Author: Ken Newquist

Hack/Doc at Lafayette: Day 1

The glass-fronted windows of Skillman Library reflect the evening light.
Skillman Library at Lafayette College. Credit: Ken Newquist

At Day 1 of Moodle Hack/Doc Fest we got down to work testing messaging and notification in Moodle 3.2, discussing CLAMP’s future approaches to documentation, reviewing H5P, and learning about changes to the Filtered Course list plugin.

The group began testing messaging and notifications in Moodle 3.2. We determined that the new interface is cleaner than the old one, and the use of a red dot to indicate when there are updates for the user (e.g. notifications, messages) is more obvious in 3.2 than in previous versions of Moodle. We learned that notifications from Moodle activities require cron to be running, and likely running at the recommended once-per-minute rate to be useful.

Several attendees huddled regarding CLAMP’s approach to documentation going forward and sense was that we want to move toward crafting documentation and scripts that could easily be used at CLAMP schools. This information could be written in Markdown and made available in some sort of online repository — e.g. github — but we haven’t determined the specifics yet. CLAMP would still contribute and update documentation on MoodleDocs as appropriate.

The developers got together to discuss the future of CLAMP’s development server, which is currently a physical machine residing at one of the CLAMP institutions. Going forward we are going to look at moving the development instance to a cloud-based hosting solution which would free us from the need to maintain our own hardware.

Attendees at Hack/Doc sit around a U-shaped table while a male presenter talks. A small Yellow Labrador puppy is laying down in the foreground.
Jason Simms (Lafayette College) talks about H5P on Day 1 of Moodle Hack/Doc Fest. Hank, a Seeing Eye dog in training, attended the presentation. Credit: Ken Newquist.

Over lunch Kevin Wiliarty (Hampshire College) did a presentation of Filtered Course List 3.0, which adds a lot of flexibility to the plugin, but adds a steeper learning curve for Moodle admins. After Kevin’s presentation, Jason Simms (Lafayette College) did a high-level rundown of H5P, which is an HTML5-based alternative to Flash that can be used to create rich web content such as videos, images, quizzes, charges, collages, documentation tools, finding the hot spot, guessing answers, etc. With the H5P plugin installed in Moodle, that content can then be embedded in courses. The HP5 website includes tutorials for content creators.

Other work included:

  • Integrating Moodle 3.2 into the Moodle Liberal Arts Edition.
  • Initial testing of the Boost theme in Moodle 3.2.
  • Extending a Moodle-to-Banner grades extract tool.

Posts from Moodle Hack/Doc Fest, Winter 2017 at Lafayette College: Homepage | Sprint | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Hack/Doc at Lafayette: The Sprint Day

Bookshelves full of books frame the left and right sides of the photo.
The bookshelves in Skillman Library, the location of Moodle Hack/Doc Fest at Lafayette College. Credit: Ken Newquist.

HP5, PoodLL, Moodle Messaging and navigation/theme improvements to Moodle 3.2 are among the topics that CLAMP queued up at during the sprint day for Moodle Hack/Doc Fest, Winter 2017.

The biannual Hack/Doc is being held at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. The event kicked off on Monday, January 9, 2017 with the sprint day. The event runs through Thursday, January 12, 2017. The following tasks are queued up for Hack/Doc:

  • Review Theme and Navigation Project 3.2 (including the Boost theme)
  • Review Messaging and Notifications Overhaul
  • Review Custom Guided Tours / Tutorials with an eye toward using it for a guided tour of the Liberal Arts Edition
  • Review the current status of the PDF converter and viewer for Moodle assignments.
  • Work on Smith College’s tool for generating a CSV for exporting grades to Banner
  • Look at H5P for streaming media within Moodle.
  • Look at PoodLL for audio/video recording in Moodle.
  • Revisit Moodle Mobile

In addition, we are kicking around a number of group discussions:

  • How do you do course creation? (templating, block layout, etc.)
  • Viability and interest in extending Scheduler to allow for instance-wide scheduling.
  • Discussion best practices for course templates
  • How do school’s organize help documentation (include video and screenshots, where is it stored). Consider what role CLAMP should have in terms of documentation, best practices, hardware/software/platform recommendations, etc.
  • Course design principles, which will include accessibility decisions
  • How do you present courses from multiple semesters to faculty and students?
  • How do you convey to faculty (and students) changes to Moodle or simply to showcase key features whether they’re new features (e.g., PoodLL or Turnitin integration) or features one might find helpful to revisit (e.g., glossary)?
  • Are folks conducting usability testing? If so, what’s your setup and what have you tested? If not, why not?

Posts from Moodle Hack/Doc Fest, Winter 2017 at Lafayette College: Homepage | Sprint | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Moodle Webinar Series Kicks Off October 27, 2016

“Moodle Forums and Groups” will be the first topic of CLAMP’s new Moodle webinar series when it debuts at 11:30 a.m. (EDT), October 27 on Zoom ( The topic will be presented by Katieann Skogsberg, Associate Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at Centre College.

Future sessions will consist of a faculty member presenting a 20-ish minute session about a particular method or tool they utilize within Moodle for their teaching. Faculty from each of the 30+ CLAMP schools are invited to lead these sessions as we continue with the series.

Each of session will be broadcast live via Zoom for participants at other schools to watch synchronously and hopefully gather faculty for discussion after the presentation. Sessions will also be recorded for those who cannot make the live session, and posted on the CLAMP YouTube channel. Our hope is that members of the CLAMP community are able to schedule a shared viewing of these presentations, whether live or recorded, with members of their own faculty to use as a springboard for discussion of how the presented material could be used at each of your respective institutions.

Announcing Moodle Hack/Doc Fest, Winter 2017

Moodle Hack/Doc Fest, Winter 2017 will be held Tuesday, January 10 through Thursday, January 12, 2017 at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. A pre-Hack/Doc documentation and coding sprint will be held Monday, January 9, 2017. Lafayette also hosted Hack/doc in Winter 2007 and Winter 2010.

The lodging deadline is Thursday, December 1, 2016. The registration deadline is Friday, Dec 16, 2016.

Moodle & Accessibility Brown Bag on July 26, 2016

Join us for a Moodle and Accessibility Brown Bag on July 26 from 12 p.m.-1 p.m. EDT. The event is free and available online using the Zoom video conferencing software.

During the brown bag Ken Newquist (Lafayette College) and Jedidiah Rex (Beloit College) be discussing best practices for designing usable, accessible courses in Moodle. They will be showcasing a badly-designed, inaccessible, scroll-of-death style course that was created at Moodle Hack/Doc Fest at Butler University in June 2016. They’ll then walk through several improved versions of that course.

They will have a brief Q&A between each course so participants can discuss their own problematic courses, best practices, and brainstorm other solutions to the usability and accessibility issues in the example course.

The brown bag will conclude with a discussion of possible next steps regarding Moodle usability and accessibility within the CLAMP community.

The presentation will be given using Zoom. Register for the brown bag using this link:

Note that Zoom does require you to download software to your computer; if you haven’t used Zoom you may want to allocate time to download the software prior to the meeting.