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Moodle (not plugin) of the month – Cohort Theme

Did you know you can deliver a specific Theme based on a users Cohort in Moodle?

OK, so this month it’s a bit of a cheat, because this is not actually a plugin, it’s a new feature introduced in Moodle 3.5 that could only be achieved previously by using a plugin, so you can appreciate how we ended up here 😉

A new feature introduced in Moodle 3.5 is the ability to set a Theme for a Cohort.

If Cohort Themes have been enabled in the Theme settings page of Site administration, then a specific Cohort Theme can be chosen when creating or editing the Cohort.

This opens up the possibility of using a variety of similar Themes, but perhaps each with a slightly different colour scheme, or a different logo, and then to have the Theme displayed to anyone in a specific Cohort.

As a simplistic example, people studying Liberal Arts courses might be delivered an orange Theme, History a red Theme, and Environmental and Science a green Theme.

Cohorts could even be for people from a number of different companies, all logging into courses on your Moodle site, and yet each Cohort (company) gets their own Theme, and the own logo!  Neat.

Can you think of any other creative ways this new feature could be used?

Stuart Mealor
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Stuart Mealor

Stuart is interested in all things e-learning, with specific interests in Moodle, e-learning strategy, and business development. His experience in education over 30 years, MBA in International Business, and knowledge of e-learning systems implementation, together with graphic design background, give him a unique skill set for e-learning projects.

4 thoughts on “Moodle (not plugin) of the month – Cohort Theme

  • Ah, I see the actual content and learning experience as ‘form and function’. So do we actually need to separate the two? That the environment that supports the learning experience should support it but not be intrusive. It is like driving a car. When not driving you learn about all of the functions, how the car operates, what is required to maintain it and ‘perhaps’ its colour and looks for the impression it gives off to people. However, when actually driving you’re not so concerned about that, all you need to worry about is the road and using the user interface correctly in order to get from ‘a’ to ‘b’ or the enjoyment of the drive. The user interface itself blurs into the background to be almost seamless but at the same time comfortable to use over a period of time. A Moodle theme (in conjunction with the browser, course design, device user interface, network speed…..) should be the same thing.

  • Interesting Stuart. Whilst Moodle allows this to happen, what we really need is the ability to change theme setting values on a per cohort basis and ‘inherit’ the ones that are not changed. Then you would be able to provide a consistent environment that has the same look and feel but with subtle differences without resorting to child themes of the theme you are using.

    We are also striving for a more personalised learning environment that is tailored to our own individual style. But this can also detach us from the learning group as individuality separates us from the collective that facilitates team learning. It is a fine balance between a sense of belonging to a group whilst at the same time needing to be an individual. Themes are an artistic expression of the environment that we interact with to learn and therefore has the same tightrope to walk upon. Its like a collection of houses in a terraced street, from the outside they are all similar but with small differences, however on the inside there is more creativity in the way they are decorated and populated with functional technology.

    • blank ElearningWorld Admin

      Great analogies Gareth 🙂

    • That’s really interesting how you related the Theme to a sense of belonging. I often think of a Moodle Theme in the same way as a browser Theme these days. I’ve seen all sorts of colour schemes, font sizes, arrangements of buttons, etc. being used by people – in some cases because they have tali red their browser environment, and in some cases because they don’t know better, lol. But it does leave me with a question about how much we can separate the environment of Moodle (browser, Theme, and main course design) from the actual content and learning xpeience?

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