Royal Holloway, University of London. Learning Technology Blog

Moodle Issues

Dear colleagues

This email is further to the email below with an update to the planned improvement work to stabilise Moodle.  We will be working overnight (between 11pm tonight, Tuesday 11 October and 6am tomorrow, Wednesday 12 October) to make some changes to the system. 

As a priority, we have been working to agree a plan to minimise the unavailability of the system and have tried limited impact as follows:

Files that are uploaded after 11pm tonight (Tuesday 11 October) may not be available until 6am on Wednesday 12 October.  In addition, users who are logged on to the system between 1am and 4am on Wednesday 12 October may be logged off, but will be able to log back in immediately afterwards. 

The system should be considered at risk overnight tonight.

If you have any questions, please contact the IT Service Desk on the contact details below:

Email: / Web: / Telephone: 01784 41 4321

Never mind the Bol****s; here's the Atto text editor

Alternative title: “Why doesn’t it let me use all the fonts, colours, and sizes any more?”

Cover of the Sex Pistol's album 'Never Mind the Bollocks
The developers at Moodle HQ have taken the lead in the design and presentation of accessible, web and mobile-friendly learning content . The new text editor is aimed squarely at creating content for a diverse community of learners with a range of needs, and who use a growing number of devices, operating systems, and browsers to create and access content. It is designed to be lightweight, platform agnostic, and to assist in the creation of accessible content.

Reading on the screen is very different from reading printed materials, and content creators have a number of issues to consider when writing for an online audience. These include the following:

1. Web users scan rather than read content.
  • Anything which interrupts that process can undermine the communication process, and should be avoided.
  • Examples of distractors include multiple fonts, ever-changing font sizes, and in-line links. 
2. Not all users perceive colour in the same way.
  • Using colour to convey meaning can discriminate against users with colour-blindness by making it harder for them to access, understand, and act upon information presented in this way.
  • Content should be produced with future as well as current users in mind, and is better to make content accessible now than to make adjustments on demand later.
  • Offering a range of background and font colours can often result in illegible combinations, or combinations which may not work after future upgrades to our Moodle site. 
3. Not all users consume content in the same way, some users:
  • may access text-only versions of a web site, and any meaning conveyed through typography will be lost.
  • employ their own ‘style sheet’ to make the necessary adjustments to online content.
  • consume online content with screen-readers, and anything which ‘bloats’ the text with underlying code (HTML colour, font and size settings, for example) can affect the performance of assistive technology. 
4. Mobile users demand speed; mobile browsers demand lean content
  • The ‘bounce-rate’ - where web users land on a site only to leave immediately - for mobile device users on Moodle last year was 35%.
  • We have taken steps to improve the mobile experience, and this includes improving the presentation and readability of content.
  • Using text hierarchy provides content with a clear and strong structure, one which downloads quickly.
  • Overly styled content is less robust and may be handled differently by different platforms, devices and browsers 

The Moodle text editor therefore does not have all the tools you may find in, for example, Microsoft Word. It no longer offers a range of fonts and colours. It instead allows editors to present content with a clear hierarchy, in the form of headings of various sizes and strength, and paragraph text. The latter can be bulleted and emboldened. Text can also be italicised and underlined - although, when used liberally, this can erode the ‘readability’ of a text.

Moodle development: upgrade and new look

Having delivered a successful rollover and archiving project for 2014/15 courses, we move now to the next stage of Moodle development. On Wednesday July 8th IT Services and the E-Learning Team will upgrade Moodle. Please note how this affects the service

1. Moodle will be unavailable from 16.00 on Wednesday 8th until no later than 17.00 on Thursday 9th July.
2. Moodle Archive will continue as normal throughout the upgrade period.

The upgrade will address a number of performance issues, and provide a robust and stable platform for our diverse range of E-learning activities. This is a minor upgrade in terms of functionality, and there will be no impact on existing activities and resources. We will take the opportunity to declutter the Moodle interface by removing some of the less useful tools and blocks.

The biggest change will be in the look-and-feel of Moodle as we move to support the increasing number of users who access Moodle with tablets and smartphones.& Put simply, Moodle will work on any such device. The E-Learning Team will shortly produce materials and offer workshops on how to make courses more mobile friendly.  Below is a rough-cut screenshot:

Other improvements include:
  • an overhauled front page with targeted support and information for users
  • a new editing toolbar
  • increased support for screen readers

Please refer to the dedicated page on the E-Learning website for further information.

Turnitin Administration and the Moodle rollover project

Turnitin assignments have been archived as part of the larger Moodle rollover and archive project.

  • Session 14/15 Turnitin Assignments in Banner courses (but not those delivered through Partnerships) were archived and moved to the Moodle Archive at
  • Turnitin assignments were deleted from 15/16 Moodle course spaces.  This prevents licensing, access, performance, and management issues arising from the re-use of expired Turnitin assignments.
Administrators/course editors should:
  • Create new Turnitin Assignments in Moodle 15/16 course spaces. These are now all available in Moodle at
  • Use the 14/15 Moodle course spaces to create Turnitin Assignments for resubmissions, at  This will consolidate all 14/15 Moodle/Turnitin activities.
  • The  Moodle-based support materials for creating and managing Turnitin assignments can be accessed directly at:

Moodle Rollover & Archiving complete

The scheduled Moodle rollover and archiving is complete.

  • Staff can now access and edit their refreshed 15/16 courses at
  • Students will be enrolled upon their 15/16 courses at when Banner records are updated.
  • Students will then be able to access their 15/16 courses at when staff make them available.
  • Staff and students can now access their 14/15 courses at  This is where any submissions, resubmissions, and resits relating to 14/15 should be carried out.
  • 13/14 courses are now archived offline, and can be restored on (staff) request.
Course owners/editors should:
  • Edit existing content
    • Reset start and finish dates for assignments and quizzes
    • Create new Turnitin assignments (Administration Teams usually perform this task)
    • Add introductory messages to discussion fora
  • Add new content and activities
  • Make courses available to students
Support materials for editing Moodle courses can be found in Moodle at