Looking for a simple, “hackish” way to color-code your LMS according to courses, or add pop-ups? Want to get acquainted with the Gradebook in more “natural” ways? And what’s the deal with Blackboard Data?

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Here are some of the most popular discussions at the Blackboard Community Forums in the past week. The focus on BOLMS and its signature “Snap” theme, but the lessons are general enough for any license-free or proprietary Moodle version.

Quick editing colors for courses and headings

The universe of LMS questions and requests is full of small ideas that make you go, “Huh, that should be able to accomplish easily!”

While that might not always be the case, I think it speaks highly of the creativity and potential to continuously enhance the learning experience.

One such case is this request, to be able to customize colors of elements such as menus, backgrounds or colors? That way, the student will find a difference and visual consistency.

Is it possible to accomplish this on a Moodle-based LMS, and if so, how?

The community stepped up with two possible paths. Both involved themes featuring “presets.” You can think of a theme preset as a sub- or “child” theme, although they are a lot more limited in scope. In this case, this is ideal, as we are only looking to make few tweaks on the overall theme experience.

‘Snap’ theme

BOLMS’ own “Snap” theme provides presets on its configuration page, as well as custom CSS editing, which allows for a broad array of visual changes beyond colors, but it requires some basic CSS coding skills.

“Snap” also offers course-based background images. An admin or teacher with editing capabilities will see a “Change cover image” button on the top-right of the course home page.


‘Boost’ theme

The current default layout of Moodle is a reflection of Moodle’s new visual identity. It is also a launchpad for theme customization and entirely new developments. It’s modern standards, including the use of the latest version of the popular Bootstrap 4 web development framework, make of “Boost” a visual learning sandbox.

Just like “Snap,” Boost provides presets and CSS customization.


Quick natural gradebook?

If you love your open LMS, but are aware of the prevailing hurdles and challenges when using it, you can trust that the same caring community is the first to have a refreshing and honest take on what works and what doesn’t work so well.

And when it comes to features that many still do not see as a fully realized product, the Gradebook will always feature in conversation. But is it because it is still not good at what it does, or because it does so many things too well, as long as you know what you are doing?

In this conversation about “Natural Police” Gradebook, prolific contributor ab37750 touches on this very issue through a practical example. In Gradebook lore, “Natural” means the contribution of each assessment to the final grade must be, well, natural. That is, in the sense that the value (and weight) of an activity should reflect its level of challenge, as well as student “responsiveness.”

This all may sound overly complicated. Why not just average every assessment and be done with it? Well, as our contributor explains, natural weighting is actually a way to address the problem simply, while giving you flexibility to reward certain student decisions that would otherwise escape the Gradebook. You can award extra scores to those who deliver their homework early; or allow high-scoring activities to be worth more on the final grade. These are just two examples. The message: Use the Gradebook to “naturally” elicit desired learning behavior from students and properly rewarded.


Quick LMS pop-ups?

This is a tricky one, that digital marketers might appreciate better.

How can you add pop-ups on your learning? But above all, should you?

While the debate is nowhere near settled, there is a more or less established understanding on them: Nobody likes them (not even marketers). But they give results. When it comes to creating conversions, or in the case of learning, to make sure they are properly informed about any eventuality, a pop-up message is often the unbeatable option.

As users replied to the request on how to add a Pop-up to their LMS, no platform that they (nor we) know about provides built-in pop-up functionality. There are also no Moodle plugins that enable this. The closest you can get to Pop-Ups in Moodle-based LMS are:

  • If you set up a Glossary, the system automatically activates a text filter on words with entries appearing in places like Forums or Quizzes. Clicking on it will show the Glossary definition.
  • User Tours are technically pop-up based.

A more “experimental” option for advanced users is mentioned on the discussion. It involves adding custom JavaScript code using the alert() function. As expected, extreme caution is needed here.


Quick community take on Blackboard Data: What we know so far

The highly anticipated Blackboard Data still offers more questions than it answers. But that hasn’t stopped the community from voicing their opinions on what it might be, and what it can do for students. Many participants got a closer look thanks to the “21 Days of Blackboard Data” course, available only to customers.

Despite the system being already announced, it was only afterwards that the team began to ask for baseline user feedback. In this case, users were asked to submit their “stories.”

Please reply to this thread with your user stories, in the format “As a [Role], I need to know [Question], so that I can [Action], in order to [Goal]”.

Check out some preliminary screenshots below. Source


Flash bonus: Get Login Page jealous!

Here are some of the community’s Login pages. They were the response of an invitation post BbWorld. Show us your Login page!

Want to see more Moodle-based inspiration?

Our How To content is supported by: eCreators. Moodle for the enterprise, K12 and corporate. Australia and Singapore.To learn more about eCreators, click here.
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