The world of Moodle plugins is a maremagnum. Some plugins are hard to classify. Lots of others behave as a bank of little fishes, hard to tell what each one does differently. They all even share the same architectural DNA. But did you know there are dozens of plugin types available? The new interface of the Moodle Plugin home page made us all more aware of the vast number of plugin types available, with a prominent drop-down menu on top (second from the left).
Admittedly, a round-up with every plugin type would be quite long. And not every type has full-fledged plugins worth recommending. Below, we feature Moodle plugins across some types, including the most important plugin types (those tagged ???? ):
Activity ???? : Eduplayer
Activity Plugins create whole pages with new types of content. Unlike most plugins, which are designed to support or enhance content and options for pages, a Moodle Activity is a dedicated page itself with a unique resource.
The Eduplayer plugin creates pages for audio and video resources. They can be uploaded or linked from personal or public repositories, including YouTube. Each page includes playback controls, email sharing options and download links.
Admin Tool: Inactive User Cleanup
These tools help an admin keep a tidy site. They save time by automation. Any other user will usually not notice they are working on a site. That means these tools are doing a great job.
The Inactive User Cleanup allows admins to set up rules to delete user profiles from a site. Several weeks or months of inactivity are often a good reason to free server space. The user candidate of a cleanup can receive email warnings before the decision, and a final cleanup notification.
Authentication Method ???? : LDAP server (Sync Plus)
Authentication methods let users sign up on Moodle sites using login and profile information from other sites. Among the benefits of third-party authentication there is simpler and faster sign-up and login, and outsourcing security management to more robust services.
The LDAP server (Sync Plus) plugin provides a bridge between Moodle and a server with the LDAP authentication standard in place. It simplifies and extends the capabilities from the LDAP functionality already available in the Moodle core. It can, for example, set a time limit after a user has been authenticated on the original server, when they must login again to enjoy access to Moodle again.
Block ???? : Suspend user
The launch last December of Moodle 3.2, with a design striving to harmonize the browser-on-desktop and mobile interfaces, dealt a blow to blocks. You can still add them to your site, but Moodle HQ officially does not recommend blocks, as they are unavailable on mobile. But in the time being, blocks are irreplaceable for many designers and instructors, and many developers out there will still create and maintain blocks for these groups in mind. Even the official Learn Moodle MOOC featured a Twitter block on a Moodle 3.2 site.
The Suspend user block adds a link to an admin page, which leads to options to suspend (forbid access temporarily or permanently, without removing information or changing enrolment status) a user, or a list of users from a CSV file. Understandably, it is an admins-only plugin. Read more here.
Course Format ???? : eTask topics
Course Formats set the basis for a course’s structure. Well in line with the modularity to which Moodle owes part of its name, there are course formats out-of-the box, with additional ones through plugins. Course format is one of the first design decisions when thinking about launching a new Moodle course. They are in the intersection of form and function, and they are so critical to both the practice and technology of the Moodleverse that they have a special place here, in MoodleNews.com.
The eTask topics format provides a grading table on the course page. It allows students to pick and choose activities in order to obtain their passing grade. Teachers can set student grading visible to everyone, or private.
Enrolment Method ???? : Authorize.net
Sibling of the authentication methods, these take care of giving users access to course and contents in the first place. Which means that some of these methods are payment gateways, offering Moodlepreneurs many options to process course payments. Read more on the difference between enrolment and authentication here.
Authorize.net is a popular payment gateway, featuring a number of features they claim are “unsupported by other payment gateways like PayPal“. It accepts all credit cards.
General (Local) ???? : Login as
This category, unlike the others, encompasses a variety of different functionalities. Their common thing is that they are placed on the
/local folder of the Moodle site. This deepens the plugin’s ability to transform bigger parts of a site. Needless to say, user discretion is advised.
The Login as plugin extends and simplifies administrative management of user roles. It can enable a panel with several roles, which users can embody just by clicking on it. It is useful for testing purposes. I personally would like to see it in more demo sites, so I could quickly change between teacher and student roles.
Question Type: CodeRunner
Question Types are a subset of Quizzes, an Activity Type (see “Activity” above). Question Types enhance the assessment itself, often through visual interfaces, and interactivity in general. Another difference of Question Types is their ability to send performance data (grades) to the Moodle Gradebook.
The CodeRunner plugin allows to evaluate student performance over programming tasks. The instructor can grade the code directly, by the code’s outcome, or by testing code provided by the instructor. They can also set the number of times students can run the code before it obtains a passing or perfect score; and whether an additional run charges a penalty on their final grade. Several programming languages are available.
Repository ???? : Office 365
Repositories create or connect with databases and file storage applications and services. They can be stored locally, on the Moodle server, or on third-party data centers. They allow users to save files from Moodle, or retrieve them to submit, such as in the case of assignments.
The Office 365 provides access to the Office and Microsoft cloud repositories, including OneDrive for Business (unclear if it works for OneDrive personal), SharePoint Document Libraries and the shiny new Office Delve. Currently it is available for Moodle 3.1 only.
SCORM Package or Report ???? : Question trends
These types extend Moodle functionality regarding the learning and educational technology standard SCORM, designed to make common educational goals comparable across organizations, courses and LMS providers. Moodle offers SCORM compatibility at least since Moodle 2.7.
However, SCORM functionality is a point of contention in the Moodleverse, and exhibit A of the situation is the fact that the Question trends plugin is the only SCORM type plugin listed. As a SCORM Report type, it means there are no SCORM package type plugins available. The Question trends plugin visualizes response frequencies on SCORM’s multiple choice activities, and classroom right\wrong ratios.
Text Filter: Cincopa
Known by some (with WordPress familiarity) as “shortcodes”, Text Filter types are a gamechanger for Moodle. With just a few special characters, instructors and content designers can turn text pages into powerful interactive hubs with multimedia and rich content. They make it very easy to add videos, sandboxes, and just about any embeddable HTML element through the good old Moodle text editor. And since its functionality is based on text recognition, they can take little space on a Moodle installation. If properly developed, they can replace almost any Activity type (including “Quiz Questions”―see above).
The Cincopa Media filter, once installed, recognizes when the string starting with
[cincopa, including an
ID, and ending with a right square bracket (
]) is written anywhere in Moodle. Then it creates a placeholder with the respective content. The ID must be associated to an item in the Cincopa library, which encompasses hundreds of videos, photos, galleries and slideshows; music files and playlists. In a way, Cincopa is a text filter version of a repository plugin.
Theme ???? : Roshnilite
Themes are another universe within the Moodleverse. With good reason. They define a corporate or institutional identity, from the first impression to the length of a relationship with a learner. Our crowd-pleasing Themes category is the one place to stay on the loop about new themes and technologies.
The Roshnilite (or Roshni Lite) is an impressive theme that might deserve more popularity. Not only it provides a clean and minimalistic layout for courses and sections that promotes HD images and color contrast. Despite the ‘lite’ in its name, it comes with a settings panel boasting “truckloads of customization options“.
Other ???? : PoodLL Widget / Generico Button Maker
This is the land of the outcast. Those plugins who refuse to conform to any of the existing categories end up here. Some are plugins in the making, as subsets include “Utilities” (stripped down functionality), “Experimental” and “Incubating”.
Three “Other” subsets are, suspiciously “PoodLL Widget” types, including the “PoodLL Widget / Generico” to which the Button Maker plugin belongs. It is in fact a Text Filter based on the flexible Generico plugin that creates buttons that give access to links inside or outside the Moodle site. It is compatible with PoodLL and, seemingly, designed as a PoodLL complement, but its functionality is universal.
Language Pack ????: All of them?
Technically, a Language Pack is a Moodle Plugin. More than one hundred language packs are available to install. If you always wanted to be recognized as a Moodle contributor, and have a knack for languages, this is a place that always needs extra love.
Available language packs can be downloaded directly to your Moodle site via . There are regular language packs, or “parents”, and “child” language packs, which feature some regionalization. Moodle sites with active support versions regularly check and update the language packs installed.
See a list of the latest available language packs here. Moodle follows the ISO 631-1 nomenclature.
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