Another year, another SMUG meeting! The Scottish Moodle Users’ Group met on the 2nd of February in the Horizon Suite of Edinburgh Napier University’s Sighthill Campus.

(Just as an aside, it was a pretty impressive view of the city skyline from the top of the library – tough act to follow for the next host).


First up was Ian Wild (of Moodle 1.9 Math fame), who was demonstrating his Wavefront plugin to embed 3D models. Unfortunately, we don’t have any slides to share as it was a live demonstration of his workflow, from creating a 3D model to embedding it within Moodle. It’s interesting to hear how he developed a solution to a problem he faced (he’s developed other plugins too) and how it worked in practice.

Using 3D models in your teaching
Ian Wild, Freelancer

Ian demonstrated the use of 3D modelling in teaching. He showed us how to create 3D models using free tools (SCANN3D on the smartphone and 3D Builder in Windows 10). He also describe how the Moodle Wavefront plugin can be used to exhibit models and allow students to discuss them online.


Next up was Stephen Bruce, our gracious host for the day, who was giving us a preview of his MoodleMoot presentation:


Moodle Mobile App: Five micro-tasks to support active learning in lectures
Stephen Bruce, Learning Technology Support Manager, Edinburgh Napier University

Polling and texting technologies are popular and effective enablers of classroom interaction as they allow students to participate in tasks publicly but importantly, with anonymity. The mobile app together with Moodle 3.3 core activity tools can similarly support active learning, and with potential benefits over the established classroom technologies.

This presentation aims to give some ideas for designing micro-tasks based around five Moodle activity tools and incorporating these in a classroom setting using the Moodle mobile app.


Next was Alex Walker from the University of Glasgow who demonstrated an impressive accessibility solution built into their Moodle theme. Unfortunately, we don’t have a copy of his slides, but will upload a copy as soon as we receive them. We’re delighted to hear that Alex has been accepted to present at the MoodleMoot – if you didn’t catch the SMUG presentation, it’s well worth a look if you’re attending.

Adding Accessibility Tools with Moodle’s User Preferences
Alex Walker, Developer, University of Glasgow

Moodle has always had basic accessibility tools, with the optional Accessibility block and the ability to add third-party tools like ATBar and BrowseAloud. However, these tools do have shortcomings. We decided to try and build something better, taking advantage of new technologies like HTML5 Text-To-Speech, and building on great Moodle frameworks such as User Preferences and the Mustache templates in themes.

We’d like to show you what we’ve built and how it works, take any feedback you may have, and discuss how we can share these developments with the Moodle community.


Finally, Conor Bradley from Borders College was up to tell us that we were all wasting our time with VLEs and that solutions like Office 365 were the future. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration … he actually gave a balanced view for both and some interesting conclusions.

Is it time to abandon Moodle and move to Office 365?
Conor Bradley, Interim ISLT Manager, Borders College

Moodle has always faced competition, historically from VLE providers such as Blackboard and more recently Canvas. Over the last couple years however, Microsoft has launched and refined its own education offerings in the form of Microsoft Classroom (Now Microsoft Teams Classroom) and its Office 365 products. Can Moodle compete against a player of this size? What is it doing to respond to a changing landscape?

With examples from our own experience at Borders College we’ll look at what educators and elearning specialists should consider when thinking about how to get the best out of Moodle and Office 365.

And that was it really – aside from a short break we took to play an online (non-Moodle) quiz, with a cash prize that would have funded the catering for our next meeting. Sadly, I let the side down by not submitting an answer within the required time limit.

I may have to bring cake to the next meeting as penance.

We’ll have our last meeting of the academic year in June, so until we meet again, please feel free to continue the conversation on the SMUG mailing list!