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Moodle Makeover

sample moodle banners

Students and NC State faculty have seen a facelift in Moodle this summer.

A group of DELTA staff consisting of Steve Bader, Nicole Hazelett and PJ Odom (now at LSU Athletics) worked under the coordination of David Howard to update one of NC State’s main learning management systems, Moodle. The revisions came after recognizing the need for consistency, accessibility and user-friendliness within the site. The Moodle updates went live for summer 2016 courses.

Prior to the team’s work, there were 60 different themes that could be applied to a Moodle site. With so many templates, the maintenance was problematic: several had distinct back-end code and updating image files was demanding. All of the new themes are based on one HTML / CSS foundation and all graphics are the same size. What’s more, college and program names are no longer part of the graphics but are instead superimposed over them.  “Now all themes are created and displayed the same way, just with different graphics,” said David Howard.

The maintenance load for themes is now reduced, but these technical reasons alone were not the only causes for upgrades to the site; aesthetics played a part as well. Moodle is now up to date with individual college and NC State branding. Professors and instructors can still make their Moodle sites more personal by creating their own banner, though this lessens the chance that they will be supporting the brand of the university or their college.

While these changes may not appear to be monumental on the screen, Howard believes they have a tendency to resonate deeper than the eye.

“Being brand-compliant gives the possibility of a more consistent experience and helps reinforce the feeling of NC State. Like using brick in most of our buildings, it gives you something to identify with. The more consistent our look and feel is, the stronger some of your feelings can be” he said.

In addition to everything else, the new themes include changes in color choices, heading styles and various other features that make them easier for those using assistive technology. Web accessibility is a key value at NC State and the team aimed for balance while ensuring compliance with accessibility and brand standards.

Bader, Hazelette, Odom and Howard collectively worked on this project for six months. This timeline includes the planning process of putting together a proposal, brainstorming what the team wanted to accomplish and getting “buy in” from WolfWare governance, a group overseeing what is done with NC State’s learning management systems.