In this video with Thomas Andre Molvig from Skooler and Connor Giles from Overt Software, we dicuss how to make the most out of your Moodle with Skooler's mConnect Application. An application the integrates the power of Moodle with the collaborative aspects of Microsoft Teams.
- Thomas Andre Molvig (TM) – Advisor on Collaboration at Skooler
- Connor Giles (CG) - VLE Operations Manager at Overt Software
(00:14) TM: Yes Connor, word is yours. We are still on time. So, feel free to share with us how you think we can use Moodle and mConnect in the best possible way.
(00:30) CG: Thank you Thomas, as I said previously, I'm the VLE operations manager at Overt Software Solutions and there was just a couple of emails back there, if there are any questions that couldn't be answered in the Q&A at the end. Then you've got our emails there, that you can contact us on if necessary. So, the purpose of the presentation, my five top tips on how to use Moodle with mConnect efficiently.
Tip 1: Use mConnect supported versions of Moodle
(00:59) CG: Next slide please Thomas. So, this first tip, I would say is use an mConnect supported version of Moodle. So, as you can see in the image just below the title there; those are the latest supported versions of Moodle and their end-of-life dates. You might notice that if you are on Moodle 3.8 or 3.5 that those aren't included on there, that is because Moodle 3.8 and 3.5 are both end of life as of next month (May 2021). So, for the purpose of this presentation I haven't included them in there. So it would be 3.9 and onwards is the latest versions of Moodle and 3.9 is the long-term security, which means that basically you will be supported for a lot longer than the next couple of versions that are released. So, keeping an updated version on Moodle is just important to maintain the security and keep you Moodle safe for all your users. And then, as some added security, we also perform a Nessus scan on all our servers, which is essentially and in-depth minimally invasive scan that just covers some extra little security exploits that are away from Moodle. So, that's just a nice little addition extra.
(02:24) So, to go into the latest Moodle versions to start; Moodle 3.9 that's the latest long-term security release, what that means is that I think it will be supported until May 2023. Whereas Moodle 3.10 will only be supported until May 2022. So, that just means that security wise, patches and bug fixes, security exploit fixes, all of those will be supported until that date. So, if you are looking to stay on a version of Moodle of a long time rather than switching every year, then a long-term security release if definitely the one for you.
(03:02) And Moodle 3.10, obviously it does not support for as long as Moodle 3.9, but it does have more features. So, the good thing about Moodle 3.10 is that it's got all the features that Moodle 3.9 has to offer and then it's got some additional extras as well (which you can see in the pictures below there). All those additional features can be found on Moodle's release notes for those versions.
Tip 2: Use an up-to-date theme and course format
(03:27) CG: Thank you, and onto the next slide, please. Okay, so the second tip is to use an up-to-date theme and course format. So, as you can see down below the title there, I have included a picture of our development Moodle within Microsoft Teams so that as Thomas demonstrated earlier that's what our demonstration Moodle looks like with the collaboration of Moove theme and Edwiser course format as you can see to the righthand side there. So, with those combined that is what the end result is. So, just to go into them in a bit more detail.
(04:15) So, the Moove theme; it's got a nice responsive design, with some nice transitions on the dropdowns. So that makes the site visually appealing, with the addition of those four marketing tiles that you can see in the second picture below and those are able to be customised so you can tailor them to make it more suited for your Moodle. It also has accessibility features, so if you look at the larger image down the bottom left, you'll see that little orange icon down the bottom left. That's an additional feature that allows people to change options to cater for colour blindness, font sizes, and a lot more, just to make the site more friendly to people that may need it. And then the theme is fully mobile responsive so no matter the size of your screen, whether it's a laptop or a mobile phone, if it's a tablet, the site will always look well-presented, and it will always respond in a nice way as some themes may not do.
(05:25) And with the Edwiser course format; so, people familiar with the grid format as previously known, it's a lot like that but it also adds an overview to each of the courses and the course as a whole, so if you can look on the image down the bottom left, you'll see just near the top that is the course overview. So, what that'll do is it'll show the student or any users that are using the course the entire activity and resources that are included within the course. It also has nice resume button, so where the course was left off last time, if you were to click resume it would take you to where you left off. And then each of the course topics down the bottom, as you can see on the image, also have their own overview, which then allows, if you are looking of a specific assignment, a specific quiz, you can jump right there without having to sift through all the content. And a nice additional feature is that all of those course topic tiles, and the course overview also have a progress bar on each of them so you can see which course topics you have completed without having to access them again.
Tip 3: Set Moodle to be seen in Teams
(06:42) CG: Thank you Thomas. So, this has largely been covered by Thomas' presentation, but, as an overview, integrating Moodle with Teams is essentially a no brainer, you can have the vast resources that Moodle has to offer while utilising the collaborative aspects of Microsoft Teams at the same time. So, it essentially becomes a super VLE at that point; you've got all of those combined together and the users will have a much more friendly experience with their online learning. So, something to note, on the Lefthand side, I've just got some key terminology that I may be speaking about on the righthand side, just something to give a bit of an extra explanation as to what I'm talking about.
(07:35) So, content security policies that was known as the CSP. They tell your web browsers or web server that Microsoft can be trusted, so it gives the greenlight to them and then this then allows Moodle to be shown in Teams without any issues. So that's what would be covered in the instillation, the set-up of the Skooler App. And something else to note; the CSPs can also be used to cater for other authentication methods such as Shibboleth and many more. That's just one of the ones that we have had success within the past. (For more information visit Skooler blog post, Integrating SSO with mConnect). As Thomas presented as he was connecting via the mConnect button on the Lefthand side.
Tip 4: Microsoft365 suite plugins
(08:23) CG: Thank you Thomas. So, the Microsoft365 suite plugins. Many of you will already know but Microsoft365 already heavily relies on Azure Active Directory. So, this is essentially where you users are stored for their logins or enrolments. So, that's sort of a requirement for the integration of having and Azure Active Directory for the Microsoft Suite plugins. The plugin set for Moodle allows the link of this Azure Active Directory to grant seamless access to the Office365 features, such as your Outlook, your Microsoft Teams, OneDrive and many more of the Office365 features. And just an overview of what this plugin set includes; the first one would be a block, so what that does is it shows your Azure Pro file, it also has the links to all of those other features that you can seamlessly sign into from Moodle. So, as you can see those little buttons in the bottom right, those are the sort of buttons you would be looking for, for you Outlook, for your Teams, just clicking those in the block will take you straight there through from Moodle.
(09:50) There's an authentication method which is the sign in that Thomas demoed a bit earlier when he was logging into Moodle. There is also a repository, that you can use if you've got files within OneDrive for example, then you can use those as an assignment upload, just as an example there. There is also a filter which converts links to say videos, if you were to put a link to a video it automatically converts it to a HTML browser window for a video, so you would see the video rather than the link, just there. And there is also a local plugin which ties them altogether; it's got all the configurations, all of the settings, that will allow all of them to work together as a unit. And that's it for this slide thank you Thomas.
Tip 5: Microsoft365 isn’t needed to login to Moodle
(09:50) CG: And then lastly and very important to note is that Microsoft365 authentication isn't required to use mConnect. So, as I spoke about earlier, it's going to be very good news for many because changing authentication methods can be very stressful between academic years. So, just with the use of a content security policy, as I recently mentioned, you are able to integrate methods such as Shibboleth and many other ones just via some simple lines of code, just to allow Moodle to be shown in Teams and then also allow that authentication method to be give the greenlight through Microsoft Teams as well. And as I say we've had success with many other methods on that point as well. And that should be it for this slide thank you Thomas.
(11:49) TM: Perfect, perfect. Yeah, just want to take us into the final wrap up of today's webinar. So, first I want to bring the word back to you Connor. You have been able to give the attendee's today a freebee, we thank you a lot for that and feel free to explain what you are able to offer today.
(12:15) CG: Yes, so for being part of this webinar we are offering early access to our Moodle Health Check Service, that we have enable on our website, as you can see the link to it there. So, on successful completion of this health check we are also offering a free security vulnerability scan, so as you can see it's called a Nessus vulnerability scan, that we use on our side, as I said a bit earlier, that we do on all of our servers as an additional security measure. So, it's another free Nessus vulnerability scan. And yeah so, the link there will take you to a page where you have to go down and you can find a way to find the information that we may need with this health heck and the button at the bottom of that page allows you to schedule in your meeting time slot with myself. And then we can go through then on a meeting to evaluate the health of your Moodle.
(13:15) TM: Is there any reason why not everyone on this webinar should do the health check?
(12:15) CG: Nope, definitely not, I mean, there is no harm to check on the health of your Moodle; if there is anything out of date, if there are any exploits, this will be highlighted within these health checks as well. And it will come through in a little infographic as well to tell you what exploits are there.
(13:15) TM: Well, personal health, Moodle health, health is good for everyone!