In 2018, the team behind Moodle stayed true to give the world’s best LMS an out-of-the-box makeover. Great news, and without a doubt a sound strategy to bring in people who want a system that works as soon as opened. This means the first one worth mentioning is “Boost,” the theme that sparked a new era of usability in Moodle and represents today’s modern look and feel.
For a vast community of Moodlers, however, tweaking and customizing is what Moodle is actually about. No other LMS gives so much flexibility and control. And perhaps the greatest illustration of Moodle’s shape-shifting abilities is its themes. Thanks to Moodle themes, users and designers are able to materialize great educational, instructional or just general learning ideas.
The best themes are those that allow you to give the right focus to the right functionality. (Of course, it helps to know what you want to get out of your Moodle site.) Any one pick of the following selection gives you a solid choice that will enhance your Moodle practice, even if they are better suited for some use cases than others. And they are all compatible with at least Moodle 3.5.
These themes just slipped out of the top, but still offer a sound and reliable experience. They all have been available for years, and while unlike formerly glorious themes whose fate is sealed, their development continues, but strong competition kept them just outside the gates of our rankings.
All time best up to Moodle 3.5
In our latest check-in of the top themes of all time, we looked at the stats in the Moodle Plugin Directory. They include top favorites, most downloaded, and used by the most sites. There are few surprises, many unfortunate: Some of the most popular in past years have fallen out of sync with Moodle release schedule. Examples include the “Boost” family by Eduardo Kraus, “Aardvark,” or
Moodlerooms Blackboard Open LMS “Snap.” There’s still hope for a comeback!
But focusing on the bright side, here is the Moodle Theme Pantheon:
- “Adaptable” (#1 Moodle Plugin Directory Most Downloaded)
Best themes of all time, Moodle 3.6 compatible
While the themes above still provide a reliable and quality experience, the following themes deserve a special recognition for its readiness. Shortly after the release of Moodle 3.6, they are already compatible with its potentially stunning new features. Kudos to their developers, often volunteering their time for the greater good!
One of the key technical differences of the 3.6 track compared to the previous ones is the update to the Bootstrap framework v4. If you want to keep your Moodle site sharp, the following is the list to keep in your mind:
- “Essential” (#1 Most Fans at the Moodle Plugin Directory, #1 Most Moodle Sites Using It)
- “Joomdle Bootstrap” (Joomdle exclusive, ‘Early Bird’ Moodle 3.6 Badge Awardee)
The best Moodle themes of 2018 according to our readers
Unless indicated otherwise, all these themes are Moodle 3.6 compatible.
#10. “Adaptable” (Moodle 3.5)
It is a matter of time before we witness a new release of which is probably the most interesting Moodle theme in history, according to the unmatched number of downloads. Still, this placement feels less than stellar for the rockstar team of Jez H, Fernando Acedo and Manoj Solanki. Hopefully they will accept the challenge posed by the rest of the list, with groundbreaking surprises for 2019.
Another giant who’s seen better days, but whose track record still represent a commendable challenge for newcomers. Modern-day favorites still have a long road ahead to overcome the 10-thousand-plus sites who rely on Gareth Barnard’s creation.
#7. “Nalanda” (Moodle 3.4)
Continuing with DualCube’s showcase, this time the premium offering is a bundle of useful, ready-to-use features, such as e-commerce and social implementations, as well as dedicated testimonials, galleries and team page templates.
#6. “Edwiser RemUI” (Moodle 3.4)
Special, reday-made course formats. Drag-and-drop layout design. Quick plugin integration upon request. Need we remind you why this “made in India” Moodle-based product is a crowd favorite among premium users?
When it comes to “upgrade” your Moodle feel, look no further than “Degrade.” Its name alludes to the color gradients the theme elegantly lets you add to the experience. The “Boost” family of themes might be in hibernation, but Eduardo Kraus mastery at work is decidedly not.
#4. “Foundation” (‘Early Bird’ Moodle 3.6 Badge Awardee)
The most ambitious teaser of the year is “Foundation” by Gareth Barnard. While most of the themes in the list stand on the mighty load-bearing basis that is “Boost,” this theme suggests newer, possibly more powerful avenues for the Bootstrap framework. We look forward to see the new development for which this theme will become the “Foundation.”
#3. “Moove” (Moodle 3.5)
This is not just a great theme made by an expert Moodler. Like many in this rank, it outstands not because it answers the problems for every user (something pretty much impossible when we are talking about Moodle), but because it empowers them to solve, craft and execute. And just like the next theme, it is the result of constant evolution tied both to the latest technology available, as well as the continuous feedback from a local community.
#2. “Fordson” (#1 Best Moodle Theme of 2017)
Truly the theme that represents the future of Moodle technology, “Fordson” continues its rise for a second year. It’s exceptional quality comes well joined by the high regard towards the always attentive Chris Kenniburg and the Dearborn Technology team. The Moodleverse sets its eyes in what you guys come up with next! (No pressure ????)
#1. Learnbook “Athena” (Moodle 3.5)
Overall, it was a fantastic year for Moodle themes. As we mentioned earlier, any theme highlighted here is set to deliver on a high-grade Moodle experience for all kinds of users. But incredible things are being done at Moodle Partner eCreators’ engineering team. The end-to-end experience of “Athena,” theme for Moodle-with-a-twist Learnbook LMS, can be simply described in one word: Delightful. It might be a premium theme only available to customers of eCreators, but definitely worth a look by organizations with at least a few hundred learners to take care of. Seamlessly crafted, “Athena” is both the best tool and partner an open learning organization can have.
Our coverage on the Tech behind LMS and Learning System is supported by Moonami, a company that provides a full range of Moodle services that combine the flexibility, scalability, and power of Amazon’s world-leading cloud platform (AWS) with fanatical Moodle support. Click here to learn more.