were developed, packaged, and tested by Kevin Wiliarty (Hampshire College) and Andrew Zito (Lafayette College).

New Moodle LAE Releases for January 2020

There are four new Moodle: Liberal Arts Edition releases. The 3.5, 3.6, and 3.7 releases are maintenance-only. The 3.8 release includes updates to all contributed modules and new features in the CLAMPMail and Filtered Course List blocks and Roster report. You can download the updates from the CLAMP code release archive.

The next stable releases are scheduled for mid-March. CLAMP evaluated Moodle 3.8 at the Swarthmore College Hack/Doc Fest in January 2020; please see CLAMP’s daily reports for details: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

These releases were developed, packaged, and tested by Kevin Wiliarty (Hampshire College) and Andrew Zito (Lafayette College).

Hack/Doc at Swarthmore: Day 3

People sitting around tables
Hack/Docers hard at work in the CLAMP Executive Lounge. Photo credit: Charles Fulton

The last day of Hack/Doc, as usual, was a bit shorter due to attendee travel plans. We wrapped up around lunchtime after some discussions about Moodle 3.8 and accessibility.

Forum grading accessibility

We logged a third and final issue with the new forum grading tool and accessibility: MDL-67663. Again, some of these issues are specific to the tool, which some are broader problems with Moodle itself. We’ll continue to monitor the situation. A major related issue is MDL-64494, where Moodle core is tracking project-wide color contrast issues.

Filescan block

We discussed the future of Swarthmore’s “filescan block“, which evaluates the accessibility of PDFs uploaded to Moodle. Several schools, including Hampshire and Lafayette, have been using the block on their Moodle instances. CLAMP is going to organize a workshop this winter for interested schools to come together to develop a roadmap and implement changes, which an eye toward publishing the plugin on the Moodle plugins repository and incorporating it into the Liberal Arts Edition.

Roster

We have released a new version of the Roster report; you may now configure which fields are displayed for each student, including custom profile fields. This release is available on the Moodle plugins repository and will be incorporated into the next release of the LAE.

And that’s a wrap for this winter’s Hack/Doc at Swarthmore College. Warm thanks to Andrew Reuther and Swarthmore for their outstanding hospitality this week. If your institution is interested in hosting a future CLAMP event, please consider filling out our host interest form.

Hack/Doc at Swarthmore: Day 2

Buildings beneath a blue skyline
View from the top of Singer Hall. Photo credit: Charles Fulton

Work on the task list continued during Day 2 of the Moodle Hack/Doc Fest at Swarthmore College, interrupted only by an expedition to the Solar Lab on the roof of Singer Hall, which provided a commanding view of Swarthmore’s campus and Greater Philadelphia.

From the task list

We continued to work on yesterday’s tasks and added a few new ones:

LTI integrations: Perusall

Perusall is a social annotation platform. Launching from the LTI module in Moodle will place one into a workflow to create their Perusall account on the fly. It’s important to set the launch container to Existing Window or New Window or it won’t work. The default launch container can be edited for the LTI module in the site admin. Student Perusall accounts are created as students use the tool. The tool also automatically creates an entry for the student in the gradebook with a grade of 100. The service is free for those using their own texts (e.g., PDFs or OERs), but texts available through Perusall require payment as does the ability to brand it for one’s institution.

LTI integrations: Google Assignment

Google Assignments allows you to create and share coursework within the LMS using Google Drive. It wasn’t clear if enrollments/permissions are managed dynamically. When creating from LTI, the grades appear in the Moodle gradebook automatically. The question bank is pretty good; other nice features include a plagiarism tool, the ability to grade all and then submit all at once, rubrics, and the ability to convert Word documents and PDFs to Google Docs while preserving the original. One caveat is that Google Assignments created through the LTI will not show up when going to https://assignments.google.com, and vice-versa.

Moodle Mobile app

Following on from yesterday’s equivocal evaluation of the Moodle Mobile app; it’s best to think of the app as a consumption tool and not a creation/editing tool. It’s certainly student-centric while allowing instructors the ability to grade some items. There is no wholesale gradebook access for instructors, but there is for students in the menu item that looks like an analytics logo. It’s important to manage expectations if your institution decides to roll it out.

Moodle 3.8 review

Michael Harris from Bryn Mawr College encountered a problem that, as far as anyone can remember, is unique in the 10+ years of Moodle Hack/Doc Fest: Moodle’s JIRA tracker has a built-in limit which prevents you from reporting more than one new issue per hour! Michael had been meticulously documenting accessibility problems with the new forum grading feature. Two have been reported so far (MDL-67652 and MDL-67655), with more on the way.

The Course Overview block now supports filtering based on, among other fields, custom course fields. For example, you could create a custom course field named “department”, and then allow teachers to filter based on the department in their dashboard.

Course Merger Helper

Courses created with the Course Merge Helper were not receiving all the default course settings unless the school was using the local course template plugin. Examples of incorrect behavior included no sections in the new course, or the gradebook enabled when it should be suppressed. We’ve squashed this bug and released a new version of the plugin.