Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Moodle’s redesign is much-needed and long-deserved

If you’ve logged on to Moodle in the past week, then you probably have noticed that Moodle isn’t Moodle anymore –– at least, not the Moodle you know.

Gone are the crusty, semi-responsive, gradient-filled elements of old. In their place are flat, simple, single-color cards, tiles and drawers –– much more fitting for the year 2024. Course pages are cleaner, easier to read and consistent in their appearance. Course elements are summarized in a nice table-of-contents on the left side, in  case things do get too complicated. Iconography has been standardized, looking more abstract rather than glossy & skeuomorphic – also in line with trends in the year 2024.

I welcome these new changes, and I think you should too. The Moodle upgrade gives a fresh look to something old and antiquated, employs a consistent and clean theme and deters professors from using alternative platforms like Achieve, Gradescope, or their own personal websites. For an institution as expensive to attend as Calvin University, Moodle’s redesign is much-needed and long-deserved.

Calvin has wiped all course pages from prior to Fall 2023, effectively. Or, at the very least, it has revoked student access to them. It is unknown if/where these pages have been archived, but you effectively can no longer consult your old macroeconomics class to know what “marginal propensity to consume” means, in case you’ve forgotten.

As sad as this is, it’s convenient to be able to load your dashboard page and not get bombarded by courses you took 2 years ago.

It is important to know that Moodle is not a website unique to Calvin. Moodle is an LMS (Learning Management System), a forum-style academic platform usually used by schools and universities. Unlike other LMS’s, Moodle is open-source; you can find the source code on Github, as well as Moodle’s own documentation website. If you wanted, you could set up a Moodle for your dogs to write highly critical essays about you, or to sharpen your knowledge of macroeconomics –– although that would probably be a waste of your time.

Moodle is used by a handful of academic institutions around the world, both at the college level and below. A few minutes down the Beltline, Cornerstone University has their own moodle.

Moodle’s use isn’t restricted to college-level institutions. Holland Christian High School, of which I am a graduate, also uses Moodle. In fact, the entire Holland Christian K-12 system uses Moodle. Since laptops were incorporated into the curriculum in 2013, I have been using Moodle for over a decade. And, for the most part, not much has changed.

Not everything is shiny and new –– a lot of the old structure still remains, glazed over with new textures. The “grades” section is still very much the same as it was prior to Moodle’s redesign. It’s still very busy, somewhat confusing, and unpleasant to look at –– even when professors use it for its intended purpose.

The “messages” drawer is almost completely untouched. It looks graphically the same, and you can see old messages from classes you took years ago –– the latter of which it appears CIT has forgotten to wipe. For some reason, Moodle DMs still use military time –– which is incredibly awkward when you’re trying to slide into somebody’s Moodle DMs. Additionally, if you’re in a conversation and send a message at the same time as your counterpart, there’s a fair chance it won’t show up (yes, we tested it).

Perhaps, with Moodle now in shape, Calvin could set their sights on Workday –– which is orders of magnitude more frustrating, inconsistent and unusable. Since Calvin ditched self-service years ago in favor of Workday, it’s hard to find somebody who isn’t frustrated by it. Unlike Moodle, Workday is closed-source, proprietary, for-profit software –– and it shows. Workday does not have nearly as much flexibility as Moodle, so Calvin’s effort to improve Workday will certainly be an uphill battle.

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