Goodbye 2011.... Hello 2012

Goodbye 2011, it's been a good year and slightly sad to see you go, but all good things must come to an end.

Here are some personal stats from the year gone by

 - I've become a dad!
 - I've seen 136 films (13 less than last year) and been to the cinema 5 times
 - I've got over 500 twitter followers @sukhwantlota
 - I've written 33 Blog Posts, most of which were Moodle related
 - My blog has had 5700 hits with over 10,500 page views from 119 countries
 - My most popular post was -Trance Music at the turn of the Century
 - My most popular Moodle post was - Introducing Moodle Leeds City College
 - I've taken over 5,000 Photos (17gb)

Have a wonderful 2012

Top 2011 Playlist

Moodle Live Stats

Today we've launched a new public statistics page on Moodle.  This has been done as request of the management of the college who would like an easy way to view important Moodle Statistics.

The page shows live statistics such as Total Logins, Unique Logins, New Resources Added, Course Views, New Accounts Created, Forum Posts, Assignment Submissions and Messages Received and Read since the start of this academic year in September.

Eventually more and more statistics will be added to this page making it into a live dashboard, which would be quite nice given the size of Leeds City College Moodle.

Have a look for yourselves as

Real-Time with Google Analytics

Having recently activated Google Analytics for Leeds City College Moodle I was keen to try out the new Real-Time option on the new version of Analytics.

The Real Time option is a new live view of the Moodle's statistics showing exactly where everyone is and what they are doing.  It shows you how many active users are online right now, how many pageviews the site has had, top active pages, top locations and top keywords.... Pretty impressive!.

best of all... it's free.

I would recommend Google Analytics for Moodle Administrators who are keen to monitor the sites usage and statistics.

Moodle User Group

On the 6th October 2011 I attended the first of this years RSC Yorkshire and Humber Moodle User Group at Leeds City College.  Overall it was an interesting day and it's always a pleasure to meet fellow Moodlers from the region.

for more information about the things we covered you can view the tweets from the event here

Pushing Moodle Content to Twitter (Course)

As a Moodle developer I'm always looking for new ways to help engage learners with Moodle.  One way of doing this is to push content from a Moodle forum (news feed) to a Twitter account using RSS.  We now have a few teachers who like this as most of their students are already on Twitter.

If you are interested in setting this up for your class, I've created a short course on how you can set this up so you can push content from Moodle forums to a twitter account.

It's a pretty basic course but a small amount of Twitter and RSS knowledge is required.

You can view the course here
a short URL to the course is here

The Official Moodle iOS App has landed

Finally the official iOS Moodle App has hit the ITunes App Store. You can install the app from here

Don't forget that you do need a moodle 2.1 install and you need to enable Mobile Web Services. You can find this option in the Settings Block

Select Site Administration
Select Plugins
Select Web-Services
Select External Services
Tick Enable mobile web service

Via SomeRandomThoughts

Keep Calm & Keep Moodling

I created this poster using the Keep Calm online generator. Feel free to print it out and put it up in your office!

Moodle 2 Notes

Here are some notes whilst using Moodle 2 regarding the Feedback module and Embedded Videos.

The Feedback module rocks! it's so much better than the questionnaire module, which was full of bugs.  Creating surveys is now a breeze especially with the import/export feature.  I've actually saved about 2 hours (creating 10 surveys) with the ability to import/export and duplicate resources. 

Videos embedded within the book module were broken in Moodle 2.  As Moodle 2 no longer uses Longtails JW player this has killed about 2000 embedded videos within courses.  To fix this I copied the flash player back into the filters folder on the Moodle server and as the .flv files had copied over with the upgrade (legacy files) you could still link directly to them. Win!

Below is a copy of the code I've used to embed videos into webpages, lables and books.


<your moodle>/filter/flvplayer/player.swf"
<your moodle>/file.php/578/video67.flv"

I think it's safe to say that I'll be carrying on embedding videos into webpages, Lables and books :-)

How to Print/Echo the Moodle Sesskey (Session Key)

Whilst developing some custom pages I wanted to create a custom link to login as a particular user.  In order to login as a user you need a couple of variables, the users moodle id, and the your session key.

To print/echo the session key within Moodle you need the following line of code :-

echo $USER->sesskey;

History Teaching with Moodle 2 By @johnmm [Book Review]

I was asked by Packt Publishing if I wouldn't mind doing a quick review of the book History Teaching with Moodle 2 by John Mannion which I jumped at the chance as we have just finished upgrading Leeds City College Moodle to Moodle 2.

I was always told to never judge a book by it's cover but at first glance, reading through the table of contents, the book covers a vast range of Moodle tools from the basics of working with images right up to some advanced features such as setting up RSS feeds and integrating Moodle with Xerte and Audacity. 

I love the fact that the Book encourages use of Open Source Software such as Firefox, Gimp and Audacity and pushes teachers to try something different which we all know can be difficult to do.

The Book explains how using Moodle will be beneficial to both Teachers and Students.

Chapter 1: Course Structure - This chapter emphasises the importance of setting up the initial structure for the course which in return makes it easier to build.  John also talks about getting users to interact with Moodle forums.  This chapter also takes you through how to create the course, choose a course format, naming the course, choosing a category and enrolling users.

Chapter 2: Create Attractive Courses - This chapter takes you through the basics of making your course more attractive and appealing to students.  It walks you through using GIMP as an image editor and inserting images into Moodle.  The chapter does also discuss how to upload multiple files to moodle using a Zip file (something I believe that all teachers should be able to do)

Chapter 3: Adding Interactive Content - This chapter takes you through using some of Moodles interactive elements such as Assignments and Glossaries, which gives students the ability to submit their work through moodle and contribute to the course glossary.  The chapter does show you how to modify student roles giving them permission to add to the glossary (Something teachers are usually afraid of doing).

Chapter 4: Quizzes - The title of the chapter is self explanatory, I think it's one of the most underused areas of Moodle.  The chapter walks you through the various types of questions, how to create a quiz, creating matching questions, creating multiple choice questions and true or false questions as well as explaining how to manage the results.

Chapter 5: The Gradebook - This chapter walks you through using the Moodle Gradebook, again, another underused feature in Moodle.  It shows you show to work your way up from some of the basics right up to some of the advanced features of customising the gradebook for your class.

Chapter 6: Student Collaboration - This section shows you how to create ways for students to work together online using core Moodle tools such as, Polls, Databases and Wikis.

Chapter 7: Lessons &amp; Blogs - This chapter shows teachers how and why they should use Lessons and Blogs within Moodle. It takes you right through from setting up a blog and lesson to adding activities and other interactive elements. Great Chapter.

Chapter 8: Using Xerte &amp; Audacity - The chapter takes you through setting up and using Xerte for your Moodle course, it shows you how to download Xerte and create different interactive activities such as, drag and drop, interactive diagrams and multiple choice quizzes.  This chapter also shows you how to download and install audacity and use it to edit audio.

Chapter 9: Moodle Workshops - This in-depth chapter shows you how to use Moodle Workshops to allow students to assess the work of fellow students, similar to a classroom environment.  It also takes you though enabling the workshop module, creating a workshop and using smart questions.

Overall this book is simple to understand but yet powerful in it's execution.  It's easy to follow and understand and sutible for Moodle 2 novice's and experts alike.

if you are a History teacher and you have access to Moodle then this book is definitely for you.

My first week with #Moodle 2

So I've been using Moodle 2 for about a week in a live environment at Leeds City College and here are some thoughts.

Assigning Child and Meta courses are totally different, there is no longer a "Child Course" link in the Admin menu, you now have to goto Admin > Users > Enrolment Methods and add a course link.  Finding a a course to link too has also changed, it's all in 1 long drop down list odd at first but once you get used to it, you'll see that it's actually faster and easier than the previous method

I miss the Related Courses block, I'm not sure if the 1.9x version is compatible with Moodle 2.x yet, I'll have to investigate. (On further investigation, the Related Courses Block is kind of not needed any more, you can see all relationships within the Enrolment Methods option)

All our custom pages have been successfully transferred into Moodle 2.1, this was surprisingly simple.

Changing core icons in Moodle 2 is a pain, you can't just simply right click and view location and override the file with a new one any more.  I have read that icons can be changed within CSS (This would be ideal for us) (Info Here)

I totally love the new way Moodle 2 Assigns Roles, this works like a dream.

The Settings block has grown on me, I wasn't too keen at first but you soon realise how powerful this bad boy is

I miss being able to save directly to the Moodle server course directory but I do appreciate why there is a global repository.  In Moodles defence you can set up a custom course repository just for that course where you can then drag files directly from the computer to the course.

I love the Duplicate Resource button, this will be a huge time saver for me and teaching staff, gone of the days where you have to sit there and create 30 individual assignments.

Overall I'm pleased that we've made the Jump to Moodle 2.1.  We're done, it works and all these little tweaks and niggles will no doubt get ironed out as soon as the academic year progresses.

Did I mention that we are now 100% core, everything has now been modified in the Theme. :)

Leeds City College Goes #Moodle 2

After an intense week, Moodle at Leeds City College has been upgraded from Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2.1.

Moodle Bar as gone and been replaced with a Twitter/Google type bar at the top of every page, we are looking to incorporating this bar into all student related systems to help unify web applications.

The theme has been completely re-written from the ground up keeping to Leeds design standards.  The width of the site has gone up from 900px to 960px, this surprisingly gave us much more space for content since we can now have centre blocks.

There are still a few tweaks, glitches and some functionality to be added but as we've learnt in the past, a theme is never finished, it's always work in progress.

For more technical information regarding the upgrade process, check out Lewis Carr's Blog here

Also, don't forget to pop by and let us know what you think here

How my life has changed since the iPhone.

10 Reasons to upgrade to #Moodle 2

As we've just been given the go ahead to upgrade to Moodle 2, I've created a handy little poster which outlines 10 reasons why you should upgrade to Moodle 2.  There are a lot more than 10 reasons to upgrade but these are just the ones I found important.

If you are on a mobile device, click here to view a text only format.

Is Social Media Ruining Students? [Infographic]

#Moodle Password Resets

At Leeds City College we are no stranger to resetting passwords for students and sometimes staff who have forgotten them and just looking at some statistics has reviled some surprising numbers.

Since January 2011 we have reset 1686 user passwords
most of these have been due to users forgetting their LDAP password.

Now considering we have over 20,000 active users this isn't really a huge number but still 1686 password resets is a lot of edit profiles for any institution.

My Top 8 Favourite Desktop Wallpapers

1. Superman by Ahmed Chergaoui

2. Blend HD by freakyframes

3. Blend by freakyframes

4. Paul Smith by gtmini

5. Rainbow Rain by Unil Chan

6. Retro Wooden Wall by kano98

7. Blah by freakyframes

8. Dark Wood by Anowia

Sitting is Killing You

Here's a handy little infographic on how Sitting is Killing you, it actually makes you think how much you actually sit down all day with work, car and watching TV etc.


Moodle Show/Hide button explained

We constantly get a lot of students asking why their course content has vanished.  In this case I have created a simple screen shot expanding the Moodle Show/Hide process.

it really is that simple, honest!

Moodle Moot UK 2011 #mootuk11

Moodle Moot UK 2011 has begun at the ULCC in London and for reasons out of my control I'm unable to attend this year, but here's what I've learnt thanks to the #mootuk11 Twitter feed. (here)

1. Moodle is now being released every 6 months
2. An official Moodle iOS app is in development (later android) which will also work off-line. this will be available in Moodle 2.1.
3. Moodle 2.1 due to be released in June 2011
4. Better Docs, more paid staff to maintain this area.
5. @moodle_dan asked if we could have a 'like' style system for resources/activities etc?
6. Blackboard is under offer -
7. Microsoft use Moodle for training and development.
8. UK has been overtaken by Brazil in number of Moodle sites

I hope all the attendees had a great time and I'll be planning on attending next year, work permitting!

Breaking News: Twitter offers to buy Moodle @moodler

Twitter, the social network that we all know and love has put in an bid to purchase Moodle from Martin Dougiamas, they are believed to be re-branding and re-launching Moodle as 'Moodler'.

Below is a screen shot of how 'Moodler' might look

A spokesperson for Twitter has confirmed that they have spoken to Mr Dougiamas regarding the Purchase of the Virtual Learning Environment for an undisclosed amount, the deal is to include Martin's personal twitter account @moodler

Mr Dougiamas has declined the sale of Moodle on the grounds that twitter would also want his twitter account @moodler back

Professor Pilar Lofo from the Leeds City College Virtual Learning & Business committee has gone on the record stating that it would be disastrous if Moodle was sold to twitter as users would spend all day checking tweets and not actually getting any work done.

Would you mind if you could check your tweets and assignments at the same time? Justin Beiber would agree.

Create your own FourSquare infographic with

I always knew there was a reason for all those FourSquare check-ins, and this is it. creates a Infographic based on your Foursquare data.

Give it a go at

Battlestar Galactica Space & Timeline

Below is an amazing infographic by Billy Ray Stephen Jr.  It gives you a visual representation of the entire Battlestar Galactica time line right from the very start of humanity on Kobol to the present day on New Earth.

Click to zoom


10 iPhone/iPad apps I can't live without

As mobile devices are getting increasingly popular I thought it was a good time to show you my 10 iOS apps I can't live without.

1. Logmein Ignition (iPhone/iPad) £17.99 - I've been using Logmein long before I've had an iPhone or iPad and this app is just short of magic, in fact its the only app that's never crashed on me.  It allows you to remotely access your home PC or Mac.  This works like a dream over 3G and Wi-Fi, even faster if its on the same internal network.  Its a bit expensive and I had to think twice before making this purchase but its worth it just for the gesture control alone to quickly pull up and hide the keyboard (Apple could learn a thing or two from Logmein) 

2. Air Video (iPhone/iPad) £1.79 - This is one of the first apps I bought for the iPad, it seamlessly allows you to stream pretty much any video format from a computer to your iOS device on the same network. You also have advanced options to convert videos before you stream or if your computer can handle the processing power, you can do a live convert and stream.

3. Echofon Pro for Twitter (iPhone/iPad) £2.99 - This is the only Twitter app I really enjoy using, and I've tested quite a few.  This nifty little app is ridiculously intuitive, and has gone with the flow and even evolved with Twitter, regularly adding core twitter features, lists, local trends etc....  One of the best features of echofon is that it can sync your read tweets so you don't have to re-read your tweets if you use multiple devices, not to mention having the ability to mute people you follow. Spot on!

4. Runkeeper Pro (iPhone) Free - This little beauty has been free since January and is a must for anyone who enjoys running.  One of the key features I like about this app is how simple it is to use, simply press start and it will automatically play your saved music playlist, track your location via GPS and feed you audio queues every 5 or 10 minutes informing you of key information. I have to say this this app has filled my quest for tracking exercise perfectly and giving you a nice web based interface to play with too. Could I ask for any more, for free?

5. Flixter (iPhone/iPad) Free - this app is a must for film and cinema lovers alike, it  gives you local cinema listings, movie trailers and much much more.  Gone of the days of checking each cinema website individually, everything is now under one roof and works like a dream.

6. Reeder (iPhone/iPad) £1.79 - This app is a must for any Google Reader users, I've never been too keen on the standard Google Reader mobile interface on iOS devices and thats where this app comes into its own.  It's simple interface takes advantage of the touch screen, giving users the ability to swipe to read, like and star items which then automatically sync back to your Google reader account.

7. Units (iPhone) free - A nifty app to convert units, its simple and works.

 8. Blogpress (iPhone/iPad) £1.79 - A great blogging tool which allows you to publish blog posts on the fly.  Its compatible with numorous blogging websites, blogger, wordpress etc and is simple to use.  You can even upload your photos to your picassa web album. I've used this app for quite a few posts on my blog.

9. Live Traffic Info (iPhone) Free - A very simple app which shows you a feed of any traffic problems on the UK Motorway Network.  I dont use this app often but its proven to be invaluble when I have travelled.

10. IMDB (iPhone/iPad) Free - One of the oldest websites on the internet continues to evolve with their iOS app.  its simple to use, fast and quite slick too, making it a dream to view information on Movies and Films.

Internet content filtering in education

I've worked in education for a few years now and I think it's pretty safe to say that colleges/universities need content filtering on the Internet, however when does content filtering go too far?

In my educational institute we've always had social networking websites, Youtube, Online file storage sites etc. blocked for all, this has always been like this and we've kind of learned to accepted it, but should we accept it? Mashable did an interesting post regarding the openness of the Internet and how it can improve productivity at work (Link to Post) and I totally agree.  It's just a shame that the powers to be don't care/not interested enough to do anything about it.

Now as times move on with the integration of social media in education and influx of smart mobile technologies, is it finally time to loosen the belt? especially as students in the UK will be paying up to £9000 per year for the privilege of attending a Higher Educational institute (BBC)

I feel that Higher Education students will start to call the shots and demanding open access, after all, educational institutes are like any other business, they have to keep the customers happy.

In no other industry would we accept this, but in education we do, strange....

Moodle 2 upgrade... The journey so far....

So this week I've been playing with Moodle 2 and seeing if it's feasible to upgrade this summer, ready for the new academic year in September.

in short, yes but no.

In the current state we are no where near ready to upgrade to Moodle 2 for many reasons such as our theme, custom mods, 3rd party blocks etc.  So I started to work my way through Moodle 2 trying to understand how things work, most things are the same if not slightly different.  This reminds me of when I first used Office 2007 not sure how to do basic things.

The Leeds City College Moodle theme will need to be re-done, pretty much from scratch, this will help with cleaning up some code and making sure it doesn't clash with any core Moodle functionality.

The upgrade process which is a whole new ball game, initial upgrade tests show that Moodle works and it's not that bad considering our tweaks and mods, we just have a problem with upgrading the course_meta table which seems to break the ability to do meta/child courses in Moodle 2 (Lewis has added this to the tracker) (Update 17th Feb 2011, this has been fixed)

Some of the new features I like in Moodle 2 are how easy it now is to manually enrol someone onto a course, it's the future!  The Navigation Block which looks to have totally removed the need for Tabs within Moodle and I love the way Moodle has now been simplified to add a resource, File, Folder, Label.... this will make training that much easier.

I'm not too keen on the Dock at the moment, but maybe this will change the more I use it.

I still have some more testing to do, to make sure some important features will still work after the upgrade process such as the Online Users Page and Moodle Folders but so far apart from the Meta/Child course problem I would say we are progressing well..... until the next problem arises.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Doctor Who

Click for full size image

Via (Bob Canada)
More awesome Bob Canada images

Word Lens App: Science Fiction Becomes Science Fact

As technology is making the world a smaller place, it was just a matter of time before translation technology took an evolutionary leap forward thanks to the Word Lens iOS app.  Using Augmented Reality it not only translates the text of the image but matches the font and replaces it on the original image. Impressed? you will be after watching the video.

The initial app is free which allows users to hide and reverse text, if you want translate between Spanish and English you can purchase the language packs for £5.99.

Moodle Questionnaire Module

This is an update of my previous Blog Post: Why I Love the Moodle Questionnaire module

The Moodle Questionnaire Module has been updated and I can confirm that it has had some much needed updates, it's now much more intuitive to use and it feels like a core Moodle module rather than a 3rd party add-on.

The settings and results have now been incorporated into the standard Moodle tabs, again helping with the unified Moodle look and feel.

The layout of the questions have also been updated, now giving a fresh and clear view to the end user.

The questions page has also been updated, now making its simple to move, edit and update questions.

Tutors can now choose to grade the questionnaire, this can be enabled in the settings page.

If you haven't got the Questionnaire Module on your Moodle you can download it from here

Passwords after holidays……

It can’t be just me can it? Am I the only person who remembers my entire list of computer passwords during the holidays? It seems so, well as far as our Moodle stats are concerned.  Over 400 password resets during the 2 weeks the college was closed, which isn’t much considering the amount of user that users that use Moodle everyday, but it's still 400 users, not counting students who have asked their password to be reset since returning to college which is about 50 per day.

I do understand that not everyone is a geek like me and that systems like, college email and Moodle might not be important as their own personal email, facebook, Amazon etc. but surely it can’t be that difficult to remember a few passwords, can it? After all I have to do it everyday.

Movies I've seen (2011)

Movies I've seen has moved into its own blog, check it out

For a list of Movies I've seen over 2010 click here

Goodbye 2010, It was fun while it lasted.. Welcome 2011

So 2010 has been and gone, it was fun while it lasted but like all good things, it must come to an end.  It's been full of highs and lows but I'm grateful for being around for another year.

Lets see what 2011 brings, more joys and laughter, more gadgets and toys and more food and drink.

Here are some personal stats of the year gone by :-

  • - I've seen 149 Movies, for a full list click here.
  • - I liked 50 Songs, for a full list click here.
  • - I've written 61 Blog Posts of which 25 posts where about Moodle.
  • - I've been to the Cinema 11 times and seen 7 Blu Ray Movies.
  • - I've Increased my Google Docs usage by 100%, almost totally living in the cloud.
  • - My Blog has had 4922 hits with 10276 Page views from 105 different countries.
  • - My Blog has been redesigned twice.
  • - My most popular blog post was "How to access the new Sky+HD EPG Installer Menu" with 775 Pageviews.
  • - My most popular Moodle post was "5 tips to enhance your Moodle course" with 683 pageviews.
  •  - The most common Google Search which lead to my blog was "keep calm and exterminate" which linked to a Doctor Who post.
Have a wonderful 2011 and a Happy New Year