Posts Tagged ‘Moodle’

Moodle 2.2 SCORM Reporting improvements and GSOC

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Ankit Agarwal has been working on restructuring the SCORM reporting code as part of a GSOC project this year. This now allows the standard Moodle plugin functionality to the reporting interface in SCORM – developers can write their own SCORM report plugins and drop them in place in the same way installation of a block/module/standard plugin is done in Moodle.

The initial work involved a large amount of restructuring and very limited (if any) differences in the UI to users…. but Ankit has just finished a new “interactions” report that displays SCORM interactions in a more readable manner – This report is currently available in MDL-28277 and will probably become part of Moodle 2.2 core very soon. This interactions report is something that has been requested a lot in the forums and will hopefully allow teachers to make a lot more sense out of the data that SCORM presents.

Kudos to Ankit for his hard work on this project – it will be interesting to see any new SCORM report plugins that are developed and hopefully the new interactions report provides a useful addition to the SCORM reporting in Moodle! Thanks heaps to Google for funding Ankit’s time to work on the project!

Moodle 2.2 SCORM 2004 and GSOC

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Mayank Gupta has been working on a new test harness that allows us to automatically run the SCORM ADL 1.2 and 2004 tests as part of a GSOC project this year. This also means we can start to run the 1.2 and 2004 tests during Moodle’s weekly integration review to make sure that any new code hasn’t broken SCORM compliance. Previously, running the tests has been a very time consuming task – even for SCORM 1.2 with just 2 SCORM packages to test… SCORM 2004 has 189 different SCORM packages that need testing!

As part of Mayank’s work a small number of SCORM 2004 issues have been resolved in Moodle 2.2 and hopefully with the automated test harness in place it will help to progress with other SCORM 2004 bugs.

If you would like to keep track of Moodles SCORM 2004 progress, add yourself as a watcher to MDL-7068 where each SCORM 2004 test has been added as a task.

If you would like to install the test harness and check it out in action – see the instructions here:

One of the challenges we faced was loading 189 SCORM packages into a Moodle Course – I knocked up a quick script to import bulk SCORM packages that is available on MDL-17822 if anyone is interested!

Mayank’s work has been a valuable contribution and I’m personally appreciative of the effort he put into the test harness – it’s going to save me a LOT of time – and hopefully help to prevent any SCORM regressions from appearing in new versions of Moodle! – and thanks heaps to Google for helping to fund Mayank’s time to do the work!

IE7 and XMLHttpRequest

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

I’ve spent a big part of the last week of my time lost in the abyss of IE 7 and XMLHttpRequest as part of MDL-28295 – it seems that under certain conditions a call to XMLHttpRequest crashes IE 7 when called from a child window….

Posting here in case someone else runs into this weird bug in the hope that it might save someone some time!
Pseudo code:
httpReq = new XMLHttpRequest();“POST”, url,false);
httpReq.setRequestHeader(‘Content-Type’, ‘application/x-www-form-urlencoded’);

When “param” contains something like this it works fine!

but when “param” contains something like this – it crashes IE 7:

Initially I thought the encoding might be the issue and encoding the params using encodeURI() seemed to work – but further testing found it was still an issue.

The fix was to re-structure the code so that it didn’t call the code from a child window but from within the “parent” window…. crazy….


Monday, April 25th, 2011

We’ve just accepted 2 GSOC students to improve the SCORM module in Moodle.

Mayank Gupta will be working on a SCORM Test Harness to allow us to automatically run the SCORM ADL tests on the latest code – this has previously been a time consuming process and can only be performed in IE – this will greatly improve our existing code review process and help to identify the issues with SCORM 2004 support and allow ongoing development without breaking compatibility with previous tests, for more information on this see MDL-26912 – a secondary task for Mayank is to add tracker issues for the failing SCORM 2004 tests and if he has time suggest fixes for a few of them as well.

Ankit Kumar Agarwal will be working on improving the quiz reporting in SCORM – presenting the responses to quiz questions (if the SCORM package reports them back to Moodle) in a more readable manner – for more information on this see MDL-27256 , a secondary task for Ankit(if he has time) is to look at some of the SCORM 2004 tests that are failing and suggest fixes for them.

Malea Praise Marsden

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Malea Praise Marsden A new Addition to the Marsden Whanau – Malea Praise Marsden born 10:21pm 2/12/2010, 3.445Kg(7.6 Pounds)

Free online Moodle courses

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Open Polytechnic of NZ and Flexible Learning Network have just finished developing some new Moodle courses and are offering the courses for free during their pilot!

here’s the full press release:
An exciting opportunity is now available to get qualified in the open source environment.

The launch of the Open Source Learning Laboratory now allows the delivery of high quality, accessible training in open source software.

Specialised courses for effective learning
Six courses specifically designed for the open source environment are available now for enrolment:

  • Moodle Administration – This course will develop the skills and knowledge to configure the Moodle Learning Management System to meet an organisation’s specific learning and development delivery requirements, manage learner and course data, identify security and maintenance issues and deliver appropriate reports for business decision-making purposes.
  • Developing Courses in Moodle – This course teaches the learner how to apply online course design skills using the Moodle learning environment. Moodle is now the predominant learning management system being used in the New Zealand Tertiary Education Sector as well as having a large take-up by education and vocational training institutions worldwide.
  • Technical Documentation – This course will provide students with the knowledge and skills to; make decisions about appropriate technical documentation to meet a specific technical requirement, and business need; how to manage the process of technical documentation production, and how to develop technical documentation according to industry standards within an Open Source development project.
  • Open Source in Business – The course aims to prepare learners to make decisions about implementing an Open Source application including deployment, maintenance and licensing. The course will assist learners to understand the value of different tools or applications in a business context; make choices about software purchases; identify the opportunities for Open Source in a business context.
  • Programming for Open Source Software with PHP – This course provides an introduction to developing programs in PHP and integrating with other technologies to develop Open Source web applications.
  • Open Source Software Development Model – This course will provide students with the knowledge and skills to identify the attributes of an open source (OS) development model, the processes and organizational implications of managing and using such a model in IT development projects and the protocols of working within an open source community context.
  • Dedicated tutors with proven industry experience.
  • Tutor support is available in all courses by experienced tutors with specialist knowledge in the open source environment.

Limited spaces available free of charge
We are currently offering places in all courses free of charge, go to to see details. Courses are short, suitable for part-time study delivered entirely online. Places are limited and are on a first come first served basis. There is also general information on open source technologies, a showcase area and project spaces at

Enrol online today
To reserve your place in any of the courses available, visit and complete your enrolment soon as places are limited.

Turnitin and Moodle

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

With the new Plagiarism API landing in Moodle 2.0 I’ve been working on the Turnitin plugin for Moodle 2.0 and backporting some of the new features in the 2.0 plugin into a new 1.9 version

The 2.0 version has the following features:

  • Single folder for really easy installation – just drop it into a new folder called “turnitin” in the new /plagiarism folder in 2.0
  • Uses Teachers own credentials instead of a “global teacher” account – makes for better integration with Turnitins other products like Grademark
  • I mentioned it above – new “experimental” integration with Grademark. (needs a few victims to test/give me feedback)
  • Better Date handling – uses the start/close dates in Moodle as the start/close dates in the Turnitin assignments it creates (although Turnitin doesn’t like start/close dates before the assignment is created so it uses the earliest possible date instead)
  • More advanced setting of Turnitin features when creating/updating an assignment. You can now set:
    • Whether to compare a submission against other students files
    • Whether to compare a submission against Internet sources
    • Whether to compare a submission against Journals, periodicals, publications
    • When to generate the Originality Reports
    • Whether to use an institutional repository (if set up)
    • Exclude Bibliograpy references from the report
    • Exclude quoted text from the report
    • Exclude small matches from the report
  • Improved performance and handling of errors (still more improvements to come over the next week on the error reporting page)
  • Now creates assignment in Turnitin as soon as Moodle assignment is created instead of waiting for the first file to be submitted (it creates the assignment in Turnitin when the next cron cycle runs after the Moodle assignment is created)
  • Easier integration with other Moodle modules (soon to come) – keep an eye out for integration with essay quiz questions and the Workshop module.

The new Moodle 1.9 version has the following new features:

  • Better Date handling – uses the start/close dates in Moodle as the start/close dates in the Turnitin assignments it creates (although Turnitin doesn’t like start/close dates before the assignment is created so it uses the earliest possible date instead)
  • More advanced setting of Turnitin features when creating/updating an assignment. You can now set:
    • Whether to compare a submission against other students files
    • Whether to compare a submission against Internet sources
    • Whether to compare a submission against Journals, periodicals, publications
    • When to generate the Originality Reports
    • Whether to use an institutional repository (if set up)
  • Improved performance and handling of errors

Sites using an older 1.9 version of the integration that wish to upgrade to Moodle 2.0 must upgrade their 1.9 Turnitin integration first – otherwise they will lose content/data during upgrade.

The new 1.9 version of the code is available as a git branch here:
(this is based off the old mdl19-turnitin branch on so if you’ve been using that it should be an easy switch)
Installation of this on an existing 1.9 site should only be attempted if you can easily manage significant customisations to your Moodle site (and know how to use git) – if this is new/difficult for you, best that you wait untill you upgrade to Moodle 2.0 – you can also get this code in patch or diff format here:…mdl19-turnitin.diff…mdl19-turnitin.patch

The 2.0 version of the code is available as a git branch here:
or you can get it as a zip here:

To install the 2.0 version – just grab the files above and put them in a new folder called “turnitin” under the /plagiarism folder in 2.0

  1. Go to: Admin > Advanced features and select the checkbox “Enable plagiarism plugins” and save the settings
  2. Go to: Admin > Plugins > Plagiarism Prevention > Turnitin configure this page as usual
  3. Select the “Turnitin Defaults” tab and set the default settings you would like when a new module that allows plagiarism is created.
  4. Make sure Scheduled Tasks/Cron is running on your site
  5. Create a new Assignment and make sure Turnitin is enabled
  6. Submit a file
  7. Done!

I’m also working with Sergey Butakov to generate a Moodle 2.0 Crot plagiarism plugin – Crot is an open source based plagiarism tool that uses the MS Live (Bing) Search engine as a backend for comparing results – it’s not quite ready/working yet, but you can check out the progress so far here:

For those wanting to create their own Plagiarism plugin with another tool, I’ve created a “new” template that can be used as a basis for creating your own plugin here:

and developer docs on the api are available here:

It’s important to note that Moodle 2.0 doesn’t include any Plagiarism plugins by default – you must install them separately – but as it is all self-contained in a folder it is very easy to install. Inclusion of Plagiarism Plugins in Moodle Core may be investigated/debated/discussed in future (definitely not before 2.0 final release!)

Always keen to hear feedback – let me know how you go!

Awards Time?

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

With nominations soon closing for the NZ Open Source Awards I’ve just heard about Packt Publishing’s Open Source Awards – It looks like Moodle and Mahara aren’t eligible, but if you’re aware of any open source products that you think should be recognised make sure you nominate them! – Packt are offering cash prizes to the winners and runners-up.

The NZ Open Source Awards are a bit more flexible and a wider range of projects will be eligible but nominations are closing very soon!

SCORM Bug update

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

In preparation for Moodle 2.0 we’ve been going through all the outstanding SCORM bugs in the tracker and have merged many of the fixes into 1.9Stable – we’ve closed over 30 bugs in the past 3 weeks with a range of issues from grading to support of buggy SCORM packages. Piers has also been working on a new SCORM player to hopefully fix a range of issues people have had with the old one – it’s based on the new player that Petr Skoda wrote for the new IMSCP Module in Moodle 2.0.

2.0 is looking like a great release!

New Mahara book

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Packt Publishing just sent me a copy of the new Mahara book:
Mahara 1.2 E-Portfolios: Beginner’s Guide

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and read through a text-book, my eyes tend to glaze over and I find something else to read instead! I’ve also never been very good at sitting down and “studying” – This book surprised me, I was expecting a book detailing the different features in a dry step by step manner, but what I found was quite different. The first paragraph of the content in the book made me feel a little uncomfortable:

So, you’re interested in Mahara? Maybe you are already using it, but you are wondering if you are using it well. Maybe you’ve recently heard of Mahara and you are wondering if this is actually the ePortfolio solution you were looking for? Or, maybe you have been told you have to use it and you just need to get a sense of what Mahara is all about?

The book seemed to be talking to me – that’s not supposed to happen is it? After reading further I began to almost see the writers at the front of a computer lab speaking to me sitting at a PC – this easy to read tone engaged me in the book and the blend of content, hands on activities, and reviews made it an interactive experience – not what I’ve come to expect from the reference manuals I normally have on hand! The book has some great use cases and full detail without overwhelming the reader. It’s split up into logical bite-sized chapters that could be tackled one at a time when the reader has a quiet moment. Packt release this book as an eBook which I found useful – it meant that you could switch over to a web browser and run through the activities on the demo site provided specifically for readers of the book. I have a multi-monitor display which made this easy – some readers will definitely prefer the hard copy. Unfortunately the urls in the eBook weren’t live urls so I had to copy/paste them, but that didn’t take too much effort.

I’d recommend this book to anyone new to ePortfolios or new to Mahara – it gives the reader a really good detailed knowledge of not only the features of Mahara, but how they can be used in a variety of ways for very different groups of people. The book is great for real users – teachers/students/educators – it gives a much “easier to digest”, concise guide than the online documentation. It’s not aimed at Administrators or Developers but if you haven’t implemented Mahara yet it gives some good information for new administrators or those considering Mahara’s suitability towards the end of the book. I’d highly recommend that any organisation running Mahara grabs a hard copy of the book to lend someone when they walk into your office and ask “so what’s this Mahara thing?”

It’s available on Amazon, but cheaper from Packt Publishing who sell the eBook as well.