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News block

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Edited by Sam Marshall, Thursday, 12 Jul 2012, 20:28

We've just released a new plugin for Moodle 2.2+. (Yes, '+': purely by coincidence, this one already works on Moodle 2.3!)

It's a block that displays news messages, and we've called it the news block. (Not a very original name. Sorry. We did consider 'the boggleogglesquoop block' but it didn't fit in the dropdown.)

This is a replacement for the standard Moodle 'news forum + latest news block' combination.

I made a short (5m) screencast demonstrating how to use the block (running on standard Moodle 2.3). Assuming I haven't run out of bandwidth, you might as well watch the screencast; there aren't any jokes but at that length you can probably survive it anyway.

Features include various options for how messages display (e.g. hiding the author name, if the author isn't important), setting up messages in advance to appear on a certain date, multiple news blocks on the same course if you want to separate different types of news, grouping support so that some messages only appear to a subset of students, and integrated RSS input and output. Combined, you can use the RSS features to post shared news (for example, have a science faculty news block on one course, then include those messages automatically in news blocks on each of a dozen science courses).

The block was originally designed by me; we paid for development by Catalyst. After that initial development we've done minor changes in-house (bug-fixing etc.), and Anthony Forth, another OU lead developer, added grouping support.

To get the block for your own system, download it via the GitHub site.

Disclaimer: the block probably hasn't been much tested on systems that are different to the OU's. I recommend that you try out any new plugins on a test system before using them in production. Unless you really like downtime. smile

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Sam, You mention support for groupings - are these Moodle groupings, or Moodle groups? I like the ability to share news easily across courses via RSS. Thanks!

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Michael: It's groupings only.

That makes sense for situations like the example I gave because in Moodle, groupings are what's generally used to divide people into different categories.

It would be nice if the block also supported groups, because then you could easily have e.g. multiple tutor groups (different groups of people within the same category) and the tutor of one group wants to post a message to his/her group. Unfortunately, at present it does not!

If your course only has a few groups you could easily create a grouping for each group and use it that way, but this is not practical for large courses and doesn't give full control of permissions in the normal way. (I.e. with this block you either have permission to post news to the block, or you don't; if it had proper group support, you would be able to configure it so that tutors could post messages but only within their own group.)


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Hi Sam This looks fantastic, well done to those involved! Off to install it on my dev site now smile I wonder if the teacher should have any specified grouping displayed in brackets to distinguish it as they do for activities? Do you have a CONTRIB tracker item I can add this to or are you happy with this comment as a feature request! Cheers Teresa

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Thanks Teresa (note: slow reply/moderation because I was on holiday).

For information, if anyone has feature requests/bug reports/patches, the 'Issues' tab on the GitHub site that I linked can be used.