Sunday, January 29, 2012

The MyNotes block - a simple yet effective ToDo list from year 2007 for Moodle 1.9

If you ever needed a ToDo list in a block on your Moodle 1.9.x site, look no further than Hugo Santos' MyNotes block. You can use it as a reminder system, a ToDo list, or to manage personal notes for own convenience.

Sounds a bit like the MediaBird Study Notes module. However, this Portugese-made block is less complex, but simpler to install and to use.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Giving students a feel good factor with a Stamp Collection pseudo-block (Moodle 1.9.x)

The Stamp Collection module by David Mudrak is one of my all-time favourite modules on my Moodle 1.9.15 site. It's a great tool to provide feedback to students and to reward them whenever work has been done. I like to think of it as a motivational tool.

I had always wished that there could be a block that shows the student how many stamps he or she has earned. Why? This is because at the moment, the student has to click on the Stamp Collection module to view the stamps earned. So this evening, I sat down to craft such a block. And I failed miserably because of my lack of experience in PHP coding!

Undeterred, I had a brainwave of how I could achieve the same effect as a real block. Within 4 hours, I crafted something that made use of David's existing code, HTML, PHP and some tricks. Here's what it looks like:

So the advantage of this 'block' is that the student can see his Stamp collection. Is it growing? Is it stagnant?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Giving students a feel good factor with the Online Users block (Moodle 1.9.x and Moodle 2.2)

Fourteen days ago, I set out to modify Andy J. Davis' Online Users block. My objective was to make my Moodle site more engaging. I think that with the generous help of PHP developer, Matteo Scaramuccia of Italy, and Stephane Gully's Shoutpro Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License code,  the objective has been achieved.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Celebrating Chinese New Year in Kuala Lumpur

The year of the Dragon starts today as the Chinese celebrate the Chinese New Year 2012. For the next 15 days the Chinese will celebrate the year 2012. As for me and my family, we're in Kuala Lumpur for the traditional famuily reunion dinner and to visit relatives and friends.

Adding a Twitter block into your Moodle 1.9/2.2 coursepage

Here's a very good tutorial by Mike Walters that shows you how to add a Twitter block to your Moodle site.

Frankie Kam

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How to increase forum participation exponentially with the New Forum Replies block by Niall Barr

Deep from the recesses of, is a year 2008 block that lists replies to your forum posts. It is called the "New replies to my posts" and is written by Niall Barr. What does it do? It is an alternative block to the Recent Activity block (see theAppendix section below). The strength of this block is that only displays new posts in threads that the current user has posted messages in, resulting in focused feedback to the user.

I couldn't resist installing this block. It was very easy to install on my Moodle 1.9.15 production site. I then logged in with a student account or two and used those accounts to make replies to my own forum posts. Here's what the "New replies to my posts" block displayed:

Now what you see may lack the pizzazz and graphics that you were expecting, but it really is exciting.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Human mod - the best Moodle mod of all

How many of us teachers and educators can teach effectively without the use of an LMS like Moodle, an LCD projector and a PowerPoint slide? Not many of us I would think. For one, a teacher needs to know his or her stuff. He (or she) should be able to hold an audience's attention with minimal technical help.

A great speaker

Simon Sinek in action in 2009 at TEDxPuget Sound.
Someone forgot to bring the laptop and the PowerPoint presentation.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How to increase the width of the Book module's reading area (Moodle 1.9.15)

Peter Skoda ( and Mojmir Volf are the authors of the Book resource. The Book resource is one of the major reasons why I love Moodle. It's a brilliant resource because it allows me to group related articles and webpages in a nice package. Something like the HTML frameset objects which were very common during the early days of HTML and the Internet. In short, I can't live without it. And neither can most of you Moodlers reading this I would reckon.

The challenge: 
Recently I was using the Book resource to encapsulate articles on I was doing this work as part of my teaching of MIS at Stamford College Malacca, specifically a case study on Sew What? Incorporated. So anyway, I discovered that I wanted to increase the width of the reading area of the Book resource. Why would I want to do that? I was embedding a Dell webpage into a book chapter and I found that

  1. I couldn't view the embedded webpage's entire width within the book
  2. the embedded content did not fit inside the right area of the book resource. The embedded website needed horizontal scroll bars (hmmm....) at the bottom of the display area in order for me to view the Dell site in its entirety.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Online Users block (Part III) Feeling moody? Show off your mood.

WHAT IF you could display your mood or status on the Online Users block by Andy J. Davis? Imagine with me if you will.

You're on your Moodle coursepage. Just before you go to make phone call, you display a BRB (Be Right Back) status next to your username on the block. Or before you attempt a quiz for the next one hour, you display a Busy status for the world to see.

Well, I've done it on my Moodle site, and so can you.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Online Users block (Part II) - Invisible and Visible Users

In my previous post on the same subject here, I  showed how a user's avatar and username could be made to disappear from the Andy J. Davis' Online Users block. The problem with that feature is that everyone in the online class could opt to be come invisible. If so, then it would be difficult for the administrator or teacher of the course to know exactly how users many had gone invisible on the coursepage.

I have since updated the block to allow the Administrator to see how many visible and invisible users are currently accessing the Moodle site. A teacher who is not an Site administrator, but is  teacher of the course and also a course administrator can also be given the same privileges. Take for example, the image below:

A Student user who has gone invisible
Here we find that Mr Smiley Face is a student who has opted to make himself invisible. He is able to see other students' avatars as long as they did not themselves choose to be invisible. 

Image 1: One invisible lurker
and one visible user. 

Mr Smiley Face student does not, however, know how many lurkers exist on the Moodle coursepage site. For all he knows, he might be the only lurker around. Or, he could be one of ten others lurking around the site.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Another addition to planet Earth for one proud Moodler in Montreal

Congratulations to you, Nicholas Walker, and to your wife, Helen, on the birth of your baby son, Julian, on Saturday 11:49pm, 14th January 2012 in Montreal, Canada! What a GREAT moment this is.

Way to go, Nick! And Nick, thanks for all the help you've been to me, thus far. May the joy you experience during this time of rejoicing, bring about more innovative ideas and creative information systems for the good of your family, students and colleagues.

Frankie Kam

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Online Users block (Part I) - How to be invisible on the Online Users block. A Moodle 1.9.x and 2.x solution

Learning Outcome: at the end of this post, you will know how to allow your Moodle 1.9.x and 2.x users to hide themselves on the Online Users block. This is Part I out of two parts. You can read Part II here.

Now I don't know about you, but I like, no, LOVE, the Online Users block by Andy J. Davis. It lends an air of Web 2.0 for Moodle. The feeling of a learning community that the block helps to foster is priceless. This block is useful for students and teachers to know who is online.

Figure 1: Online Users block.
A Moodle core block.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

An adaptation of Gareth Barnard's excellent Collapsible Weeks course format for Moodle 1.9.x.

Today I decided to adapt the Collapsed Weeks course format, originally developed, and copyrighted by the talented Gareth Barnard. The result of the adaptation is that the course format can now be organised by week, and you can display the topic title for any week.

Here's a screenshot:

Screen 1: Adapted Coursepage format from Garath Barnard's Collapsible Weekly format.
Student / Normal mode view.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What video inspires you?

Hi. Watched any inspiring videos lately? 

I trying to build a list of inspiring videos to share with my students. To watch them on my Moodle site, I really enjoy using Matt Bury's Media Player plugin to create a video playlist for my students to watch videos (of my choice). It's really versatile.

You can play the videos from my Moodle website here by using Guest access. 
The playlist is created from an XML file that I edit using Windows Notepad. Here's an example of a XML playlist file. And here's another one

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

OkMindMap update, January 2012 - image node resize is now enabled!

OKmindmap has been updated with features as of December 22nd, 2011. To apply the updated OKMindmap, please clear your browser's cache.

★ New features for this update include:

  • Image node sizes can be resized (three cheers!)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

How to deshake "shaky" videos on your Moodle site with VirtualDub

So you like taking videos with your point-and-shoot camera or with your camcorder to use on your Moodle courses. What do you do about shaky videos that give you that dizzy feeling? Too much panning around, too fast. Jerky motion videos.

Look no further. You need three things. And they are all free.
1. Use Virtualdub 1.9.11 
2. with the deshaker 3.0 filter
    (extract the Deshaker.vdf plugin file and copy it to the plugins folder of Virtualdub)
3. and the K-Lite Codec. After installing the codec pack, your PC should be able to play 99% of all videos on the Net.

To save you the trouble, you can download my zipped version VirtualDub 1.9.11, complete with the deshaker filter inside the plugins folder, here.

How to use Virtualdub and Deshaker filter to smoothen out the jerkiness of your videos

Drag and Drop Upload for Moodle 1.9.x and 2.x by Davo Smith - whatta time-saver!

Here's a MAJOR productivity and user acceptability tip: get Davo Smith's Drag and Drop Upload plugin today, if you haven't already done so!

All the while I thought that the Drag and Drop Upload by Davo Smith was only for Moodle 2.x. After all, the link on the's old plugins page states that it is for Moodle 2.x.

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