Tag Archive for opensource

Glad we skipped Ning

Ning’s Bubble Bursts: No More Free Networks, Cuts 40% Of Staff
(via TechCrunch)

Moodle: Make Assignment Description Optional

It’s admirable that the Moodle development team wants to require a description for each assignment. The description field provides instructions to the student. It makes it easier to browse all the assignments for a course. However, I work with a lot of teachers who want to post as quickly as possible and who are not accustomed to a completely electronic, web-based course format. The solution? Make the description field optional, so that they are not required to enter something into this field for Moodle to accept the submission.

Open mod/assignment/mod_form.php
Comment out line 41, as follows:
// $mform->addRule('description', get_string('required'), 'required', null, 'client');

I assume you can modify other assignments in a similar manner.

We run Moodle 1.9.1

On a related note, I have heard of a school that has written their own Moodle modules. I am currently wondering how to blend teachers’ requests for a school-wide major assignments calendar with Moodle’s default categories of personal, course, and global events. Creating a new assignment or calendar type called “major assignment,” or adding such a flag to the relevant assignment types, may be the way to do it.

Moodle, Drupal, and Gallery Updated

Open-source web applications continue to mature. This week, I successfully updated Moodle to version 1.9.1, Drupal to 5.7, and Gallery to 2.2.5. The process went very smoothly, except for one hiccup. The Moodle updater stopped partway through, somehow causing an runaway loop that caused the sessions2 table to balloon by gigabytes. Notwithstanding the fact that this brought the web server to a halt, the installer ran fine once I emptied the sessions2 table and ran it a second time. We discovered that we stored the database on the system volume, so now we will move it to the data volume.

I appreciate that all three applications ask that you install a completely fresh codebase. Old code and modifications go away, giving the application a clean start. In the case of Moodle, we had only tried two modules, iPodcast and Speex. Both were not successful and are now gone (except for some traces in the database). Drupal is modular by design, but it took less time than I had anticipated to install the 20 additional modules we currently use. Settings were already present in the database, so Drupal only needed the new code.

Gallery-Drupal integration required some additional work. It didn’t work at all at first, when I had not yet updated Gallery to the latest version. Unlike with Moodle in the past, Drupal developers are keeping Drupal-Gallery integration 100% up-to-date. Just use the latest Gallery with the Drupal integration module. Following suggestions, I also moved Gallery to within the Drupal directory — that only required one setting change.

I am also taking some time to clean up both installations, responding to user requests and making them easier to use. I modified all occurrences of Moodle’s use of “enrol” in the English language pack, since I still have no figured out how to force U.S. English language use on existing courses. I trust that new courses will inherit the U.S. setting. For the most part, people don’t notice the language difference, the notable exception being the use of “enrol!” I also simplified the default blocks layout for new courses to make the page less busy.


Finally, I succeeded in the installation of NanoGong. I have wanted in-browser audio recording for some time, especially for language classes. It looks like the good people at the Gong Project have really come through with a solution nicely customized for Moodle but able to run anywhere.

In Drupal, I configured Video to play movies within the node, eliminating the need for an additional click.