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).
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.
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.
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.
The biannual Hack/Doc Fest is being held at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. The event kicked off on Wednesday, January 8, 2020, and runs through Friday, January 8. The following tasks are queued up for Hack/Doc (very much subject to change):
Evaluating Moodle 3.8, which was released last November
Improving the Roster report to support pronouns
Taking a fresh look at the Moodle Mobile app
Improvements to the file accessibility block
This year the Hack/Doc Fest overlaps, physically and otherwise, with CLAC’s high-performance computing (HPC) mindshare, taking place on the lower level of Singer Hall. Rumors of superior lemonade at the CLAC craft table may–or may not–have led to direct action around lunchtime.
From the task list
Moodle 3.8 Liberal Arts Edition release
The first Moodle 3.8 LAE release is ready for testing. Moodle core continued its revamp of the forum module, which began with Moodle 3.7. Fortunately, this required far fewer changes to Anonymous Forums this time around!
One new feature in Moodle 3.8 is the ability to grade forum posts. Evaluating this feature produced Hack/Doc’s first bug, a browser conflict in Safari. That issue aside, and presumably it’ll be fixed soon, the feature is a significant improvement over the old workflow. It presents a user-by-user view of forum posts and presents the teacher the ability to give that user a grade for the forum, based on their contributions. It’s very similar to the assignment grading view. The forum also supports a nested view of the discussions now. This appears to work as expected showing primary forum posts with the nested post, open and visible below. The threaded view shows the reply post below the original but it is closed and only viewable by clicking to open it. This worked in the Mobile app as well.
Moodle has also taken the first steps toward core support of H5P. H5P is an interactive, web-based content authoring tool, and a perennial subject at Hack/Doc Fest (Brandeis, Hampshire, Lafayette). At this point, the core support complements the existing H5P activity plugin, rather than replacing it outright. The new core functionality allows you to add H5P content to Moodle as you would a page or a label, but you can’t yet use it to author content within Moodle. It also adds an Atto button for easier embedding. For now, if you’re already using the H5P plugin, you’ll want to keep doing so.
Moodle Mobile app
No one’s quite sure when CLAMP first kicked the tires on Moodle’s Mobile app (there have been several), but it may have been at the Winter 2012 Hack/Doc at Tulane, where we described it as “lackluster.” We’ve looked at it off and on since, and a number of CLAMP schools now have it enabled and report few support issues. This time around we noted a few positives and challenges:
There are some accessibility challenges related to color contrast. It may be possible to mitigate these with a custom CSS file.
The default behavior is still to sync changes on Wi-Fi only, but it’s possible for the user to change this behavior.
Assignment submissions worked well.
Login with institutional single sign-on is smooth and the login persists.
Push notifications have to be configured server-side and there’s a lot to review there.
The consensus in the room was that there was no downside to turning on support for the app, though no one planned to make a big push to encourage adoption.
We discussed ways to make the Roster report more flexible, and Sharon Strauss from Haverford raised the possibility of giving it a capability similar to Name Coach, which allows students to record the pronunciation of their names. One option would be to have a custom field with the attached audio, which could then be exposed via the report.