MoodleMoot 2019 – Short Reflection

OK, I’m officially old as I’m now in double digits for the number of Moodle Moots I have attended. Having just returned from the UK Moot in Manchester.

And for once, this Moot was local to me.  As always, it was great to catch up with familiar friends and faces from the UK and across the globe.  It’s been an interesting few years for Moodle, especially since the organisation has become more commercial in both its thinking and its operations and this was evident in the opening keynote by Moodle founder, Martin Dougiamas.  He now has to worry about paying the wages for some 70+ staff alongside building the worlds best LMS and nobler efforts such as figuring out how Moodle as an entity can help solve bigger worldwide humanitarian problems.  Not a small feat.

Here are my top 3 highlights from the keynote.

  • Moodle Workplace is almost operational, with some really amazing features coming to Moodle core over the next few releases
  • Deeper integration with H5P
  • The possibilities of embedding quiz questions in other content (formative).

The group photo proved challenging, due to the sheer amount of Moodlers in the audience, if you look carefully you can find me! This just shows you just how popular Moodle is, so if there are any doubters as to Moodle’s dominance in the UK LMS space, just take a look below:


moodlemoot 2019

My Pico Presentation:

This year I presented a short pico presentation on MoodleCloud theming, using CSS.  I’m not sure anyone understood why I presented this so let me briefly explain.  With MoodleCloud, users cannot install themes, and some users complain that they struggle to make MoodleCloud look good.  So I thought it would be good to show just how far you can go with CSS on a standard Moodle theme, and prove the cloud critics wrong.


The slides will become available shortly via the Moot website (I think).

Partners and exhibitors:

All the usual crew attended the 2019 Moot, however, not all of the UK partners had a stand, which I found quite interesting. Anyhow, my friends at Titus Learning were there in full force and it was great to meet the newest UK Moodle Partner, eThink Education.

The presentations:

As always, I attended a range of presentations delivered by other Moodlers, in particular, I found the Moodle app presentations extremely useful.  The Open University delivered a fair few of these.  The guys at Weizmann Institue of Science showcased some amazing things they have been doing with Moodle that improve the student experience, which is refreshing to see.

One of my main criticisms of a Moodle Moot (and many of the attendees ), is that there is too much focus on making Moodle better for educators, teachers and administrators.  And not enough focus on the student.  Maybe we need to get students and end-users there next year.

Take a look at the wish list below, these are what was suggested.  Notice how the focus is on the Moodle backend, and not on the front end. I think we need a more student-centric focus personally but as the majority of the audience were admins, developers or teachers, then I can understand why.



The Moodle party!

As ever, the party was great fun. Who doesn’t like free beer, live music, trapeze artists and entertaining Monkey people?  Just check out the twitter stream with hashtag #mootieuk19 to see what I mean.  Each year my hangover seems worse than the last.

Final thoughts:

Moodle Moots are amazing,   I’ve come back with a stack of new ideas and enthusiasm, now all I have to do is find the time to implement some of them.
There is a global Moot this year in Barcelona, and it’s extremely tempting.

Digital Home School Moodle Update 2

Today I made a short video to show the progress I made this week on my Moodle home school.

I simplified the whole login process and the children are  taken directly to their dashboard (or Springboard) as I’m naming it.

Moodle then randomly picks 4 topics from 4 key subject areas (Science, Technology, English and Maths).  And each time the children visit this page the content is randomised. (I plan on making this personalised based on user progression and competence..but that’s later.)

The student clicks the topic they wish to learn and it drops them into a random activity based around that topic.  The student can reload the page and a randomised activity follows.  So it’s different every time.

Oh! We also have the nice little popup menu in the bottom left.  The core navigation bit that takes the student back to the springboard, their achievements and their reports.

That’s all I had time to do this week, but I’ll keep going next week.

“I’m still Moodling..better than I ever did”


I haven’t blogged in a while, mostly due to being so busy with the day job. I get to work on so many fascinating eLearning projects that it’s difficult to find the time to work on my own personal Moodle projects. But recently, I’ve been burning some midnight oil to work on a project I’ve always wanted to do for years.

A new home school study Moodle platform designed and built from the ground up to work for kids, my own kids to be precise. It’s probably the furthest I’ve ever pushed Moodle, and that’s because this time I’m not building it for a client, I’m not building it for an administrator, nor a teacher, or meddling graphic designer. I’m building it for my own kids and will eventually roll it out to everyone I get to finally do all the things I’ve always wanted to do with Moodle without anything getting in the way. I want to build a fluid LMS that doesn’t even come close to feeling like an LMS.

My goal was to use Moodle as the framework and all the great community plugins (Level Up, Stash) and somehow roll them up into something that offers a truly user-first learning journey. It also boasts a really simple navigation button, everything is controlled from it, no breadcrumbs, no course titles, just a funky little pop-out button.

Check out these actual working screenshots (not mockups, this is where I’m at so far)

An amazing school site built with Moodle

Oh, and H5P is also been pushed and bent into something beautiful. So I’ll strip back the platform UX to something beautifully simplistic but retain the sheer awesomeness and power of the best LMS on the planet.  The whole system uses Moodle tags to display content, it doesn’t use traditional courses. It’s all tags and outcomes, badges, treasure hunts and rewards.  I still have plenty to do, and I’ll keep writing up  the progress here on my blog.



My enthusiasm for Moodle has been ignited again lately.  Imagine my excitement when I heard recently that Moodle HQ has just secured a truck load of funding. Over the past few years I’ve seen people switch to Google Classroom, I’ve watched Canvas penetrate the UK market and I’ve seen Totara capture the corporate market (at the expense of Moodle). So to watch Martin Dougiamas and his team propel the Mobile App, secure $6m in funding, open a new base in Spain and watch the vision unfold, I’m getting pretty excited.  Moodle is still my all time favourite platform to work with.

Which brings me onto my second secret project. Some new interface ideas for the Moodle app. I can’t have an awesome new Kid friendly LMS without an accompanying app.

These are the ideas I’ve been working on. This is the Moodle Mobile app with a new stylesheet, some custom graphics and a little code hacking.


So, what’s next? Well, I need to keep working on the day job, pay the bills and keep the lights on. But feeling all inspired and refreshed, I can’t wait to carry on with this project.  It needs to be ready before summer 2018.

And as Elton once said, “You know I’m still Moodling, better than I ever did.  Moodling like a true survivor, Moodling like a little kid.”

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.