What's NEW in PolyLearn Moodle 3.1 (Fall 2016)

The PolyLearn system will be upgraded to Moodle version 3.1 on Sunday, September 11, 2016. This upgrade is a long release and allows PolyLearn to stay current with security patches and bug fixes for three years.

The new PolyLearn (Moodle 3.1) has many great additions to support teaching and learning.

NOTE: As always, make sure to use supported Browsers (Firefox v25.0, Safari v.6, and Chrome v30.0). Do not use Internet Explorer.

In this upgrade you will notice these changes:


New Theme

The new theme was created to be cleaner and works with mobile devices. This theme places most of the blocks on the left of the browser window allowing more room for course content. The only block on the right is the Course Copy and students do not see this block. Once you have used the Course copy tool, you can delete the block from your instructor view as well.

Mobile Theme view for faculty

Change Theme

If you would like to change your course to the new mobile friendly theme, make sure to copy your old course content into your Fall 2016 course shell first.

Once the content has been copied, change the theme in the Edit settings tool.

  1. In the Administration block (left side of page), click on Edit settings.
  2. Scroll down to the Appearance sections, choose the Force theme > Cal Poly Responsive option.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the Save changes button.

Since the copied course content used the old theme, the block layout will also be like the old theme. You can edit your block layout to match the new theme design by placing them on the left of the browser window.

  1. On the main page of the course, Turn editing on in the upper right corner.
  2. Find the block you want to move, click on the Actions icon > Configure (name of block).
  3. Click on the On this page section > Region then choose Left.
  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the Save changes button.
    Note: continue this process for all the other right side blocks. Remember, Course Copy doesn't appear for students, so you do not have to move that one.

Student view or the course in the new theme

Mobile theme student view


Recycle bin

The Recycle bin allows instructors to retrieve resources and activities. If you accidentally deleted a resources (book, URL, file, label, page, or folder) or activity (assignment, chat, choice, feedback, forum, glossary, lesson, questionnaire, quiz, wiki, blog, or workshop), the recycle been allows you to restore the item within 14 days.


Progress bar

The Progress bar - block, is a time-management tool for students.

  • Visual representation of activities to be completed
  • Colour-coded for quick reference
  • Overview for teachers, identify students at risk
  • Combined progress on Dashboard page

The instructor also can view students' progress on one page. The instructor selects which pre-existing activities/resources are to be included in the Progress Bar and when they should be completed/viewed. Ordering can be done by times/deadlines or by the ordering of activities in the course.


Lesson time limits

The Lesson activity is used for creating a collection of content pages for online instruction. This collection of pages creates a flowchart that can be either linear, for controlling the path or branching. Question pages can be attached directly following a content page for a material comprehension check, and questions can be put into "clusters" when multiple questions are desired following a content page. The instructor has full control over the pages that students jump to as they progress, which makes the Lesson a powerful teaching tool. Now a time limit can be set for the lesson.

screen image of lesson time limits               

To learn more about the Lesson tool, please view the tutorial.


Forum improvements

The Forum activity allows students and teachers to exchange ideas by posting comments as part of a 'thread'. Files such as images and links can be included in forum posts. The teacher can choose to rate forum posts and it is also possible to give students permission to rate each other's posts.

The News forum has been changed to "Announcements".

Instructors and students can now reply to forums via email. Within the email tool, use the normal reply option. An email confirmation will appear verifying the reply was successful posted.
NOTE: users can still reply to forums via PolyLearn like before.


Assignment grading improvements

The new Grade menu allows the instructor to annotate on a PDF, provide feedback, grade, and use advance grading (marking guides or rubrics) all on one page. To use this feature, within the Assignment > Feedback types, choose Feedback comments and Comment inline - Yes.

Feedback Types

Once the instructor grades a students' Assignment, the new Grader menu will appear.

    1. select the student
    2. annotate on the submitted file using the tools provided (only works with PDF files for now, but in the future will work for DOCX too)
    3. type in a grade value
    4. write comments

    Grade Icon

    To learn more about the Assignment tool, please view the tutorial.


Additional Quiz questions types

Additional question types have been added to the Quiz tool.

Drag and drop into text: Missing words in the question text are filled in using drag and drop.

Drag and drop markers: Markers are dragged and dropped onto a background image.

Drag and drop into image: Images or text labels are dragged and dropped into drop zones on a background image.

Select missing words: This is very similar to the Drag and drop into text question type, but uses drop-down menus in the text instead of drag-boxes. This works well where the question text is very long and you would have to scroll a lot to do drag and drop.
missing word example

To learn more about the Quiz tool or Question Types please view the tutorial.


Question Banks Have Moved

The question bank is a feature within PolyLearn (Moodle) that allows the instructor to store and reuse questions within a single course, all courses your are the instructor and exported to share with other instructors. These questions can be categorized and used accordingly. There is by default a category created for the course as well as categories created for each quiz that is added to the course. These quiz categories can only be accessed from within the quiz itself; they are not available from the course home page.

question bank boxed

To learn more about Question Banks, please view the tutorial.


New Gradebook

The new Gradebook will look very different at the first glance. Although configuring the gradebook is very much the same. Additionally, new grading reports were added to grade for a single student or activity as well as assist with viewing grade history.

1. a pull-down menu to see all options located in the tabs.
2. tab menu located under the pull-down list.

Screen image of Gradebook

3. Categories and Items is now called "Setup".
4. Sum of grade "Natural" the value would be blank. Simple weighted mean of grade, type in the percent value.
5. Weighted mean of grade can be changed by selecting the check box and changing the value.

The instructor can view the student's Gradebook.

1. View the full Gradebook for a student.
2. View the full Gradebook for a student and edit grades.

Now instructors can provide bulk grades to a group of users within an activity.
screen image of bulk grade tool

Instructors can view and download the Gradebook history.

To learn more about the Gradebook tool, please view the tutorial.


Paste from Spreadsheet into the Gradebook

The PolyLearn Gradebook - Import tool now allows faculty to Copy/Paste.

paste data into the Gradebook Import

To learn more about the Gradebook - Paste from Spreadsheet tool, please view the tutorial.


HTML Editor - Atto

Moodle has created a HTML editor called "Atto." This is now the default HTML editor for all users. This HTML editor creates accessible (ADA) content and saves your work automatically while typing.

"It is the policy of the CSU to make information technology resources and services accessible to all CSU students, faculty, staff and the general public regardless of disability." CSU Chancellors Office
Web Accessibility at CSU

Accessible Web Pages

  • Use heading styles instead of font changes. Word has many built-in style sheets and you can create your own. Using styles also allows you to create a table of contents that automatically adjusts to document changes.
  • Use the built-in formats for bullet lists, columns and tables.
  • Avoid floating text boxes.
  • Include alternative text for images.
  • NEVER use Microsoft Word to create or edit web pages.

If you prefer using the OLD HTML editor instead (Tiny MCE), you can change your HTML editor.
If you would like to use the Tiny MCE HTML editor, please view the instructions.

Atto top buttons, screen image

  1. Bold
  2. Italic
  3. Style (accessible - ADA)
  4. Color (accessible - ADA)
  5. Bulleted list
  6. Numbered list
  7. Add link
  8. Unlink
  9. Add image
  10. Manage embedded files
  11. Underline
  12. Strike-through
  13. Subscript
  14. Superscript
  1. Align left
  2. Align center
  3. Align right
  4. Increase indent
  5. Decrease indent
  6. Equation editor
  7. Special character
  8. Table
  9. Clear formatting
  10. Undo
  11. Redo
  12. Accessibility checker
  13. Screen-reader helper
  14. HTML code view