Moodle LMS Features and Updates
Review a list of recent Moodle updates
The Moodle Learning Management System (LMS) provides educators with a highly functional and flexible digital learning solution through open-source technology. Moodle continuously updates existing modules and adds new features to facilitate better learning outcomes. This allows expert eLearning vendors like eThink to customize the LMS to meet the specific learning goals of the institution or organization.
Table of Contents
- Moodle 3.7 Updates - Updates to the Forum & Lesson modules
- Moodle 3.6 Updates - Badge Updates, Quiz Stats & Reporting, Group Messaging, Dashboard Changes, Assignment Feedback
- Moodle 3.5 Updates - GDPR, Recording Audio and Video, Mobile Layout
- Moodle 3.4 Updates - User Experience Improvements, Course Improvements, Activity Improvements
- Moodle 3.3 Updates - Remind Me to Grade By, Course Overview, Bulk Edit Activity, Stealth Activities
- Moodle 3.2 Updates - Boost Default Theme
Have questions about these updates? Get in touch with the experts at eThink!
Enhancements to Forums
The changes we see to Moodle Forums may be our favorite feature within 3.7! Participating in forums is now a lot easier due to the ability to comment inline & to create a new discussion post directly from the discussion list page.
Two other new features instructors will appreciate are the ability to privately reply to a post and to manually lock a discussion.
Lock a Discussion
You also have more control over the sort order of Forum discussions – you’ll now be able to sort by date and number of replies. Should you wish to favorite a post you can star it so that it’s easier to find going forward.
Sort Discussion Posts
Star a Discussion Post
A New Messaging Interface
Moodle 3.6 introduced group messaging capabilities which was a feature requested by many Moodle users, and Moodle 3.7 is continuing the trend of updates to the interface. When you click into your Messages, you’ll find that the menu expands along the right-hand side of the page rather than downwards on the page. In line with Moodle’s focus on protecting privacy, users are also given greater control over who is able to message them by adjusting their settings and all users now also have a private section for their messages.
In addition to the new display, you’ll notice that you now have the ability to expand the messaging interface into a full page or a 2-column display and you can also mute conversations. Every user has a personal messaging space where they can save draft messages, add notes, reminders, etc for a later time.
There is also an available course level user tour which, if enabled by your administrator, will pop up as soon as you enter a course and walk you through this new feature.
Media Options within Lessons
New in Moodle 3.7 is the ability for your learners to add media into essay questions when they answer them. They can add images and/or record audio and video using the buttons in their Atto text editor, as shown below.
Consider using this question type creatively to impact the ways your learners interact with your course and test their understanding as well as how they prove mastery of the subject matter.
As an instructor, you can also take advantage of media options in the Lesson essay question type when you’re grading. Save yourself time by recording audio or video feedback! Statistics show that detailed feedback provides not only direction for improvement but motivation for learning; the Lesson module now further supports you in creating this rich learning environment.
Support for Open Badges 2.0 & New Criteria for Awarding a Badge
Support for Open Badges 2.0 means badges may now include language and version, image author details (in the initial set up) and Endorsements, Related badges and Competencies in addition to the criteria that has always been available.
These additions to badge criteria work just the same as the previously offered criteria. Simply make your selections and then decide how to award the badge and you’re ready to enable it for access! Open Badges 2.0 also means more support for pushing your badges outside of Moodle and into a social media platform of your choosing.
Users can show their larger educational and professional community their achievements and mastery of various topics. Using a “backpack,” learners can take their achievements with them, further supporting their educational journey.
Moodle 3.7 now offers more “backpack” choices as well. Mozilla Backpack and Badgr are both supported platforms now. To use these platforms you must first create an account on their sites. Then you’ll link that to your Moodle profile within your Backpack Preferences.
In Moodle 3.7 you can award a badge based on a competency that a learner has mastered. You’ll find this option at the bottom of the criteria drop-down menu, as shown below.
Should you choose to tie competencies to the badge criteria your next step will be to identify which competency or competencies should be aligned with the badge. You’ll find a search box where you can begin to type in the name of the competency and once it appears you can to make your selection(s). The next piece is to decide whether all of these competencies should be met or if any of them will do.
Webinar: What’s New in Moodle 3.7
Have the aforementioned features intrigued you? We sure hope so! Dive deeper into the features covered with the eThink Services Team during “What’s New in Moodle 3.7“. Or, if you have additional questions or need help, contact the Moodle experts at eThink.
Many new features in the latest version of Moodle, Moodle 3.6, focus on privacy, usability, and communication enhancements. Moodle’s updates to the group messaging feature are no different. Moodle’s 3.6’s group messaging offers newer and more manageable ways to communicate with colleagues, peers, or other learners.
Badge Updates in Moodle 3.6
A few of these new customizations can now be added within the Badge details section of your course. There you can edit the badge version and language in addition to the description. You can also edit the image details as seen below…
Endorsements, related badges, and external competencies can now be added to each badge as well. For example, if you have a similar badge in a different language, that badge could be listed under “related badges.” If you want to link this badge to another organization’s competencies, it is now possible! Easily add the specified competency to the badge via the Competencies section.
If learners earn a badge from an external agency or organization, or even from a different department within the same organization, the Endorsement feature can be used to provide further detail about who is providing the endorsement as shown here…
Once these new details have been added, customization is complete and we can select the “Save changes” button.
Badges are a great way to celebrate learner achievement, to show learning progress, and to motivate organizations. Many institutions have seen a significant and positive impact on learner morale and engagement after introducing a badge system. For more information on the use of Badges in your Moodle course, check out the Badges doc at Moodle.org or contact your eThink Moodle expert!
Quiz Statistics & Reporting
Moodle 3.6 offers simplified and improved accessibility to analytical data from the quiz module. The latest updates to the Quiz Statistics Report in Moodle 3.6 specifically focus on the response statistics of randomized questions. Instructors can now view response statistics for quiz questions deployed from the pool of randomized questions easily, regardless of the total number of randomized questions within the quiz.
In prior versions of Moodle when 9 or fewer questions appear across all attempts within a quiz, the statistics page would display the list of chosen questions beneath the corresponding set of question placeholders in addition to any static questions (true or false, multichoice, essay question types, etc).
When 9 or more questions have been used in attempts, Moodle shows placeholders then three rows of statistics for the pool of randomized questions, limiting the analytics of only a select number of specific questions, rather than viewing all analytics of all questions of which attempts were made.
See below the display of a quiz containing more than 9 randomized questions and the three selected questions displayed below the table:
The links on each question lead the user to the response analysis for that question. For example, if we click on the randomized question in position #13, the link will direct you to that question’s statistics but does not reveal the specific question used.
However, by clicking on question #14 you’re then shown all questions contained in the category and their analyses. Essentially, this created much confusion and difficulty in simply viewing randomized question analytics directly from the statistics reports page. While being unintuitive, the steps of accessing this data have mostly gone undocumented as well.
Quiz Reporting Upgrades
Now in Moodle 3.6, the statistics report page displays an additional row containing a range of data. This row links to a full list of all analyses of randomized questions associated with its corresponding category. There are no longer direct links to each randomized question in order to consolidate a single, accessible source of all statistics.
Clicking on View Details will then direct you to an overview of the structural analysis for all questions, from where you can then drill down further into the analytics of each question. This will be revisited in the overview of the report.
For those who are unfamiliar with this report, you can locate the Quiz Statistics report by entering the Quiz activity and through the Quiz Administration menu, (accessible via gear icon at the top right corner) first selecting Results, then clicking on Statistics.
This report provides a statistical analysis of the quiz and the questions within it. The top section of this report, Quiz information, gives a summary of the whole quiz such as:
- Quiz name
- Course name
- Number of complete graded first attempts
- Total number of complete graded attempts
- Average grade of first attempts, all attempts, and last attempts
- Average grade of highest graded attempts
- Median grade (for the highest graded attempt)
Quiz Structure Analysis
The following section, Quiz Structure Analysis, displays all questions in a table. It contains links to edit individual questions or dig deeper into the detailed analysis of a specific question by either clicking on the Question name (for static question types) or by using the View details link (specific to randomized questions and their respective categories).
The View Details link will be present at the very bottom of the corresponding category table.
Viewing details of a randomized question provides access to analytics of all questions chosen within the larger selection of randomized questions.
Clicking on the question name will then further breakdown into three tables: Question information, Question statistics, and Analysis of responses.
Question information details the following information:
- Question name
- Question type
Question statistics displays the following data fields:
- Attempts – How many students attempted this question
- Random guess score – The score the student would get by guessing random
- Intended and Effective weight – Intended weight is simply what you set up when editing the quiz. If question 1 is worth 3 marks out of a total of 10 for the quiz, the intended weight is 30%. The effective weight is an attempt to estimate, from the results, how much of the actual variation was due to this question. So, ideally, the effective weights should be close to the intended weights
- Discrimination index – This is the correlation between the score for this question and the score for the whole quiz. From this data, you might determine students who score highly on this question score highly on the whole quiz. Higher numbers are better.
- Discriminative efficiency – Another measure that is like Discrimination index.
Analysis of responses lists all possible responses to the question. This includes percentile of users given partial credit for their submitted answer, count of users that have selected that response, and the frequency in which it’s been selected. The count could perhaps be higher at some points depending upon whether the question allows for more than one answer to be selected (check all that apply) or if multiple attempts have been enabled for the quiz.
The final section of this report is a bar graph illustrating the percentage of correct answers submitted, labeled Facility index, and the Discriminative efficiency index.
Upgrades to the Messaging Interface
First, you’ll notice that the messaging interface itself shows some changes. The messaging icon is still located in the top menu bar. However, once clicked it displays along the right-hand side of the page rather than downwards on the page.
Further, Moodle continues to focus on improvements for protecting privacy. In Moodle 3.6, users now get greater control over who messages them by adjusting their settings. To adjust your settings, simply click into the gear icon at the top right of the messaging interface. From there, you’ll be given the opportunity to modify your privacy and notification preferences.
Group Messaging in Moodle 3.6
After creating groups within your course and enabling group messaging, these groups appear in the group messaging section of the messaging drawer. Users within that group can then communicate as a team using the messaging feature.
Also true to Moodle form, you’ll find that there is a new course level user tour. If enabled by your administrator, the course level tour pops up as soon as you enter a course and walks you through this new feature. This supports end users as they acclimate to the new feature.
User Dashboard Changes
The user dashboard is the most efficient way to display courses, activities, and deadlines in Moodle. With the release of Moodle 3.6, the dashboard has been completely overhauled to allow more functionality and personalization when managing your course menu.
Course Overview Updates
With Moodle 3.6, you can now customize your course overview display. With these added features, users are better able to sort, manage, and prioritize courses and assignments. Let’s dive into the new features!
You can choose to show past, current, or future courses…
You can hide or “star” courses. Starred courses are added as favorites…
You can choose to sort by title or recently (last) accessed courses.
And select alternate views, such as list, grid or summary.
The Importance of Start and End Dates
Now that you’ve seen some of the new ways to manage and organize courses on the new User Dashboard, it’s important to understand where courses can be found in Moodle.
In recent Moodle releases, the end date was incorporated into Moodle courses. The end date controls when the course is over, in a similar way to how the start date controls when it begins. While the end date does not stop users from entering the course, it does impact where on the Dashboard you will see the course displayed.
If your start date has not yet arrived, you’ll find the course on the Future tab. If the end date has passed, you’ll find the course on the Past tab.
New Dashboard Blocks
Alongside the changes to how users can interact with and manage courses, users can now also customize the Dashboard by adding blocks and rearranging them any way they choose. These new blocks include the following features:
“Timeline” takes the list of all completed, pending and overdue activities. The timeline was formerly found in the Course Overview but has been moved to its own block. It now appears separate from the regular display. The new timeline block allows you to sort and filter the items in your timeline. For example, you can choose to view only the activities due in the next seven days.
“Recently accessed courses” shows a list of the courses you accessed most recently.
“Starred courses” lists courses you have “starred” because they are important or your favorites.
“Recently accessed items” shows recent activities you opened from all courses. Standard Moodle and plugin based-activities will appear here.
In addition, the Course Overview now allows for more robust filter, sort and display options.
Webinar: New Dashboard Blocks
Intrigued by this feature? We sure hope so! Dive deeper into the features covered with the eThink Services Team in the video below. Or, if you have additional questions or need help, contact the Moodle experts at eThink.
Annotations and Marking Assignments
When marking assignments, as with earlier versions of Moodle, graders have the option of annotating submissions. If the student uploads a PDF, docx or odt file, or if you set ‘Comment inline’ for an online text submission, then the submission will be displayed on the grading screen. From here, you are allowed to annotate using a variety of tools, stamps (if uploaded by the admin), and comments (which may be saved to a comments bank). When the annotations are complete, clicking to save the changes will result in your edits being displayed to the student as part of their feedback.
In previous versions, graders also had the ability to leave feedback comments in a box located at the bottom right as well as input grades. These comments could consist of text, ordered and unordered lists, hyperlinks, and even images, although their source was limited to an online URL.
New Assignment Feedback Features
With Moodle 3.6, graders have additional feedback and comment options. They can now leave images from additional sources, link to media files including videos and audio files, and even leave their own video and audio recordings directly in Moodle.
Let’s check out each option…
New Assignment Feedback Feature #1: Insert Images from Multiple Repositories
The first new option graders have is the ability to leave images from a variety of sources. To do this they select the Insert image button from the Atto text editor toolbar.
This will provide them a dialogue box where they can input the image’s URL, and now also browse multiple repositories from which to choose the image. In addition, graders may leave an image description and adjust its size and alignment if desired.
When choosing an image, the available repositories will depend on how your Moodle has been configured, but one option that will invariably be available is the ability to upload the file from your local computer. In the setup below, you can see that Wikimedia, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive are also possible options (if configured).
New Assignment Feedback Feature #2 : Link to External Media
The second new feature allows you to link to external media such as websites, videos, and audio files. To do this, graders select the Insert media button from the toolbar.
A dialogue box prompts users with their upload choices. The first tab allows graders to link to external files and websites, but also files stored locally on their computer or in the cloud.
The second tab allows graders to select videos from external and local sources. One external source commonly used is YouTube. Browsing repositories allow graders to select from video files stored on their computer or other repositories.
When inserting videos, graders are given additional configuration options such how to display the video, some advanced options like showing the controls, automatically playing, muting and looping the video, as well as providing subtitles and captions.
The third tab allows graders to insert audio files in the same manner and with many of the same options as when inserting video files.
New Assignment Feedback Feature #3: Manage Files
The next new feature is the ability to manage files. To do this, graders can select the Manage files button from the toolbar.
Yet another dialogue box appears where graders can upload, download, and delete files as well as update file information such as name, author, and type of license.
New Assignment Feedback Feature #4: Record Audio Feedback
The fourth new feedback feature lets graders leave audio feedback by directly making a recording in Moodle. To do this they select the Record audio button in the toolbar.
This produces a popup window where the grader can record their audio feedback. Note that for this to work properly, you need to give the browser access to the microphone. Once the audio has been recorded, you are able to click to attach it.
New Assignment Feedback Feature #5: Record Video Feedback
The last and final new feature introduced in Moodle 3.6 may be the most exciting one yet: the ability for educators to leave video feedback by making their own video recordings. To do this, select the Record video button in the toolbar.
Just like when recording audio files, a popup window is produced where graders can record their video. Additionally, you need to authorize access to the external device in the browser, in this case, the webcam.
When recording audio files and videos there is a limit of 2 minutes, but don’t worry, it’s amazing what one can say or do in that amount of time!
Exciting right? With these new assignment feedback features in Moodle 3.6, graders can provide students with a broad variety of feedback. Grading and feedback have never been easier. For more information on using the assignment activity, visit these links:
Webinar: What’s New in Moodle 3.6
Have the aforementioned features intrigued you? Dive deeper into the features covered with the eThink Services Team below. Or, if you have additional questions or need help, contact the Moodle experts at eThink.
Moodle 3.5 includes a list of new features and fixes for the Moodle community to utilize and enjoy, including improvements surrounding usability, accessibility, and GDPR compliance. Here are some of the biggest improvements…
Besides the fact that GDPR settings are now a part of core Moodle, the primary GDPR changes in Moodle 3.5 revolve around supporting the right for your users to be informed about how their data will be used, providing access to said data, and the ability for users to request that their data be erased.
Moodle added a new section to the Site administration menu called “Privacy and Policies” which contains most of this functionality. From here you can set a wide range of options, such as whether you want to do age verification prior to account creation, create policies and set based on user type, and review who or hasn’t agreed to your policies.
Recording Audio & Video in Atto
A new feature that users can take advantage of within Moodle 3.5 is the “recordrtc” button in the Atto text editor. This button offers users the ability to create and share audio and video content without the need for external products or plugins. This feature is easy to use, requiring very little learning curve, and allows for varied content creation. Use “recordrtc” to tap into additional learning styles by pairing your recording alongside written text – all directly from your core Moodle tools!
You’ll find this feature by identifying the following buttons in your Atto text editor:
It’s important to note that there is a default recording limit of 2 minutes.
Making More of Mobile
The last feature we want to highlight from Moodle 3.5 relates to the new look and feel of mobile. The first thing you’ll notice about Mobile version 3.5.1 is that course images will display when you log into the app and access your site. Within their Course Summary Files section, instructors can add personalized images; if this space is left blank, Moodle will provide designs of various colors and patterns instead.
You’ll notice you can also jump to different sections of the course, which allows for quick navigation just like you have when accessing Moodle through a browser. Within any course on the app, you’ll see a drop-down menu icon alongside the course name, as seen below. If you click to select this icon, you’ll see a menu of options appear and you can quickly select a section to jump to.
Moodle HQ has put a focus on the mobile app, determined to make content more accessible to learners despite geographic location and available bandwidth. We anticipate seeing more enhancements in mobile with each coming version of Moodle.
While not an exhaustive list of what’s new in Moodle 3.5, these highlights showcase some of the more important changes (as well as our favorites). Between offering transparency as it relates to user data, continuing to vary options for content delivery, and making the most of Mobile, Moodle continues to position the open-source LMS as a leader in our educational landscape.
If you have additional questions or need help, contact the Moodle experts at eThink.
Moodle’s 3.4 upgrade continued to enhance the user interface and include additional features that make building and editing content an easier process. Read on for details on what improvements in Moodle 3.4 we love most.
User Experience Improvements
One of the most obvious improvements to the user experience is the connection of user tours to the category level. Previously, administrators could create user tours at the site level in locations such as the front page or dashboard, and at the course and activity level. User tours at the site level are helpful to showcase changes to navigation, customization, and the general look and feel of new themes like Boost. If you aren’t taking advantage of this feature to ease your users into these changes you probably should!
Creating user tours that connect to the course level is helpful for showing course content creators where they will go to make edits, access their participants list, or enter the gradebook. Imagine what such an introduction could do for teachers new to Moodle or to your theme!
But what about Moodle sites that have categories for various departments within their organization? Or schools that structure courses by semester? In Moodle 3.4, you can now create user tours that connect to the category level, and each tour can address topics that apply specifically to each category. This means that your Legal department that is using competencies can be shown information different from your Human Resources department that needs to know how to track certificates and badges earned.
Controlling user tour content at the category level is certainly something quite a few of our clients will be pleased to start using.
A much anticipated enhancement in Moodle 3.4 is the changes we see with the calendar. We are now able to drag-and-drop items around the calendar, making moving them to their proper location much quicker. Events that can be moved are those created manually as well as the Feedback activity, Assignment activity, and Choice activity events. Once moved, the dates will change automatically. In previous Moodle versions, events could be created and displayed at the site, course, group, and user level, but now in Moodle 3.4 you can also create an event at the category level. View a short video overview of the improvements to the calendar here.
Setting activity completion is a great way to track completion of activities within your course, and to gauge progress and overall movement. New in Moodle 3.4 is the control that instructors have in marking activities complete on behalf of their students, for both manual and automatically completed items.
This capability gives educators marking flexibility. (Picture checking the quality of forum posts rather than just the total number of them.) This also allows educators to mark activities complete on behalf of learners which is a feature that might be used, for example, when the activity to be completed is a physical one such as a classroom presentation.
This enhancement takes one of our favorite features – the graphical and visually appealing activity completion report – to a new level and is another example of Moodle’s intention to continue to put more control in the users’ hands.
Webinar: What's new in Moodle 3.4?
To learn more about this feature, watch this video or tune into our What’s New in Moodle 3.4 webinar led by our Services Team below.
Or, if you have additional questions or need help, contact the Moodle experts at eThink.
Many of the improvements to Moodle 3.3 are focused on general functionality and bug fixes, but quite a few are improvements to the user experience. Any time we see new features that improve the experience for both course creators and learners, we get excited! However, let us temper that excitement for a moment and explain what’s piqued our interest…Here are what we consider to be the best features of the latest Moodle 3.3 upgrade.
Remind Me to Grade By (as part of Course Overview block)
We like this feature because it helps instructors identify what student work needs their attention. By clearly presenting – on the dashboard in the course overview block – assignments that need grading, this feature streamlines the grading process by making notifications more obvious.
Not only are grading notifications more visible since they are listed on the dashboard page, Moodle provides links to the assignment itself so instructors can jump right into the grading interface and complete the grading process. This efficient setup should help reduce the time it takes to provide feedback to students.
Course Overview on Dashboard
Moodle’s newest upgrade also gives students the ability to see a course overview display on the dashboard, allowing them to view upcoming assignments as well as a visual of how much of their course(s) they have completed. From the course overview block, students can click to enter an assignment and submit without having to jump into the course itself to locate the assignment.
Bulk Edit Activity Completion
This feature is great because it allows you to change activity completion settings for all items within the course at once. You no longer are required to drill into each item’s settings to make this change. You can also set default activity completion settings from this space.
This feature is great because it allows you to accomplish creative course design in a way that is supported by Moodle (instead of the old Orphaned Activities). So instead of having an exhaustive amount of content on the course page that is visible to students, you can now design your course in a way that streamlines what students see.
Moodle has continued to do a great job of listening to community feedback and including features and fixes in the product upgrades that make navigating the Moodle interface that much easier for students and instructors. The enhancements made in Moodle 3.3 certainly add to the already robust set of features and functionality that Moodle possesses, further illustrating why Moodle continues to be a top choice among eLearning professionals.
Webinar: What's New in Moodle 3.3?
During this session, our fantastic Services Team discusses the new features and functionality in Moodle 3.3. Give it a listen below.
Or, if you have additional questions or need help, contact the Moodle experts at eThink.
The new messaging system includes Facebook style messaging options. The new interface makes it easy to access messages and notifications no matter where you are on your Moodle site.
What's New in Moodle 3.2 Webinar
eThink’s Services Team explored these and other new features in detail during a live webinar, What’s New in Moodle 3.2.