Think of any software that you use and you’ll know how important updates are to its continued usage. It is a similar case with the Learning Management System, Moodle™. Software updates not just bring in new features but also fix bugs and patch security loopholes. Software are updated to address issues and improvise continuously to present its latest versions.
If you are still using a default theme for your Moodle™site, then it’s time to get with the times.
Moodle™ 4.0 was released in May of this year, and it brought a lot of new features to the table. And this had created quite a stir! However, that doesn’t mean that other Moodle™ themes are obsolete. In fact, there are still a lot of good reasons to use a Moodle™ theme for your site.
Before we dig deeper into the ‘WHY’ let’s know what this new upgrade offers you…
What’s new in Moodle™ 4.0?
Moodle™ has introduced several new features and capabilities with version 4.0. Some of these changes are designed to make Moodle™ easier to use, including a redesigned interface and improved accessibility for screen readers while others make it possible to deploy new types of learning experiences using the LMS.
Engagement with the Moodle™community, including Premium Moodle™ Partners, was instrumental in the development o fMoodle™ 4.0. Moodle™ UX team conducted a survey to identify the aspects of Moodle™ that most challenged the community on a daily basis. The overarching message from the Moodle™ UX team’s survey was the need for modernization and improvements to the platform’s user experience.
Anyone who has used Moodle™for a long time will agree that the software has improved substantially since its initial release in 2007. With the final release in April 2022, we thought it would be helpful for users and administrators to know exactly what has changed within the latest version of Moodle™ (other than all those glorious new icons).
Here are some highlights of what you get with the latest upgrade of Moodle™
Moodle™ 4.0 makes it easier and more streamlined for both admins and users to navigate the Moodle™ LMS platform. You can easily access your courses by clicking on the My courses tab at the top of the page. It becomes easy to find your way around the course and activities with clear tab menus.
A free trial of BigBlueButton is provided for live online conferencing.
New plugins for conducting Quizzes and preparing Question Banks are added with the ability to show or hide sections such as comments and usage.
The process for creating courses has also been improved for Moodle™ 4.0, providing administrators and teachers with a better experience when adding new courses to Moodle™ LMS.
You can also access the feature of ‘User Tours’ that guides the new users about your site.
Moodle™ 4.0 comes with an improved Timeline on the Dashboard, you can stay on track with deadlines.
There’s an option to switch to edit mode so that you can add or view blocks, and open the new block drawer.
There’s also a Report builder feature that allows you to create and share custom reports.
You can create Assignments with time constraints, this allows you to set a deadline for assignments to encourage students to complete them on time.
Site admin presets allows admins to easily transition between multiple sets of features, it also maintains settings and plugin state (enabled/disabled) in “presets.”
There is a new activity header class that handles the display of activity-specific information.
For all Moodle™activities, the activity icons have been revamped and updated. For example, A simple black monochrome symbol with a transparent backdrop will appear when viewing the new icons in a file manager, for the quiz activity.
If you’re a developer:
A set of SCSS variables can be used to customize the new course index functionality. Instead of creating custom CSS, you can use them to customize the look and feel. The previous and next links presented beneath each activity are no longer essential and will be eliminated with the introduction of the course index component.
The list of blocks in the “Add a block” menu was extremely extensive. To shorten this list, a few changes have been made.
The course format has gone through multiple modifications. The majority of the courses are in the process of transitioning away from the previous rendering system and toward templates.
Each Moodle™ installation now includes a new User Interface (UI) Component library, which serves as a documentation system for all Bootstrap and custom Moodle™ components. The Component Library is a tool that assists developers in designing user interfaces, as well as a testing and documentation tool for theme developers.
And this is a recurring theme: widespread improvements to UX throughout the LMS make it much easier to navigate and use.
Do you still need a Moodle™ theme after the new 4.0 release?
The answer is YES! And here’s why – Moodle™ 4.0 is here, and it’s a great upgrade. But it can’t be customized to suit your branding. First impressions still matter, and a good Moodle™ theme can help make your site look more professional and polished. With so many sites using Moodle™ 4.0 theme, it’s important to make yours stand out from the crowd. A good Moodle™ theme can help you do that by making your site more unique and eye-catching.
There’s a reason why themes are one of the most downloaded features on Moodle™. Using a custom theme can boost engagement, increase user retention and make your learning platform more engaging. A custom theme is a collection of templates and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) that change the appearance of your LMS.
So, even though the newest version of Moodle™ is a massive improvement on its predecessors, it doesn’t mean that users will instantly upgrade. And if they don’t, that probably means they won’t use the new features either. It’s because the new version still lags behind the modern UI that some highly competitive themes provide along with great features.
Reasons you need a good Moodle™ theme despite Moodle™ 4.0 is here
One of the main reasons to stick with a Moodle™ theme is that it can be customized to match your branding. The default style of Moodle™ 4.0 is quite different from previous versions, and may not be appropriate for all institutions. Moreover, many themes come with additional features like quiz modules.
A good Moodle™ theme can help improve the usability of your site by making it more user-friendly and intuitive. This is especially important if you have new users who are not familiar with Moodle™. Let’s take a closer look at some of the top reasons why you need to get yourself a theme right now!
#1 Branding in Moodle™
When it comes to eLearning, the online learning environment is your brand’s storefront. And the way that the storefront looks and feels is a key part of your image. Your Moodle™ theme is the first thing people see when they plug into your LMS. It’s also the linchpin of your custom branding, defining how your eLearning portal looks, feels, and sounds. So it’s imperative to make sure your Moodle™ theme creates a strong first impression.
Branding is a lot more than just slapping your logo on a template. A good Moodle™ theme will let you customize your site to match your brand, making it more recognizable and memorable for your users.
A good-looking Moodle™ theme will make your courses look more appealing and professional, leading to more engaged students. A good Moodle™ theme will let you customize your site to match your brand, making it more recognizable and memorable for your users.
Protip – If you want to transform the way your default Moodle™ looks and functions, you need to change your Moodle™ UI using a good theme that is also fully compatible with Moodle™ 4.0
You could try out Edwiser RemUI to beautifully change up the look and feel of your elearning site, in the latest version of Moodle™.
#2 Adding colors and required fonts
It is highly recommended to customize the color scheme of your theme. The new Moodle™ 4.0 doesn’t allow the user to select custom colors for the site and the admin cannot opt-in to enable this feature.
But, if you want to keep a site uniform, using a color scheme is critical to help users navigate through content and feel comfortable with a consistent design. Your brand color is also a unique characteristic of your identity. Even your color can help learners recognize you and differentiate it from competing brands.
The use of fonts is also highly recommended to make your Moodle™ theme look friendlier and more professional. You can choose from a set of pre-selected fonts or upload your own fonts to be used on the site. Moodle™ 4.0 doesn’t offer some great new improved fonts and it still lacks in a lot of areas.
For example, The new version has no option to change the fonts of their site. This is a major issue since Moodle™ themes are not very appealing in terms of fonts and colors, especially when using the Moodle™ core themes (the same goes for extensions developed by third parties).
#3 Customizing individual pages
Moodle™ has a fixed page structure set by default. But you might need to create some individual pages which differ from the usual convention. For example, you might want to add custom pages for new activities and demo courses.
There are several benefits of having custom pages in Moodle™ – better aesthetics, flexibility in page designing, change in the page layout as per e-learning needs, and it helps with optimizing learner experience, personalized design, and so on.
#4 Creating a custom homepage or landing page
Basic home pages have the same header, body, and footer, whereas the modern homepage is responsive, unique, and engaging. The modern homepage, in particular, is easy to use and flexible so it can adapt to the learner’s browsers. The homepage needs to be user-friendly.
Today, we are expecting so much more from our homepages. We want them to be fun and creative, yet educational and helpful. It’s a tough combo to achieve.
When you look at your homepage, how many of your visitors can clearly explain what your page is about and what they will get if they click on it?
You may still need to create an intuitive home page with Moodle™ 4.0. If you do not want to confuse your visitors, but rather lead them comfortably through your online learning environment, consider a theme that lets you create and customize a user-friendly homepage.
#5 Since the design is fixed, adding attention-grabbing elements or extra UI elements is not possible without a theme
Moodle™ 4.0 design is fixed and if you wish to customize you may need to fiddle with CSS or HTML codes. Now, that’s tricky, because playing around with codes to add extra elements can mess things up, at least with the new 4.0 version.
That’s why if you wish to revamp the look by adding attention-grabbing elements or extra UI elements, you need a good theme that’s easily customizable.
A well-designed Moodle™ theme can make using the platform simpler and more intuitive for both admins and students, improving the overall learning experience.
A new Moodle™ theme can give your courses a much-needed facelift and help keep things feeling fresh and up-to-date. Having a great-looking website is just as important as having an easy-to-navigate one. A good theme can do wonders for user experience and engagement.
Apart from saving you lots of time and effort in developing new course pages and blocks, which are the critical elements of a theme, a pre-made site makes your website look more professional and engaging. It also boosts the user adoption rate by making it easier to navigate.
A good Moodle™ theme is an investment that will pay off in the long run by helping you create a better Moodle™ site that is more likely to attract and retain users.
In conclusion, even though Moodle™ 4.0 includes a new default theme, there are still many benefits to using another theme. A new theme can help you brand your Moodle™ site, create a unique look and feel, and add additional functionality.