Posted by & filed under mosomelt.

About two months ago I started a course on

Before I start on my experiences, I want to make it clear that I absolutely 100% support free education such as courses on and I love the fact that we’re making this information and education accessible to anyone who can get on the Internet – which, to be fair, is pretty much anyone these days. Yes yes, there are still people in third world countries who can’t. But didn’t we recently have an ad on TV saying that the Internet in some rural, out-of-the-way small country was better than what we have here in NZ? And we have it free in our public libraries here. You don’t even need to bring your own computer.

I digress.

Free education is coming to the world, and it looks great. looks really great. There are many universities around the world who are contributing actual, tertiary-level course material. They are building these courses, which include video lectures (which can be downloaded to your computer or device and viewed at your leisure), quizzes, peer assessments, assignments, exams… all the things you would expect from a tertiary level course. And they’re delivered entirely online, and entirely free.

What’s not to like?

So I did a course called Gamification. I have to say that at the start I was very motivated. The content was interesting, I handed in my assignments and got full marks, I got full marks on the quizzes. Yet I never completed the course. I never did the final assignment or the final exam.

Why? What happened?

What happened is the same thing that happens to a lot of students. They come into the semester all motivated, enthused, keen to try something new and exciting. Then about midway through, no matter how exciting or interesting the material, motivation lacks.

In fact, this gamification course talked a lot about motivation.

At the start there was a lot of intrinsic motivation to do the course. I was keen, I wanted to learn new things for myself. I was a motivated student.

When I got full marks on the first quiz I was motivated to continue. A little bit of extrinsic motivation there. Same with the grades on the first assignment, though they took a while to get to me. The feedback on that wasn’t quite immediate enough for the motivation to hit me.

By the time I got to the last week, I had no more intrinsic motivation left, and there was no extrinsic motivation for me to continue with the course.

  • I hadn’t paid for it, so I wasn’t losing any money.
  • No one else was requiring me to do this course for any reason, so I wasn’t letting anyone down.
  • I wasn’t going to get a qualification.

The only extrinsic motivation I could find was, “Oh, it would be neat to put this on my CV and maybe get the certificate.” It wasn’t enough.

So I suffered the same fate that a lot of other students do – I stopped trying. I stopped working. I was interested in the material, but without any further motivation to read / watch it, I found more interesting things to do with my time. I had no investment in completing the course, so I just didn’t.

What could have been done to keep me interested? I’m not sure, but I know what frustrated me:

  • Having to wait so long for feedback on my assignments.
  • Having to watch 10 – 15 videos in one week (the format never changed, I would have liked some variety – podcasts, videos, text, interactive journeys)

And this course was only 6 weeks long.

I signed up to another course called Design. We’re one and a bit weeks in and I haven’t even watched the first lot of videos or submitted the first assignment. I’ve lost this one before I’ve even started. The lack of motivation that I felt in finishing the first course leaked over into this course, causing me to not even start it. And I LOVE the idea of design.

So I will be taking a rest from the free online courses until I can figure out why I lost the motivation so utterly and completely that I didn’t even bother starting the second one, and what I can do to make sure that motivation stays. Perhaps if I figure that out, I can figure out some sort of secret formula that can be applied to the classroom as well!


Posted by & filed under mosomelt.

I did a presentation today at ULearn all about looking at what you can do with an LMS such as Moodle other than just upload files to it.

See this course on for further details. Work your way through the course as a student to see what sort of interactive activities are available.

Also, you can view my presentation below, in the form of a PDF. It won’t make a lot of sense unless you were there, really.

Links to the places on the last slide:

Posted by & filed under moodle, mosomelt, Themes.

At the iMoot this year I did two sessions on how to customise Moodle themes if you don’t have a lot of experience already with PHP and CSS.

This PDF is my presentation, but of course there’s a huge section where I did some demonstration.

Basically what it boils down to is:

  1. Get yourself a theme that has a custom settings page with a custom CSS box. There are quite a few standard Moodle themes that already have this, so you don’t even need to download and install one.
  2. Get yourself Firebug for whichever browser you prefer to use. For theme design, I prefer using Firebug in Firefox, but the browser extension is available for several different browsers.
  3. Watch this quick YouTube video on how to use the Firebug extension specifically with Moodle and a custom CSS box.

Away you go!

Just remember a couple of things:

  • Never, ever make back-end code changes directly to a core Moodle theme. Reasons why are in the PDF presentation.
  • Your changes in Firebug are temporary and will be lost if you refresh the page. To keep any changes, they must be put into the custom CSS box of your theme.
  • If you do want to make back-end code changes to a theme, DUPLICATE it first.

If you want to learn more about Moodle theme design, try our MoodleBites for Theme Designers course!

    Posted by & filed under moodle, moodlebites, mosomelt, unitec.

    It seems that whenever I get a blog, I (eventually) fill it up with posts that start with, “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while…”


    So what have I been doing?

    I presented at Wintec at their eLearning conference. I did two presentations, the first one was about the changes in Moodle 1.9 to 2.x, and was basically a condensed version of the MoodleBites 1.9 to 2.x course we run. The second was a brief slot during a wider presentation on PD opportunities, and I talked about what MoodleBites had to offer for lecturers and other staff at Wintec.

    I have been working on the MoodleBites for Theme Designers course.

    I currently have three courses on MoodleBites that I am facilitating, so that is keeping me busy, too. MaharaBites, MoodleBites for Theme Designers, and the Moodle 1.9 to 2.x Upgrade course.

    My work at Unitec has also been keeping me busy with our pilot of Moodle 2.2 site launching just before Christmas, then right up to this week (the first week of Semester 1, 2012). The campus is teaming with students again and has really come to life after a quiet Christmas period where there was no one here but us chickens.


    I have done some training here and there onsite, which is always great fun. I love going to different schools or tertiary institutes and working with their lecturers. It gives me a great buzz to show people new things about Moodle, especially if they’re keen to learn.