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At first look, “Athena,” the latest release of Moodle Partner eCreators’ custom Moodle experience “Learnbook”, hits all the right notes. But only diving deeper into pages, menus and customization options reveals how a clean and seamless layout is just the tip of the iceberg in the thorough attention to detail put in by the Melbourne-based company, recognized as one of the fastest growing SMEs in Australia by BRW Fast 100 2016, and the largest Moodle Partner in South East Asia. Singapore’s one and only, it also counts clients in Malaysia and Brunei, besides the United States.
First impressions that matter
A state-of-the-art demo site of “Learnbook Athena” gives an idea of the way it welcomes an organization’s learners. A customizable HD image gallery transitions as a background on its home page. Under the logo, the sign-up form is front and center, integrated with Google and Facebook (or any OAuth2-ready service) for one-click access. The panel next to it is intended for clear instructions, or any high-impact impression that reflects a brand’s vision. As the demo shows, a video is always a great ice-breaker. eCreators wants learners to realize how important their learning experience is for their organization, an idea they will see reinforced as they interact with the site and its contents.
Moodle, the ‘One-Stop Shop’
The course dashboard page shows logged-in users lots to unpack, from side and top menus, to the many subtle tweaks on the interactive course and people galleries made or enhanced by the team. But perhaps the best way to appreciate “Learnbook Athena” best is by first focusing on the “managerial” aspect of the experience. eCreators Customer Education and Engagement Manager Kristian Lofhelm refers to Athena as a “one-stop shop” for learning managers, for which, he figures, Moodle is their main operational hub. To make them feel at home, ample customization options are readily available. Constant outreach helps eCreators anticipate customer requests, but in case they decide to make special requests, Athena doubles as a customer support and ticketing-integrated system.
The left-hand compass
Based on Moodle’s default “Boost” theme, Athena expands on the great ideas laid out by the core developers. The left-side “NavBar” is a perfect example of it. At first sight, it does not steer far from the original, but in reality, it is a fully editable dial that options managers can accommodate at will. Virtually every section, panel and administration tool can be added to the NavBar. A dedicated page lets users arrange and even nest options to their heart’s delight. No more reaching inside the maze of Moodle admin settings to add a new user! One click is all it takes to get anywhere.
True to “Boost” style, the theme is responsive, and the page contents automatically adjust to the collapse or expansion of the bar. As users become acquainted to the interface, the menu can remain collapsed without disappearing, keeping the familiar icons on the screen. The result is a useful, quick-to-adjust item that never gets in the way and always has what you need at your fingertips.
A modern front for your digital retail space
Depending on the client, Moodle is either a corporate training hub, a course management tool, or a learning store. But the endgame is always the same: a seamless experience that reinforces the quality and modernity of the brand. Exhaustive refinements have gone into the dashboard, where courses can be displayed as a list or a grid. On the latter arrangement, profile covers accompany each course, a feature that predates the one now available in Moodle 3.5.
A top bar on the dashboard gives users fast course access with active (“My Courses”), available (“Catalogue”) and “Completed” sections. A real-time search bar is at the center. And left to the “List” and “Grid” display icons, we have the “Timeline,” a widget that, by putting all of your future assignments and duties into perspective, is at both times charming and mind-blowing.
Meet your “Team”
Picking up on what a fair amount of Moodlers consider “slack” on Moodle HQ, eCreators has built a robust institutional directory. Named “Teams,” it consists of both a list of users and a profile page. While these exist in Moodle, Athena shows how key enhancements can make them actually useful places to organize teams (hence the name), promote networking and collaboration, visualize progress, and account for all the learning the Moodle site has made possible. Profile and cover images, interactive dashboards and overviews, and quick messaging options bring them to modern social networking site standards.
Integrations that up the ante
Anticipating the needs of their customers, eCreators has secured partnerships with useful and popular plugin and third-party providers. First-time users of Learnbook Athena will find ready-to-use:
- The H5P plugin for free, open, interactive content creation.
- The Facetoface plugin for booking of spaces and in-person sessions.
- Moodle’s file picker connected to the royalty-free repository Pixabay, extending the principle of “one-stop-shop” to visual media.
- A trial version of Moodle Premium Integrator IntelliBoard’s popular analytics and reporting dashboard. Customers can easily upgrade to the dozens of visualizations and enhanced tools available on its premium version.
Under the hood
Learnbook Athena is a lesson in transparency that makes admins’ ease of use a top priority. Opening the site administration settings reveals another, management-focused dashboard, with live-stats and common actions. Visual charts show user access and system resources, which clients of eCreators managed cloud services may never need to worry about. Besides from their own infrastructure based in AWS, the team can deploy Athena on any cloud or local server configuration. It takes a high level of skills to make everything seem so simple.
Despite the IntelliBoard integration, Athena ships with its own rules-based reporting tool, capable of digging into Moodle’s logs on-demand or automated and under schedule, to generate useful information, easy to export as a CSV file or email, and fully compatible with xAPI.
Connect with eCreators now
With clients in Asia Pacific, Europe and the US, eCreators boasts some of the largest Moodle installations in the world, and a customer base of more than 300 in the government, corporate and Higher Ed spaces. eCreators serves more than 1.4 million learners (and growing) every day.
Learnbook Athena is the latest milestone of a continuous effort in the intersection of high-tech development and refined customer interaction. On the pipeline, extended e-commerce and video repository features will please the growing number of customers ready to bet on the trends.