Journal feedback stripslash inserts causing problems

As many of you may know, journal feedback in Moodle is via a text box and not a WYSIWYG editor. So when a tutor leaves feedback containing an apostrophe, a stripslash (backslash) is inserted into the text. This is fine and I understand the (MySQL) reasons why, however… my tutors do not! Each time a tutor saves new feedback, an extra stripslash is added. After many edits the feedback is littered with stripslashes.

So as a temporary fix I have removed the stripslashes by modifying /mod/journal/report.php.

By replacing the line:

$entrybyuser[$entry->userid]->entrycomment = $vals[‘c’];


$entrybyuser[$entry->userid]->entrycomment = stripslashes($vals[‘c’]);

I realise that this may create a rod for my back further down the line, especially when it comes to exporting or importing this table from MySQL but it will certainly save me lots of earache in the upcoming months, especially as the journals will be assessed and OFSTED will not be too happy wading through pages of stripslashes.

Course icons on MyMoodle page

This is a simple idea, but very effective nevertheless.

I have made it even easier to find courses in the MyMoodle course list by placing category icons next to each course name.

Courses in the Sport Category have a small football icon, IT courses have a floppy disc, Tutorial courses have a question mark symbol and so on.

The script works by first checking for a .png file with the name of the category ID. If it finds the file it will include the icon, if an icon has not yet been created for the category then it will show the default icon.

If anything, the script adds a bit more eye candy to the MyMoodle page as well as making it easier for staff and students to find courses from a list (especially if the list is quite long).

I have attached a screenshot below:

Moodle Course Report Block – An automatic course checking system

UPDATE: Due to popular demand I will be releasing this block to the Moodle community. I will start working on this in September 2010.

I have just finished work on the beta of the Moodle Course Report Block. An automatic course checking and points scoring system to encourage a balanced blend of resources and activities.

The block works by collating statistical information from a course such as the number of files, types of resources used, number of assignments and quizzes etc..

Based upon this information it creates a printable report with suggestions for improvement and also informs the teacher on areas of good practice.

I have a attached a weighting to each resource and activity installed on our Moodle system and the report calculates a total so each course can be graded.

View a Sample (PDF) Report by clicking here

The block is hidden from students and is sticky so that it appears on all courses.

It’s Purpose

The purpose of the block is to allow teachers to perform their own course checks and get instant feedback on areas for improvement. Points are awarded for the number of resources available but to avoid a repository-based course more points are awarded to the interactive activities. So a course with 12 word documents will not score as highly as a course with a workshop, a forum and a journal.

A course with an average score of 80 is good, 100+ is excellent and over 200 is fantastic.

Further Developments

I have a added a file count and a script to display the size of the course directory.

The report highlights items that need addressing on the course, such as:

  • Encouraging the use of labels to aid contextualisation.
  • Encouraging the use of webpages rather than links to word documents
  • Encouraging the use of forums, journals, books etc..
  • The tutor is commended for using key activities
  • A green tick indicates a good point
  • A red cross indicates a bad point
  • A yellow warning triangle is a recommendation/suggestion

Beta Testing

I am currently beta-testing the block with our e-Learning mentors at college. Based upon their feedback I shall add more elements and maybe an even more detailed reporting engine.

Currently the block searches all the default Moodle activities/resources plus the extra “third party” ones we use here at Leeds City College, such as the Book Module, Gallery, Questionnaire etc.. so it’s still bespoke to our installation. I don’t think I’d ever make it work for all third party modules, there’s too many to list. I still have many bug tweaks to do and I need to clean the code up before I can release this block to the public.

Moodle Course Quick Edit Bar

Today I finished working on the quick course edit bar. The bar appears once the “Turn editing On” button is selected. The bar drops down beneath the breadcrumb trail to reveal 3 of the most common settings that our tutors have problems finding under the course settings.

Often, tutors wish to change the number of topics/weeks to show as they hide resources in topics which are not visible. In order to do this they must click on settings, change the topics, click save, then make the necessary changes and then repeat the process in order to hide the topic. This is too long winded so a new solution was required.

So as a result, I created the Quick Edit bar which speeds up the process. The tutor can also edit the course idnumber from here and also change the course format type. So they can quickly change between weeks/topics at the click of the button.

Depending on the feedback I get from tutors I may add some extra functionality to the bar such as a course start date.

I’ll let you know if it’s been successful and maybe submit it to the Moodle tracker for consideration.