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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thanks to Year 2011 for introducing me to Moodle, and to allow me to finally finish my Masters Thesis!

2011 was the year that I started blogging about Moodle code and innovations.






I began in May 2011 and after 53 posts, I've come to be fond of this Learning Management System, Content Management System and Virtual Learning Environment called Moodle. In this, my last post of 2011, I'd like to rant on what I like, no, LOVE about Moodle, specifically Moodle 1.9.15:
  1. Over 700 fully customisable mods, blocks and filters, for my Moodle site. Thus making Moodle a true Swiss-Knife tool for the E-Educator.
  2. Themes! Ah.
  3. The Moodle community. So many talented people, who despite their full schedules and full plates of work, still manage to make posts on Moodle.org for the benefit of others like myself.
  4. Sound recording and playback, specifically Nanogong4 and Audio Recorder assigmnent. I'm still waiting for Moodle 2.x to enable Nanogong in-HTML-editor recordings. Ah what a day that would be!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Audioboo - a cool Web 2.0 audio recorder to record and playback audio

Thanks to this post by the prolific Moodlefairy, Mary Cooch, I've learnt about Audioboo today. It's a cool Web 2.0 free recording service with a nice interface.





Screen 1: Audioboo's Homepage

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Enrich your user's learning experience with Mediabird Study Notes (Part 1)

One of my joys in life as a Moodle site administrator is scouring the Net to unearth gems of Moodle activity modules of earlier years. Such is the case with Mediabird Study Notes, which allows you to add private and community note-taking to your Moodle site! Never heard of it Mediabird Study Notes? This blast-from-the-past (April 2009) is a real gem of an activity module for note-taking.


Private Notes 
With Mediabird Study Notes you can have your own personal note-taking database system. This virtual notebook is available to you wherever you go in your Moodle course.

Sharing Your Notes 
You can also share your notes with others who use your Moodle site. Share them with any specified group of people that you choose. You can even be an admin of the group that you create in Mediabird Study Notes. As admin you get to share your notes with, you control who gets access.




Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nadav Kavalerchik's Spelling Bee block for your Moodle 1.9.x site

Here's one from the deep recesses of Moodle.org - a very good Spelling Bee block to challenge your English linguistic and spelling prowess.

Nadav Kavalerchik is a brilliant Isreali chap with a penchat for churning out Moodle custom code like the  Spelling Bee. If ever there were a Nobel Prize for Moodle Open Source coding, this Moodler would be a serious contender (amongst others) for the title. He has written a brilliant piece of code that is the Spelling Bee block.  Created in November 2009 and updated in July 2011.

How it works is simple. Students are presented with an English word they should hear (audio using flash) students can choose one of the three difficulty levels for words.


Screen 1: Easy Level


They are then asked to type in the word they heard and check the spelling. Pressing the "new word" button retrieves a new word from the dictionary. The block's code is based on a http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ igoogle free service. Unless your IBM's Watson, I doubt if you could score high in Nadav Kavalerchik's Spelling Bee block for Moodle.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas isn't Christmas ...

...Till it happens in your heart.


I'd like to share the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus is the reason for the season.

The Christmas story is not complete without this message of hope of Jesus Christ. According to the Holy Bible scriptures, Christ died for our sins,  and was buried and rose again the third day. God has raised Jesus from the dead and made Him Lord. Jesus is alive today and is seated at the right hand of God. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nail that Certification Exam with uCertify.com's "200-530 – Zend PHP 5.3 Practice Test"

As a Moodler with a background in programming, I am keen to improve my PHP and MySQL programming skills. I recently had the opportunity to access and review uCertfy's Z200-530: Zend PHP 5.3 - Evaluation Copy PrepKit. This is my review. However, this is more than just a review on PHP exam preparation. It is also a review of the PrepKit software engine that is the brains and workhorse of uCertify's other Certification preparation products.


Introduction

Certification is the lifeline of any Information Technology (IT) Professional. IT professionals are constantly updating themselves with hard skills through Certification programmes. In a busy world like today, how do you keep pace with current IT skills like Oracle, Windows 7, CCNA, PHP, SQL, etc.?

Enter uCertify.com. uCertify.com specialises in certification preparation software. Now you can simulate the Certification Examination by taking an exam preparation kit by uCertify.

First, little introduction to uCertify. uCertify creates top quality test preparation software for over hundreds of IT certification exams from all major vendors including Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, CompTIA, Cisco, Adobe, ISC-2, EC-Council, LPI, Project Management Institute, and CIW. uCertify offers a superior product with content written by industry experts, and a powerful learning platform that ensures understanding of the concepts being tested. UCertify's mantra is, 'Learn Smarter, not harder'. A visit to uCertify.com will show you that the company has a whole array of commercial certification study aids:


Screen 1: uCertify.com's array of products is dazzling


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wiggly icons on your Moodle site to liven up the interface

Here's a Moodle first I think. First in the WORLD.

I've made use of Dynamic Drive's Shake Image Script to make the images, avatar icons and activity icons on my Moodle 1.9.15+ site go all wiggly. This is my innovation to make the Moodle interface more interesting and visceral.

Demo site:
http://www.moodurian.com
Username: student
Password: sudent

If you move your mouse cursor over your avatar's icon, it will come alive...I mean, wiggle.

The window below is LIVE. Do a mouseover on any one of the blue round icons.




See what I mean? Good.

Below is a screenshot not a live window. Just in case you didn't know.


Synonym filter by Nadav Kavalerchik and Big Huge Thesaurus

Here's a wonderful synonym filter I've just discovered for Moodle. If you teach English you might be interested in this. Maybe even excited.

What's the fuss about? Well here's a filter that allows the user to generate a tool-tip list of synonyms and antonyms just with the push of a mouse icon.

Links:
http://www.tikshuv.org.il/moodle/mod/resource/view.php?id=12095 
http://words.bighugelabs.com
http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/CONTRIB-1664.

Works great with Google Chrome. Note the clean and tidy appearance below:






Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to combine a FLV video and a PowerPoint presentation on the same Moodle page

There are several ways how you can combine a PowerPoint with a video on the same Moodle page.

 I don't know about synchronising a PowerPoint with a video, but I can manage a 3-paned window by using 1995-technology HTML frames coupled with Xerte. Here's a demo of a prototype of what I think you are looking for, minus the synchronisation (which I have no idea how to do): http://www.moodurian.com/xerte2/index2.html
a related post is here:
http://moodurian.blogspot.com/2011/07/t-his-mashup-was-originally-posted-by.html



The PowerPoint was transformed into a flash swf file by using ISpring free version.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Extending the Form Maker

In an earlier post, I introduced the remarkable Form Maker block. The block allowed you to create a data entry form where users could type in data input. The block allows you to output the data in PDF or XLS (Excel) format. Cool! The only problem I faced with it was that it allowed only a maximum of 11 fields. 10 fields plus the default email field. So what happened if you wanted to capture more data with the block? Well, you couldn't because there was no direct way to extend the number of fields beyond the default limit!

Until now. I poked around the code a bit and discovered that you could increase the number of edit fields in the front end by increasing the 10 part of the code to 20, whenever you see the < 10 code in these three files: config_instance.html, block_form_maker.php and block_form_maker_submit.php.


\config_instance.html (2 hits)
Line 61:  for ($i=0; $i < 10; $i++) {
Line 207:  for ($i=0; $i < 10; $i++) {
\block_form_maker.php (1 hit)
Line 44:  for ($i=0; $i < 10; $i++) {
\block_form_maker_submit.php (2 hits)
Line 20:  for ($i=0; $i < 10; $i++) {
Line 46:  for ($i=0; $i < 10; $i++) {

Change those lines to:

\config_instance.html (2 hits)
Line 61: for ($i=0; $i < 20; $i++) {
Line 207: for ($i=0; $i < 20; $i++) {
\block_form_maker.php (1 hit)
Line 44: for ($i=0; $i < 20; $i++) {
\block_form_maker_submit.php (2 hits)
Line 20: for ($i=0; $i < 20; $i++) {
Line 46: for ($i=0; $i < 20; $i++) {


After editing the files, save them back to their original filenames and FTP them back to the block's folder in your production or test site.

However, that's not the end of it. You also need to edit the block_form_maker table and add more fields into it. Whazzat? Don't worry, all you need is to download and install the popular phpMyAdmin tool. Then go to Administration | Server | Database to list the tables of your Moodle database. Like so:





Sunday, December 11, 2011

Upgrading your Moodle 2.1.x site to Moodle 2.2

Moodle 2.2!





If you're running Moodle 2.1.x and wish to upgrade to the latest new-fangled Moodle 2.2, then here's an EXCELLENT resource, generously littered with clear screenshots.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Nadav's HTMLAREA Toolbar Extentions

I just spent the larger part of my weekend extending my Moodle 1.9.14's HTMLArea Toolbar. Many thanks to the prolific and brilliant Nadav Kavalerchik. See the moodle.org plugin page.


Hadav's work is amazing!. He has increased the pedagogical value of Moodle right from the Editor itself.

For me the most useful plugins that has has added to the Moodle editor functionality are:
1. Drag and Drop image adder (a must-have for any Moodle site! Previously only the admin or teacher could add images to the editor. Students could only insert images by giving the URL)
2. Insert PDF (no more having to figure out the HTML embed codes)

3. VideoRecorder (FANTASTIC. Thanks for Kevin Brake (and Vimas Technology)!)

Friday, December 2, 2011

How to install the Accordion Resource on Moodle 1.9.14


Abrar Ullah's Accordion Resource Editor 2009 module allows you to hide and display labels and Moodle resources and activities at will. I absolutely love using it on my Moodle site. In this post, I will show you how to install it on the latest (as of December 2011!) Moodle 1.9.14.

Firstlly, here's what it looks like on my production site:



Here's what the course page looks like after I click on the Video Accordion tab:

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