Tag: anonymous forums

Hack/Doc at Carleton: Day 3

Kristi contemplates infinity
Em flexes for the final plunge
Charles plummets for the sidewalk

Late Wednesday afternoon the Hack/Doc attendees were invited to the basement of Weitz to walk the plank. Not off the edge of a pirate ship, but through virtual reality, via a headset and Richie’s Plank Experience. In this experience, a wooden plank is placed on the floor and then mapped to a virtual location. Wearing the VR headset, each person “rides” an elevator to the top of a “building”, and the door opens, revealing the plank, swirling air, and long drop below. The goal is to overcome your sensory input and walk off the edge of the plank to plummet several hundred feet to the ground. The other people in the room see what you’re seeing but don’t get the same immersive experience.

It’s incredibly difficult. Almost everyone successfully “walked the plank” and plummeted in the end, but several needed multiple tries to do it. The objective knowledge that you’re standing in a basement, surrounded by friends and colleagues, is nothing against the sensory input that you’re hundreds of feet up and inches from disaster. The below video shows Kristi Burch during her second (successful) fall:

Grading with letters

A non-functional prototype of how a teacher would define the letter scale.

During Carly Born’s Moodle Showcase presentation on the grade book (see the Day 2 recap), several participants discussed the long-standing desire to grade with letters. Thursday, Hack/Doc attendees discussed what such a module might look like and prototyped the interface. Ideas:

  • This could probably be delivered with an advanced grading form, similar to rubrics or checklist
  • Teachers should be able to create direct mappings between letters and grade values
  • Students should see the letter and not the grade value

CLAMP will schedule a follow-up online event in July or August to determine the next steps.

Anonymous forums

Testing of the LAE 4.0 beta revealed one minor problem with the anonymous forums patch: the Moodle logs, restricted to teachers and administrators, show the actual poster of anonymous forum posts and not the Anonymous User. This is unexpected and probably true in previous versions of Moodle. CLAMP intends to correct this problem in the next stable releases, scheduled for mid-July 2022. Note that even with this patch, a teacher can always look at the course logs and see who was active on the forum at any given time, and the patch does not mask IP addresses.


And that’s a wrap on the Moodle Hack/Doc Fest for Summer 2022 at Carleton College.  A big thank you goes out to our participants, both in-person and online, to those who attended the Moodle Showcase talks, and to Carleton College for being such an excellent host. CLAMP will announce its plans for the Winter 2023 Hack/Doc Fest after the start of term this fall.

Summer 2022 Hack/Doc Fest: Event page | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3


Hack/Doc at Butler: The Sprint Day

The white, aquaduct-like facade of Irwin Library at Bulter University
The exterior of Irwin Library at Butler University. Photo credit: Ken Newquist

CLAMP kicked off Moodle Hack/Doc Fest on Monday, June 21 with our traditional sprint day. The sprint day exists for everyone to get a jump on the week’s work — a few people (in this case, most of those attending Hack/Doc) arrive early, resolve any logistical challenges (getting to campus, connecting to the local network, making sure sources of caffeine are available throughout the day), and start organizing the week’s worth.

During this sprint we came up with our usual tasks list in Google Drive and people signed up for the things they were interested. Then, in a fit of spontaneous documentation, everyone started using that tasks list to provide updates on their progress. It’s not a thing we’ve done before, but it’s working out very well — it provides a running log of what we were working on, and it’s more efficient because we don’t need to spend as much time reporting out each day.

Topics identified include:

  • Accessibility – Making Accommodations for Users with Disabilities
  • Managing the “scroll of death” on course pages within Moodle
  • The practical implementations of layering quizzes over video
  • Evaluate the Moodle Mobile app
  • Printing from Moodle
  • The Recycle Bin plugin in Moodle (new feature in Moodle 3.1)
  • Evaluate the Mass Action block (3rd party plugin)
  • Evaluate Competencies (new feature in Moodle 3.1)
  • Test out the Global Search
  • Document, test, and name the new umbrella course plugin (3rd party plugin)
  • Look at other major changes in Moodle 3.1
  • Review anonymous forums in Moodle 3.1 (Moodle Liberal Arts Edition)
  • Review Ad-hoc database queries (customsql) (Moodle Liberal Arts Edition)
  • Best practices for using Moodle with other schools

Hack/Doc attendees can view the task list in Google Docs; the initial draft of the list is available in the CLAMP Moodle Exchange.

In the course of our work we came across a gnarly problem involving the new assignment review interface. This interface allows the user to see a student’s submitted assignment alongside all the relevant grading fields (e.g. add a grade, comments, etc.). The student’s work is rendered as a PDF and the teacher can use Moodle’s annotation capabilities to mark up the paper with their responses. The end result is saved as a PDF and sent to the student as feedback.

The problem is with the PDF. If students submitted a PDF, then the process works reasonably well. If they submitted a Word or Open Office document instead, Moodle converts it to PDF for display … or tries to. If you do not have a specific helper application known as unoconv installed on the server (and in our experience, it’s unlikely you will have it), then the PDF conversion fails. Instead you get a blank page. That blank page can then be edited with the annotation tools and submitted as feedback, but that’s not particularly helpful since the student’s original assignment isn’t included.

This is documented in MDL-54165 New grading interface should hide editpdf if unoconv is not enabled and is flagged as a critical bug in Moodle 3.1. The proposed resolution to the bug is to revise the interface to allow it to fail gracefully when this tool isn’t available. We encourage the CLAMP community to watch and vote for this issue.

Posts from Moodle Hack/Doc Fest at Butler University: HomepageSprint | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3