“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.”

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 Twitter Post Block

Twitter PostI have just finished an early release of my Moodle Twitter Block. The block simply allows you to post a tweet to a Twitter account. At present it asks you to enter your Twitter username and password but I will be customising this to pull the data from user profile fields already in Moodle. A lot of work has already been done on a similar block by M3 (http://m3.jiscemerge.org.uk/) but I wanted to create my own and slowly develop it over time to fit in with my custom tweaks. It uses some simple AJAX to submit the form so it stays inside the block.

The block uses the “Twitter for PHP” class created by David Grudl. (http://davidgrudl.com) (http://twitter-php.googlecode.com) so I will be able to make use of upgrades on this project as and when they are released.

Future upgrades will include:

  • Retrieving Twitter posts from your friends list
  • Embedding Twitter user photos
  • An ajax popup in My Moodle Bar to allow quick status updates
  • Automatic tweeting when a user completes a quiz, submits and assignment or posts to a forum
  • Sign on to Moodle with your Twitter ID
  • Posting to a Twitter Wall which will become an Activity Type within Moodle

Please feel free to give it a try, but please…back up your Moodle site first and don’t use it on a production server! It’s still in beta. Please leave some comments on this page for me.

Download the block here