Moodle 2.3 in production: theming and customisations

Having finished the Windows 7 upgrade for our classroom machines and being satisfied with the setup it’s been time to put the spotlight back on Moodle and get some polish to the new 2.3 site our tutors will be using from… well today really

The core of the theme was done in the prep work I’d done before the start of summer, along with a matching Mahara theme so was more of a tweaking exercise than full redesign.

First step (sadly) was to remove the Live@Edu links from the top bar as we’ve had to drop it for now due to Office 365 migration, which is a lot more involved than simply shifting to a newer platform. The authentication and access to 365 is a lot different to the old LiveID \ SkyDrive features and rather than have a half-baked implementation I’m leaving it for now.

Our users found the file storage and web apps the most useful part of our Live@Edu integration and until I can do something similar with 365 \ Sharepoint it seems to be easier for students to use their personal accounts and the newly revamped SkyDrive, which has a funny irony about it somehow!

I’d also noticed Shaun has released a new version of his aardvark theme but having looked through the changes I’m sticking with our fork of blackbird for now as I’d made similar changes initially, along with some custom CSS to use my favourite blue gradient background and don’t want to do it all over again… maybe I need GitHub to keep track of it all? However I did nab the new social network icons though as they fit with the style Microsoft and co seem to be going with at the moment.

Moodle2 front pageThe front page of the site then got a quick spruce up, added some new graphics into the tabbed image slider, a funky new logo and put Moodle \ network news along the bottom.

Also note the Google Chrome download link in the footer, without doubt the best browser for editing Moodle courses so should help staff working from home (and students who want to be freed from the clutches of IE!)

Coming back to the drop down bar, with Live@Edu removed there was an empty space on the left hand block area, fortunately I had an ideal replacement; a Mahara SSO link so users have a quick entry point to their portfolio

The My Moodle page was an interesting case, on one hand I was pleased to see I could drop an HTML block into the middle content area to act as a welcome banner without needing to edit the Moodle core code but then found one irritating change.

Previously when setting the default My Moodle layout and blocks in 1.9 it would apply to all users and update as the admin made changes. This doesn’t happen in 2.3 (probably the same in other 2.x releases) and seems to make a custom setting for each user with whatever the default layout was at the time. I noticed this when changing the logo and finding it wasn’t updating for certain users, who are now stuck with either a broken image or the wrong welcome message. There’s a kludge to reset the My Moodle page via MySQL but I don’t like messing with database tables unless I have to, fingers crossed the Moodle devs will get this sorted sooner rather than later.

A couple more screenshots of the finalised My Moodle portal and our matching Mahara theme are below for those who want a closer look. Yes the tile logo is Windows 8 inspired 😉

My Moodle portal  

This post has grown a bit larger than I first thought so will split into a new one for the first thoughts from a course design and creation perspective, which should be up soon…

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