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Showing posts from 2017

How to conduct a full usability test

Usability testing is a useful tool in the developer's toolbox, but needs to be done consistently and fairly in order to make sure that everyone's expectations are met.

How to cure screen freeze

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I had a problem where my screen kept freezing while I was using Chrome, and a colleague recommended turning off hardware acceleration in order to stop that happening. It worked, so I thought  I would share how to do it.


Moodle Blue Card for lecturers

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Here at Oxford Brookes, we have a Blue Card scheme enabling students with specific learning difficulties (SpLDs) to flag their work with a blue card, so the tutor will mark it with due consideration.

There are two ways of submitting a Moodle assignment that might be required to be assessed differently if a student has a specific learning difficulty: the Turnitin assignment, and the Moodle assignment.

Here's what the JavaScript blue card functionality will look like in Moodle to a lecturer.

Please note this is a proof of concept and is not yet available in live Moodle.

We run a Moodle query in the background to check whether the student is entitled to a blue card, and only display the blue card button to them if they are entitled to use it.

When the lecturer opens the submissions to a Moodle or Turnitin assignment, the ones who have added a blue card will be highlighted.

Moodle Assignment
Log in to Moodle. Go to your course and then your assignment.

Click on "View/grade all submission…

PHP authentication on Google Cloud

How to set up an authentication module on Google Cloud  with PHP.


Step 1: Create your list of admin users Go to https://console.cloud.google.com/iam-admin/iam/project?project=<your_project_name>&authuser=0 and add users and assign roles to them. I used my work Gmail account as an admin user, and my personal Gmail as an ordinary user. Step 2. specify resources for login In your app.yaml file, specify which resources you want to be restricted to authenticated users, and which are admin-only. - url:/
script: index.php
login: required
secure: always
# this requires login but is available to all users

- url:/admin
script: admin/index.php
login: admin
secure: always
# this requires login and is only available to admin usersStep 3. Add authentication PHP to your header include This is the code for my normal user pages: <?php

use google\appengine\api\users\User;
use google\appengine\api\users\UserService;

$user =UserService::getCurrentUser();
if(isset($user)){

We're in Onstream

The pilot phase of the Brookes ID project was announced in the latest issue of Onstream, the staff magazine of Oxford Brookes University:
Brookes ID (Individual Development) is an inclusive co-curricular framework which has been created with students and is a PESE (Programme to enhance the Student Experience) project. It recognises and rewards student engagement and commitment beyond their programme of study and is aligned to the Brookes Guiding Principles. As part of the Brookes ID initiative a new app has been launched which will run this semester as a pilot, leading up to the official launch of Brookes ID expected in September 2017. The Brookes ID app has been developed by the project team (Professor Alison Honour ADSE, Dr Bob Champion PLSE, Lindsay Williams PLSE, Yvonne Aburrow) and the Student Experience team in OBIS, in partnership with students. It monitors the extra and co-curricular activities of students and rewards them with ‘achievements’. Initially the number of activities…

Moodle Blue Card for students

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Here at Oxford Brookes, we have a Blue Card scheme enabling students with specific learning difficulties (SpLDs) to flag their work with a blue card, so the tutor will mark it with due consideration.

There are two ways of submitting a Moodle assignment that might be required to be assessed differently if a student has a specific learning difficulty: the Turnitin assignment, and the Moodle assignment.

Here's what the JavaScript blue card functionality will look like in Moodle.

Please note this is a proof of concept and is not yet available in live Moodle.

First, we run a Moodle query in the background to check whether the student is entitled to a blue card, and only display the blue card button if they are entitled to use it.

Submitting a Turnitin assignmentOn the Moodle dashboard, click on the course name.
Click on the Turnitin assignment in the course
Click on the My Submissions tab


Click on the 'Flag with Blue Card' buttonEnter your essay title after the words 'Blue Card: …

Moodle Assignment Blue Card

Here at Oxford Brookes, we have a Blue Card scheme enabling students with specific learning difficulties (SpLDs) to flag their work with a blue card, so the tutor will mark it with due consideration.

We needed a way of making it easier for students to flag their work with a blue card, and I have come up with the following script, which goes into the Additional HTML section in Site Administration in Moodle, and works with the Moodle Assignment functionality (see previous post for a blue card script that works with the Turnitin plugin).

First the student clicks the button to add the blue card, which inserts a comment with the words "Blue Card" in the submission comments field. When the form is submitted, the JavaScript looks for a comment in the grading table, and adds a flag in the status column to remind the tutor to review the comments. The tutor can then display the comment and see the words "Blue Card" (which are a link to the dyslexia marking guidelines).



/* MOODL…

Turnitin Moodle Blue Card

Here at Oxford Brookes, we have a Blue Card scheme enabling students with specific learning difficulties (SpLDs) to flag their work with a blue card, so the tutor will mark it with due consideration.

We needed a way of making it easier for students to flag their work with a blue card, and I have come up with the following script, which goes into the Additional HTML section in Site Administration in Moodle, and works with the Turnitin plugin. (See the next post for a script that works with Moodle assignments.)

First the student clicks the button to add the blue card, which inserts the text "Blue Card: " at the start of the assignment title. When the form is submitted, the JavaScript looks for the text "Blue Card" on the next page, colours the table cell blue and appends a link to the dyslexia marking guidelines.





<script type="text/javascript">
var TurnitinBlueCardButton =  '<input type="button" id="tiibluecard" value="Flag…

Tooltip popup box for Moodle

I want to add a tooltip to an HTML element in Moodle, using the custom CSS available in the theme settings. I want only to use CSS, and not add any HTML or JavaScript to the page. Here's how I did it.


See the Pen Popup message (pure CSS) by Yvonne Aburrow (@vogelbeere) on CodePen.
This can be used to apply a popup message to any CSS class, and you can position the message anywhere on the page. You can style the popup message any way you want.

Please view the demo in CodePen for best results.

Agile roles

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There are a number of different roles in the agile methodology, and these need to be well-understood to make agile work effectively in your organisation. In particular, the scrum master and product owner need to have enough time to devote to doing their roles properly.

I must mention that as a female developer, I find a lot of the terminology used in Scrum rather macho and off-putting. I would like to see a shift in the culture on this, but unfortunately, the terms seem to be pretty ubiquitous these days.


DeveloperThe agile developer is a team player who commits to standardised development practices and sharing knowledge across the team. They are comfortable in different layers of the stack,m though they generally specialise in one of the layers.

In agile methodologies, the development team gets to decide which of the top priority stories in the product backlog they will work with next.

Scrum masterThe scrum master manages the scrum process. He or she convenes meetings, protects the team …

Agile artefacts

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For agile methodologies to succeed, there needs to be maximum transparency and planning. A number of agile artefacts have been developed to ensure that the team and the stakeholders have a clear understanding of what's happening.



Burndown chartFor each sprint, the development team commits to developing the features described in a number of user stories. Each story is assigned a number of points during the estimation meeting.

In order to ensure that all the promised features are developed during the sprint, the scrum master keeps a burndown chart to measure the team's velocity.

On day one, the total number of story points is marked on the top left of the chart. The next data point represents the remaining story points after the stories completed on day one have been subtracted.

The ideal trajectory is a straight line. If the team slows down (indicated by the "actual tasks remaining" line being above the "ideal tasks remaining" line) then they need to speed up a …

Agile methodology in the wild

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Agile methodologies like Scrum sound amazingly efficient when presented by people who have implemented them in a non-hostile environment. But conditions are not always perfect, and things can sometimes go wrong.

One of the key features of agile project methodologies is that they have different types of meetings. Each different type of meeting has a very specific function. They can become tedious and unproductive if they deviate from the prescribed form and function. With that in mind, let's look at the different types of meeting, how they are meant to work, and what can go wrong.
Three AmigosThis is a relatively new type of meeting in the agile toolkit, and was developed in 2013. Essentially, this is a meeting during which the business analyst (BA) presents the requirements and tests for a new feature. The Three Amigos (BA, developer, and QA) discuss the new feature and review the specification. The aim is to create a common understanding and shared vocabulary across these individual…

Getting agile to work for you

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Different project management tools will work for different types of work and different scales of organisation. Depending on the context, your project may work better with agile, lean, scrum, kanban, or some hybrid approach.



Use the right methodology for the projectAgile methodologies like Scrum work really well for development projects, usually ones where the team is focusing on one project at a time.  Agile approaches to marketing have also been devised, as the funnel approach to marketing lends itself particularly well to an agile process. According to the Scrum Alliance,
Scrum is an Agile framework for completing complex projects. Scrum originally was formalized for software development projects, but it works well for any complex, innovative scope of work. The possibilities are endless. The Scrum framework is deceptively simple.For tasks that are a one-off instance, such as support requests, a system like kanban, which enables staff to prioritise incoming tasks, may work better. The …