Author: Sarah Ryder, Hampshire College

Join Us for Moodle Hack/Doc Fest, Summer 2019

CLAMP Moodle Hack/Doc Fest, Summer 2019 will be held Tuesday, June 25 through Thursday, June 27 2019 at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. A pre-Hack/Doc documentation and coding sprint as well as a workshop on LTI applications will be held on Monday, June 24.

The lodging deadline is Wednesday, May 29, 2019. The event registration and travel grant application deadline is Friday, June 7, 2019.

Nominations Open

Nominations are now open for new members of the Steering Committee and this year’s Recognition Awards.

Steering Committee

CLAMP is accepting nominations of member colleges to serve on the Steering Committee; terms are for three years. You need not specify who will represent the college on the committee now, and you can nominate schools other than your own.

The nomination criteria are:

  • The institution must be a four-year liberal arts college or institution.
  • The institution must be a member of CLAMP

Our current steering committee members are: Beloit College, Carleton College, Centre College, Hampshire College, Kenyon College, Smith College, and Wesleyan University.

Beloit College, Centre College, and Kenyon College rotate off the committee this year. The current committee members will choose the three new members based on nominations submitted by the community, with an eye towards maintaining geographical diversity.

The deadline for nominations is May 31, 2019.

Nominate a CLAMP school for steering committee membership »

Recognition Awards

The CLAMP Recognition Awards are awarded annually to one programmer (e.g.; hacker) and one instructional technologist (e.g.; doc’er) to acknowledge outstanding achievement as members of the organization. These achievements include work on Moodle development, Moodle documentation, CLAMP organization and/or recruitment to CLAMP.

In 2018-19, the value of this award is $500. To receive the award, individuals:

  • must be a member of a current CLAMP school
  • can not be currently serving on the steering committee

This year, the the Steering Committee will accept nominations from member schools. Nominations must be submitted by May 31, 2019.

Nominate a CLAMP member for a recognition award »

CLAMP Recognition Award Winners for 2017-18

The CLAMP Steering Committee is proud to announce the 2017-18 winners of the CLAMP Recognition Awards.

Chad Bergeron, Academic Systems Administrator at Brandeis University, is one of those members of the CLAMP community who is consistently willing to help out others. He is a very active participant in the CLAMP Slack workspace and the CLAMP Moodle Exchange forum, where he regularly offers solutions and insights as well as initiating productive discussions with his own requests for assistance.

Kevin Wiliarty, Senior Web Programmer at Hampshire College, has participated in CLAMP since he attended the Furman Hack/Doc in the Winter of 2011. He is a constant source of patient insight on the CLAMP Moodle Exchange and on Slack. He is always willing to share his experience with others and has mentored several developers within CLAMP. When CLAMP has needed help, whether to maintain the Filtered Course List or integrate the Liberal Arts Edition, Kevin has stepped up. CLAMP previously presented this award to Kevin in 2013-2014.

About the Awards

The CLAMP Recognition Awards are awarded annually to one developer (e.g.; hacker) and one instructional technologist (e.g.; doc’er) to acknowledge outstanding achievement as members of the organization. These achievements include work on Moodle development, Moodle documentation, CLAMP organization and/or recruitment to CLAMP.

In 2017-18, the value of this award is $500. Learn more about the awards at

Announcing Moodle Hack/Doc Fest, Winter 2018

Moodle Hack/Doc Fest, Winter 2018 will be held Tuesday, January 9 through Thursday, January 11, 2018 at Centre College in Danville, KY. A pre-Hack/Doc documentation and coding sprint will be held Monday, January 8, 2018.

The lodging deadline is Friday, December 22, 2017. The registration deadline is Friday, December 15, 2017.

Hack/Doc at Hampshire: Day 3

Accessibility discussion with Rob Eveleigh
Accessibility discussion with Rob Eveleigh, Five Colleges, Inc. Accessibility Coordinator. Photo credit: Sarah Ryder

The last day of Hack/Doc, as usual, was a bit shorter due to attendee travel plans. We wrapped up around lunch time after some discussions about Moodle 3.3, Boost, upgrade plans, and accessibility.

Moodle 3.3, Boost, and Upgrade Plans

The Hack/Doc group didn’t have major concerns with Moodle 3.3; some CLAMP schools are planning to upgrade to 3.3 for the fall semester and others are sticking with 3.1 or 3.2 for now. A few notes from the discussion:

  • The ability to choose a different document converter is nice.
  • The course overview bug is a concern, though it’s likely to be remedied in 3.3.1.
  • The expansion of user group and overrides is nice for students needing accommodation.
  • Review of the poster plugin functions as advertised, which helps some of the Boost concerns about a lack of a home for blocks.
  • One consideration of going to 3.3 is that it requires PHP 5.6.

Who is using or planning to use Boost?

  • One school is using Boost already and the feedback from faculty so far has been positive, but they just made the switch in May.
  • Another school is planning to roll it out in July.
  • Some other schools are considering it, but no solid plans to make the move at this point.


Rob Eveleigh, the Five Colleges, Inc. Accessibility Coordinator working with Hampshire, Amherst, Smith, and Mount Holyoke Colleges, joined us for a lively discussion around accessibility. Some of the items mentioned were:

  • Using semantic markup effectively
  • Providing alt text for images
  • Using descriptive and unique link text
  • Choosing colors with sufficient contrast
  • Captions, transcripts, and audio description
  • Clarity of language and layout
  • Ensuring accessibility of non-HTML content, such as PDFs and
  • Form labels
  • Skip navigation
  • Data table headers
  • ARIA
  • Javascript
  • Moving, blinking, or scrolling content and ensuring that the user can control the functions
  • Validating HTML
  • Forced file download is the most accessible setting for visually impaired users because they can use their system viewer rather than embedding it.
  • Ensure media players are keyboard navigable
  • Ally is an automated scanner and fixer of uploaded documents purchased by Blackboard and may be made available for other LMSs eventually

Some websites that provide information on a variety of web accessibility goals and strategies:

Some free tools to help evaluate web accessibility:

Andrew presenting about a file scanner.
Andrew presenting about a file scanner. Photo credit: Sarah Ryder

File Scanner Demo

Andrew Ruether from Swarthmore College worked on a tool that scans PDF files in Moodle. The local plugin runs whenever cron is set to run and evaluates the newest files first. Working on a small amount of files each time, it shows if the PDF is an image or text. Andrew created a block for Moodle to show a summary of the PDFs in the course for teachers. The database table keeps the content hash of the PDF, whether it was checked, page count, and OCR status. It might include scan quality down the road. It could potentially include the ability to spell check the OCR document. Ideally, it’d be nice if the non-OCR file could be converted on the fly.

A Little Bit of Git

Kevin Wiliarty from Hampshire College spent some time going over git techniques with other folks. One of the best aspects of Hack/Doc, in my opinion, is the ability to collaborate with and learn from others while feeling like you’re part of a supportive community. Thanks to everyone who attended and participated this week!

Git info on the whiteboard
Hack/Doc Whiteboard. Photo credit: Sarah Ryder

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