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Useful User Tours

Posted by jason.hardin Aug 14, 2017

User tours is an awesome new feature that was originally a community plugin for Moodle 3.1 that we added to Moodlerooms and then in Moodle 3.2 has become a core part of Moodle. user tours are a way for administrators and institutions to create walkthroughs for instructors and learners about how to use Moodle and Moodlerooms. Moodle HQ created a great video on User tours, which covers what a user tour looks like to a learner as well as how an administrator creates a user tour. If you are interested in understanding how user tours work and how to create them then I recommend watching the video.


For this blog post, I wanted to focus on user tours that already exist in the community that I think are useful for institutions to enable on their site for new instructors and learners. All of these user tours are available within the user tours repository on When searching for user tours I recommend that you ignore the Moodle version number because user tours work by finding CSS locators in the HTML. Most of the user tours will work for the version of Moodle that Moodlerooms is running for you because the CSS locators in of most of Moodle's pages don't change from release to release. I do recommend that you test any user tour on your sandbox site before you install it onto your production site.


Beyond this list, there aren't a lot of user tours in the community. Two tours come with Moodle 3.2 for Boost Administration and Course view in Boost. If you have some time try to create a user tour. We will also be working to add user tours for clients in up coming releases.

Blackboard World is coming next week. For those in the Moodlerooms community who are attending, we want to make sure you know whom to look for to talk about Moodlerooms. We have the most Moodlerooms focused staff attending this year than any other time before. We also have our largest contingent of Moodle institutions attending this year as well.


From our client engagement teams we have the following individuals attending:

From our product management team we have the following individuals attending:

We have many sales folks attending and specifically I wanted to call out some of our great sale engineers whom you have probably known for years:

I am really excited to see everyone in New Orleans this year. The hashtag for this year is #BBWorld2017.


Have you ever been to a conference where you walk up to the registration desk to get your id badge and you feel like you have stepped into Cheers? Not because the registration desk is a bar, but because you are greeted in a manner that makes you feel like everyone knows your name. If you have then you might have attended a Mountain Moot.


This Moot can be summed up in one word "Fun". Each year it is put on by Dan Case and Ryan Hazen on the Carroll College campus in Helena Montana. This year was no different. The moot unofficially started Thursday night with a welcome social sponsored by Blackboard. This is a great time to catch up with returning Moodlers and get to know some new Moodlers without the need to figure out the next session you are planning to attend. This casual gathering sets the mood for the rest of the Moot, which is relaxed and friendly. There are pre-moot sessions and I have heard they are very informative, I personally haven't attended them.


Friday kicks off the Moot proper with a 5k run walk and then a welcome presentation and keynote. One of these times I will attend the run walk, but this year it was 94-99 degrees outside and I am not prepared to do that kind of running or walking and then sit inside listening to presentations the rest of the day. This year's keynote presented by Andrew Kenny and was about K12 broadband and what the group the education superhighway is doing to help get broadband to all US K12 students. It was an interesting presentation explaining the needs for broadband for K12 districts and classrooms to provide different levels of educational content. We were then treated to a status of the project and how they have positively impacted k12 student's access to broadband.


There are usually four to five sessions running at a time, which is a solid number to provide attendees with options without making them feel like they have to choose between conflicting options. Jessica Bryant from Montana Office of Public Instruction gave a presentation on the work that OPI is doing to provide free professional development to K12 teachers in Montana and how they are training the teachers who develop the professional development courses. I am hopeful that she will create a blog post about what she presented at the Moot here and talk about the course they have written and their process for learning how to create quality Moodle courses.


H5P was a very popular topic at the moot this year. There was a pre-moot session on it and Jason Neiffer and Mike Agostinelli from Montana Digital Academy presented on how they are using H5P with their educational curriculum. I am also hopeful that they will create a blog post at some point on H5P because they are using it extensively. It is also being used with many different educational techniques.  If you get a chance to reach out to them I highly recommend it. They have a very solid strategy for using H5P and keeping it up to date. H5P as a tool is also rapidly evolving, which accessibility becoming a focus for improvements going forward.


Sadly Marlene Zentz got sick and was unable to attend, hopefully, she is feeling better. This also meant that Aaron Page was unable to attend and Andy Braden stepped up to present to those who were interested in Blackboard Ally and the recently released integration with Moodlerooms and soon with Moodle. If you haven't seen Ally in action or talked to Andy or your sales rep about it I highly recommend it. Many of the moot attendees were really excited by the prospect of what Ally could help them do.


Luckily we were able to connect to Aaron Page virtually to the moot attendees to present about the Accessibility MOOC he and Marlene Zentz are going to be running in October.  They recently ran a pilot with 93 people and received a lot of positive feedback about it. They are working on improvements before we open it up for anyone to enroll. I am also hopeful that they will find some time to make a blog post to talk about the MOOC and why everyone should attend not just Moodlerooms clients.


This was yet another great Mountain Moot. Ryan and Dan continue to host an event that has a strong community feel while providing a lot of benefit to attendees with a very inexpensive price tag. Minds were definitely blown this week. If you get a chance I highly recommend attending. I also recommend taking a few extra days before or after to explore Montana. It is gorgeous country, hot this year, but hopefully that was a fluke.

Hi Folks,

In case you didn’t see, Moodle HQ has announced that we will be hosting the first MoodleMoot at BbWorld this July 25-27 in New Orleans!


With BbWorld and a MoodleMoot held in tandem, we can bring two of the largest edtech communities together. The best part is that attendees need only purchase one registration to access both conferences. After all, BbWorld isn’t just about Blackboard software, it’s easily one of the largest gatherings of like-minded education professionals focused on addressing challenges in teaching and learning across the world.


For instance, you can see Martin Dougiamas’ keynote and enjoy the Moot’s tight-knit, Moodle-focused session before branching out to enjoy a wider variety of BbWorld sessions and activities, such as a keynote by educator and former Second Lady, Dr. Jill Biden.


Of course, with any Moot, there will be a full agenda of peer-led presentations, but that can’t happen without your input! The Moot call for proposals is open now until May 8th. Our friends at Moodle HQ will be selecting the sessions, but if you’re looking for more information on how to submit, please visit our Moot page on You can also reach out to or with any questions. Anyone that submits a presentation that is selected for the Moot gets an additional $200 off the discounted speaker rate.


Thanks and we hope to see you there!


Phill Miller
VP, Teaching and Learning

One of the things that we have prided ourselves about Snap in Moodlerooms is the ability to customize the look and feel based on the use of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). CSS is not something that is easy for just anyone to pick however and we receive questions from clients about wanting to make small changes to Snap without purchasing one of our branding services. While I will be the first to recommend a branding service to a client because it really helps to create a cohesive look for your entire site I also want to give clients ideas to make the own changes.


One simple change that can have a huge impact on the look of Snap for a site, but does require CSS is just changing the background color for the logo and menu bar.  Below is a screenshot of what I am referring to as the logo and menu bar.


This blog post makes some assumptions about the reader. First off I am assuming you have some knowledge of what CSS is. If you do not then I recommend reviewing the W3C’s CSS introduction and tutorial pages. These pages will give you a good introduction to what CSS is and some of the code that will be used in this blog. There isn't going to be a lot of code, as I promised this should be a pretty simple change we are working with background colors, font colors and then the brightness of one icon. Let's dive into the CSS.


To start we need to navigate to Snap's customization area. In order to do this, you must have administrative privileges on your Moodlerooms site. I also recommend that you only attempt these changes on your sandbox Moodlerooms site and not on your production site until you are sure they are working the way you want them to be. To access the Snap administration area Click on the administration cog in the upper right of the main site page then select Appearance > Themes > Snap > Snap.


Scroll to the very bottom of the page and you should see a text field labeled Custom CSS. This is where all of the CSS from the blog post should go. We want to change the background color of the entire bar to something other than white. For this tutorial, I am going to change the color to the default cyan (hex color value #3BCEDB) that we create most Moodlerooms sites with. Below is the CSS code to change the background color:


#mr-nav {

  background-color: #3bcedb;



Copy this text above and paste it into the Custom CSS field. The result should be similar to what is shown in the screenshot below:



The CSS code #mr-nav refers to the HTML div tag that has the id mr-nav. The background color is as you would expect to change the background color. Do you notice a problem in the screenshot above? Yup you guessed it where did the text My Courses go? Well since it is the same color as the background color we just changed the bar to it disappears visually. It is still the and you can highlight it with your mouse, but it looks like it vanished. To resolve this add the CSS code below to the Custom CSS text area below the existing CSS.


a#fixy-trigger {

  color: #FFF;



You should see something similar to the screenshot below.


Your My Courses's text should be visible on the page in white. In the CSS above a#fixy-trigger refers to the link with the id fixy-trigger which is what our developers decided the id should be for the link to the My Courses menu. If you open up your site in a browser where you haven't logged into the site (was that a mental twister?) you will notice another problem. Just like in the image below the login button has disappeared.


As with the previous problem, the reason it is gone is because the text color and the background color are the same. To fix this we need to add the following CSS to the Customer CSS text area below the already existing CSS code.


#mr-nav .snap-login-button {

  color: #FFF;



Now you will be able to see the Login button.Moodlerooms_University.png

The CSS here refers to the div tag that has the id mr-nav and then any other HTML tags that have the class snap-login-button.


If you want to get fancy here you might try adding a white border around the link. The way I want to get fancy however is to change the cog/gear icon from the gray it is now to white. To do this we use a CSS filter and increase the brightness of the image until it is pure white. This is similar to over exposing a photograph until all you see is white light. Add the CSS below to the Custom CSS field below all the other CSS you have.


#admin-menu-trigger img {

  filter: brightness(200%);



Now your cog/gear icon should be pure blissful white. MDS__Administration__Appearance__Themes__Snap__Snap.png

If you have any questions about this please feel free to post a discussion about it.

I am really excited to discuss Moodlerooms' new process for managing feature/enhancement requests and new ideas for Moodlerooms within our user community. With this blog post, we will be moving away from using behind the blackboard for enhancement requests to using the idea space within the Moodlerooms community on this site. This will improve several aspects of our relationship with our community when it comes to enhancing the Moodlerooms product. Below is a diagram of the new process that we will follow with community enhancement requests herein referred to as ideas.



The goals of this new process are:

  • Implement a simple, transparent process for reviewing, voting for, and building your most popular ideas for new features.
  • Improve two way communication with clients about ideas they have for improvements to the product
  • Involve the community in prioritizing new features for the Moodlerooms product

New Ideas

The process starts by a community member creating an idea about what they think should be added to Moodlerooms or Moodle.

Thinking of an Idea

The idea process starts with a community member coming up with an improvement to the Moodlerooms product. This can happen when a user runs into an area of the product that doesn't make sense to them or when they are trying to do something new that the product doesn't fully support. It doesn't matter how the idea comes but it is useful if the idea focuses  on a problem or business need rather than the exact way the solution should be built. Some questions a community member should think about before posting a new idea are:

  • What is the problem that needs to be addressed?
  • What need would the improvement meet?
  • What is the goal the user is trying to meet?
  • Where did the idea for the feature or improvement come from?
  • What other products might already be solving this problem?

For each of the questions that a community member has an answer to they should try to descibe the answer in as much detail as possible including as much as possible:

  • Screen casts (Jing is a free product that is good for this)
  • Steps taken to get to where the problem occurred
  • Anything else that might be useful

Creating an Idea

To create a new idea a community member clicks on the create and idea button on the welcome page of the Moodlerooms community. The community members picks a title, adds the answers to the questions above in the text area to describe the idea. Skipping over the rest of the form the community member clicks the publish button.

Idea Review and Discussion

When a new idea is published either I or another Moodlerooms Product Manager will review the new idea and then add tags and post follow-up questions as needed. Remember, Community members, are also free to comment, ask questions and discuss the idea. New ideas will remain open for at least 30 days. After that time, its stage will be updated based on how many views, comments, bookmarks it has received, and other external factors.


Several times per year, we will open a set of ideas for voting. These voting periods will generally align with our development planning cycles in order to receive the most timely feedback from the community. The ideas chosen for voting will be based on a number of factors, including, but not limited to: number and nature of comments, the number of views, feedback from users, business goals/priorities, and prior voting results. Voting will remain open for two weeks. While we will be interested in pursuing all ideas that receive a large number of votes, we will not be able to deliver on every idea, even those that finish very high or at the top of a voting period. However, we will strive to be transparent and share our reasoning when we choose not to add ideas that the community is passionate about to our near-term plans. Ideas not chosen for voting will either be archived or remain in the For Future Consideration stage, depending again on the same criteria outlined above.

Product Development Partnership

As a follow-up activity for the ideas we will be moving forward with, we are creating a Product Development Partnership. After each voting period, we will choose at least one of the ideas for a set of collaborative webinars. During these discussions, we intend to share designs, talk about how we will break down the functionality into deliverable milestones, and project rough timelines for building the new feature. We will begin by inviting the community members who voted for the idea but will include as many interested participants as we can support.


Because it will not be feasible to do this for every idea we intend to build, we will kick it off with one per voting period. We certainly expect to build more than one idea from each voting period, though, so an idea not being chosen for this activity does not mean that we are not interested in building it! Also at the end of each voting session, the stage of each idea will be updated appropriately, based on the number of votes, number and nature of comments, and our intentions for building or not building that idea.

Archiving Ideas

In the interest of maintaining an orderly, working backlog, we will review and archive ideas at each step of the lifecycle. Between voting periods, we will archive ideas that have been open for at least 30 days that have not garnered a minimum level of activity. We will seek to normalize activity across all open ideas so that an idea that has been open for 60 days is given similar consideration as an idea that has been open for 30. Ideas may also be archived if they are not chosen for voting or if they finish very low in a round of voting. We will never archive an idea that has moved beyond the Under Review stage without first posting a comment explaining why we are not moving the idea forward at that time.


Ideas that are archived can be resubmitted, but it may be best to give the idea some time before doing so. If an idea is resubmitted but does not meet the minimum level of activity, it will be eligible for archiving after its first 30 days. Again, our intention is to keep a consumable number of open, active ideas in the backlog. If we do not have a desire to develop a feature in the next 12-24 months, it benefits the backlog to archive it and revisit the idea in the future.


Under Review

This is the default stage for new ideas. Ideas in this stage are available for viewing, comments, and bookmarks. Ideas will remain in the Under Review stage for at least 30 days.

For Future Consideration

Ideas meeting a minimum level of activity will be moved from Under Review to the For Future Consideration stage. Many of the ideas that are chosen for voting will come from this stage. We will also use this stage for ideas that have gone through a round of voting but will not be included in the next few releases. In order to keep the backlog meaningful and manageable, we will limit the number of ideas in the For Future Consideration stage to 100.

Open for Voting

Ideas in this stage are open for your votes! You can vote one time on each idea and you can vote on as many ideas as you’d like. Ideas will remain in the Open for Voting stage for two weeks.


Ideas in this stage have usually gone through a round of voting and we intend to deliver them in a coming release.


These ideas have made it all the way through the process and are now available in Learn!


Archived ideas were open for at least 30 days and may have even gone through a round of voting, but either did not interest the community or will not be built in the next 12-24 months. We will never archive an idea that has moved beyond the Under Review stage without first posting a comment explaining why we are not moving the idea forward at that time.

Prepopulated Ideas

We have an enhancement request process that has changed a lot over the years, but has always been through our support system. Because of this we have been able to prepopulate the Moodlerooms Idea space with 25 ideas from clients. We hope that this will help everyone to get started. If any idea already exists that you remember submitting a support ticket on please comment on it. We would love to start the dialogue with you. All of these pre populated tickets will follow the process about and if they aren't voted or commented on we will consider archiving them.