What if the Moodle UX was like Netflix?


Having spent the past few days in London with a colleague trying to figure out the future of “digital learning”, I couldn’t stop thinking about what an LMS (such as Moodle) would look like if it adopted a truly simplistic design and setup.  A design that “encourages”, nay… damn right forces you to love it.

Imagine if the image above was your dashboard.  And your courses were nothing more than “covers”, like movie covers on Netflix or Amazon. And the course you last viewed was bigger than the other tiles and highlighted, and when you clicked on it, it resumed where you left off.

When you click on the course, you get one single, simple page.  The course may be just a single activity, whether an H5P Project, a SCORM package or a video. It doesn’t matter.

“But one single activity isn’t enough, I hear you say”.

Well, why not make lots of single activities?  Like a library, whereby each course is in fact just a placeholder for an amazing resource. So we stop building long topic driven courses that look they are trapped in 2009 and actually build courses that offer personalisation where the user can chose what they want to learn.  Like we chose what we want to watch.

Users could simply “add courses” to their library (think self enrolment), they can keep the course (if they like) or un-enrol when they are done.

“But we need to tell learners what to learn, I hear you scream!”

Netflix don’t explicitly tell me what I should watch, but they certainly sway my hand. It’s all in the presentation, and tagging. Something which Moodle can do really well.

No messy course formats, no ugly Moodle hacks, no specialists blocks, just a clever Moodle Theme and a change of culture (a revolution, if you will). We could turn off all the bloat, hide all the settings and have a front-end more akin with the tech we use daily.

I can hear screams of Moodle admins and teachers crying that “this wouldn’t work in our organisation“, but in the same vain, I can hear cheers from learners who don’t give a damn about the backend, the gradebook, the pedagogical workflow of the course, or how clever an API is.  They want to log in and learn. That’s it!

Sometimes, less is more.

I believe this type of approach (although admittedly not suitable for all organisations) would perfectly suit the casual learner. Those who are time precious, who need to dip in and out of content..and who knows.. if done right…may “binge watch” your course resources like a box set of Game of Thrones.  You never know.

I haven’t built this yet, as I’ve been insanely busy, but the more I think about it, the more I can’t stop thinking about it. It could be crazy enough to work.

Moodle Moot 2016 Day 2 of 3


Day 2 kicked off with the annual keynote by Martin Dougiamas.  It was interesting to see how Moodle Could has been expanded to include ad-free , higher user packages. This makes Moodle Cloud an attractive solution for schools looking for a low-cost SAAS Moodle.  The Moodle Association which was announced this time last year is now fully under way and it was great to see this gaining traction.  We were also taught the valuable lesson of not “Moodling whilst Driving!”.

The roadmap for Moodle 3.1 is exciting.  When Moodle 3.0 was released, it felt more like 2.10, and it was met with little fanfare.  However, 3.1  is really the version to look forward to, and the version I’m sure HQ wanted to release if it wasn’t for versioning numbers getting in the way 🙂

Learning Plans and Competencies (due in 3.1) have been a long time coming but one of the most exciting things coming to core I’ve seen in a long while. The possibilities with this are amazing, I can think of so many use cases.

I spent the rest of the morning watching some fantastic presentations in the “Adoption” strand of the conference followed by “Decision Making”  where we saw how the OU have redesigned Moodle, driven by focus groups and student feedback.

After lunch was the Pecha Kucha (rapid fire presentations), and at 3pm I delivered my talk on Instruction Design and the Moodle Lesson Activity.

The final keynote from the OU showing their last 10 years with Moodle was insightful (and nostalgic) but at the same time demonstrated their commitment to the project, not just for the tremendous efforts over the last decade but their future plans too.

The OU’s continued commitment to Moodle sends out a very powerful message.

And that for me was the theme of day, Moodle isn’t going away.  There are plenty of new LMS platforms on the block, all with their own “whizz bang” and feature set.  But they will never have the community that Moodle has. This is what drives and evolves the platform. Not tools for salesmen but tools for educators.

Many people in the industry tend to judge an LMS by its cover. This year we are finally getting the cover to go with the pages.




Moodle Moot 2016 Day 1 of 3

London Moodlemoot 2016

What a great conference thus far.  Some familiar faces, and some real faces I can actually put to Twitter avatars.  Officially we have not even kicked off yet (today is the hackfest) and it’s already awesome.  I spent the morning in the Mobile App Session and I am in awe of the work that has gone into the Moodle Mobile App and what is to come in the future.

We were lucky enough to be given a sneak peak into quiz support in the app, and to be told that ALL core quiz question types will be supported in a future release!

Mark Aberdour chaired a superb interactive session, which encouraged us to compare and contrast the mobile app experience vs the Moodle Mobile App experience, and having the core Moodle App developers explain some of their design decisions was extremely insightful.  We spent the morning creating Moodle activities and analysing the mobile user experience which was intertwined with roadmap sneak peaks.  Another discovery was planned support for assignment uploads within the app. Proving that the official Moodle Mobile app is the best in its class.

Lunch was fantastic, the venue is fantastic.  We are 4 floors underground which is starting to feel like the start of a Zombie movie, I expect the world to have ended when we finally go upstairs back to civilisation.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in the developer hackfest, where Juan Leyva went through Moodle API’s in quite some detail.

Next up is the drinks reception.

Tomorrow I shall blog Day 2.

Follow the conference using the hashtag: #mootieuk16


Language customisations for Moodle emails

Moodle Language Packs

I’m often asked where a specific language string hides within a Moodle Language Pack.  There’s no way I can remember them all, and I often find myself  repeating the same process trying to find them.  So I thought I’d keep a running document  that shows where they are and what they do. I’ll keep adding to this list as I go. If anyone has any more, please share them with me (@lewiscarr).  Eventually I’d love to turn this into some funky infographic type document.

Welcome Email Confirmation

Component: Core

String: emailconfirmation

Standard Text:
Hi {$a->firstname}, A new account has been requested at ‘{$a->sitename}’ using your email address. To confirm your new account, please go to this web address: {$a->link} In most mail programs, this should appear as a blue link which you can just click on. If that doesn’t work, then cut and paste the address into the address line at the top of your web browser window. If you need help, please contact the site administrator, {$a->admin}

New User Email password generated from CSV Upload

Component: core

String: newusernewpasswordtext

Standard Text:
Hi {$a->firstname}, A new account has been created for you at ‘{$a->sitename}’ and you have been issued with a new temporary password. Your current login information is now: username: {$a->username} password: {$a->newpassword} (you will have to change your password when you login for the first time) To start using ‘{$a->sitename}’, login at {$a->link} In most mail programs, this should appear as a blue link which you can just click on. If that doesn’t work, then cut and paste the address into the address line at the top of your web browser window. Cheers from the ‘{$a->sitename}’ administrator, {$a->signoff}

(Thanks to @peterjonker for the suggestion)

Password Reset Email

Component: core

String: emailpasswordconfirmation

Standard Text:
Hi {$a->firstname}, Someone (probably you) has requested a new password for your account on ‘{$a->sitename}’. To confirm this and have a new password sent to you via email, go to the following web address: {$a->link} In most mail programs, this should appear as a blue link which you can just click on. If that doesn’t work, then cut and paste the address into the address line at the top of your web browser window. If you need help, please contact the site administrator, {$a->admin}

Password Confirmation Email

Component: core

String: emailpasswordsent

Standard Text:
Thank you for confirming the change of password. An email containing your new password has been sent to your address at
The new password was automatically generated – you might like to change your password to something easier to remember.

Bounce Back Email

Component: core

String: noreplybouncemessage

Standard Text:
You have replied to a no-reply email address. If you were attempting to reply to a forum post, please instead reply using the {$a} forums. Following is the content of your email:

Change of email message

Component: core

String: emailupdatemessage

Standard Text:
 Dear {$a->fullname}, You have requested a change of your email address for your user account at {$a->site}. Please open the following URL in your browser in order to confirm this change. {$a->url}

Earning a badge Email Subject

Component: core_badges

String: messagesubject

Standard Text:
Congratulations! You just earned a badge!

Earning a badge Email Body

Component: core_badges

String: messagebody

Standard Text:

You have been awarded the badge “%badgename%”! More information about this badge can be found on the %badgelink% badge information page. You can manage and download the badge from your {$a} page.

Why I joined the Moodle Association

Moodle Association

There are many reasons why it’s a good thing to join the Moodle Users Association, MoodleNews posted a pretty good roundup here.  Everyone will have their own reasons for doing so. Some people want to give something back to Moodle, some want to vote on features and impact the development of Moodle.  Now it’s no secret, I make my living using Open Source tools, predominantly around Moodle.  So I’d be crazy not to give something back.

I am not a Moodle Partner (maybe one day), and I realise that my individual contribution of 100 Australian dollars is just a drop in the ocean, but collectively, every contribution adds up.  I contributed not for votes, I joined the Moodle Association because I want to help prove this HQ-backed “crowdsourcing” concept works. Regardless of how much revenue it generates, it will generate ideas and spur innovation. And that has got to be worth every penny.