How to use Dropbox as a Moodle file repository

Dropbox is a popular online file storage app. Imagine it as a type of online USB drive, which you can access anywhere in the world as long as you have a computer and internet connection. If you have a Dropbox account and also use Moodle, you will be glad to know that in Moodle 2.x you can connect the two together and use Dropbox as a Moodle file repository.

Step 1

Sign up for a Dropbox account if you don’t already have one here: https://www.dropbox.com/

Step 2

Log into your Dropbox account and go to the “Dropbox for Developers” page by following the link here – https://www.dropbox.com/developers

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Step 3

Navigate to the “My apps” page and create your Dropbox app by clicking the “Create an App” button.

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Step 4

Enter an app name, description and select the access level to be “Full Dropbox” and click the “Create” button.

Note: the app name needs to comply with Dropbox’s branding guide, otherwise your app won’t be approved later when you apply for production status.

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Step 5

Now you should be directed to the app’s configuration page, where you can find the App Key and App secret as shown in the figure below. later you will need to enter the key and secret in Moodle.

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Step 6

Log in to Moodle as an administrator and navigate to the “Manage repositories” option and enable Dropbox.

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Step 7

Once Dropbox is enabled, you will be directed to the configuration page where you can enter the Dropbox app key and secret from Step 5. Click “save” and you are done.

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Step 8

Now you need to go back to the Dropbox Developers page and apply for production status for the app.

Step 9

Upon Dropbox’s approval (you should get an email from them), you can start using Dropbox as your Moodle’s file repository.

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How to use Google Docs as a Moodle file repository

Google Docs is another wonderful free online service provided by Google. It can be used as an online office suite where you can easily create or edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations. It can also be used as an online file repository, which enables you to access your docs from any computer with an internet connection.

In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to use Google Docs as your Moodle file repository.

Important: If you are using a Moodle 2.1.1 installation, the Google Docs repository may not work due to a known bug which affects this version. To be safe, it is recommended to upgrade your Moodle to the latest version. There is a forum post on the official Moodle site about this where you can find out more about this issue for Moodle 2.1.1.

Step 1

You need to have an account with Google to be able to use Google Docs, so sign up for one, if you don’t already have a Google account.

Since only files in Google Docs format will show up in Moodle’s File Picker later, you need to make sure all the uploaded files (eg. Word, PowerPoint, PDF) are converted to Google Docs format. Google Docs will do the conversion for you when you are uploading the files, as long as you remember to tick the two options as shown in the figure below.

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Step 2

Log in to Moodle as an administrator and navigate to the “Manage repositories” option and enable Google Docs.

Site administration > Plugins > Repositories > Manage repositories

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Once Google Docs is enabled, you will be directed to the configuration page where you can enter a new name for the repository.

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Step 3

Go to a course and turn editing on. Select “File” from the “Add a resource” drop-down list.

Note: Only “File” supports Google Docs.

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Step 4

On the “Adding a new File” page, click the “Add…” button. A Moodle File Picker will appear and Google Docs should be listed as one of the available repositories. Select Google Docs as the repository and click the “Login” button to log into your Google account.

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Step 5

You will need to grant Moodle access to your Google account by clicking the “Grant access” button.

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Step 6

Now you should see all your Google docs as shown in the figure below, and you can select any file you like for using in the course.

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How to use Flickr as a Moodle image repository

Like Youtube is known as a great online video repository, the Yahoo-owned service Flickr has gained it’s popularity as a great online image repository. It is reported that there are now 6 billion images hosted on Flickr and the number is still growing.

And again, just like Youtube videos, Flickr images can be used to enrich your teaching / training material. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to use Flickr as your Moodle site’s image repository. This tutorial has three parts – Part One is about things you need to do in Flickr; Part Two contains all the Moodle-related steps; In Part Three, a test is carried out to check everything is working as it should.

Part One : Flickr

Step 1

If you don’t already have a free Flickr account, you need to sign up for one.

Step 2

Make sure you are logged into Flickr, and follow the link here to get a Flickr API key for your Moodle site.

Step 3

Once you click the link provided above, you should see a screen like the one shown below. Click the “Get Another Key” button to proceed.

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Step 4

Now you should arrive at the “App Garden” page, and you need to click the “APPLY FOR A NON-COMMERCIAL KEY” button.

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Step 5

On the “Tell us about your app” page, fill in the form and submit.

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Step 6

Ok, now the API key is generated for you! Copy the key. (Ctrl+C on PC or Cmd+C on Mac)

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Part Two: Moodle

Step 1

Log into your Moodle site as an admin user, and navigate to the “Manage repositories” option:

Settings > Site administration > Plugins > Repositories > Manage repositories

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Step 2

On the “Manage repositories” page, find “Flickr public” (NOT “Flickr”) and choose “Enable and Visible” from it’s options drop-down list.

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Step 3

On the “Flickr public configuration” page, paste the API key into the relevant box as shown below. Save and you are all good to go.

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Part Three: Testing

Congratulations, you have just set Flickr up as your Moodle site’s image repository! Now let’s test it out by adding a Flickr image to a course.

Step 1

Go to a course and turn editing on. Choose “Label” from the “Add a resource…” drop-down list.Click the image icon on the editor menu bar like shown below.

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Step 2

After clicking the “Find or upload an image…” button, another popup window called “File picker” will appear where you will see “Flickr public” as a repository option. Click the “Flickr public” button and you can start searching the images using the search form on the right-hand side pane.

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Step 3

I’ve done a search for “Moodle” and I got 126 pages of related images!

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Step 4

I decided to pick a poster about new features in Moodle 2.0. By default, when you save the image, the image will be stored in your Moodle site. However, if you have limited server space or bandwidth you might want to check the “Link external” option and let Flickr host the image. The drawback of the latter method is that if the image is deleted from Flickr by the user, it will also disappear from your Moodle site as you are only providing a shortcut pointing to the image on Flickr, so if the actual image gets deleted/moved the shortcut would no longer work.

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Step 5

Click the “Select this file” button and the image should be inserted into the editor. Save and return to the course and you will see the Flickr image has been inserted into the course.

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And that’s it. Now you know how to use Flickr as your image repository for Moodle – we hope you enjoyed our tutorial.

How to visually track student progress in a Moodle course

Recently, I was asked if there is a way for students and teachers to track the progress in a Moodle course. After some looking around on Moodle.org, I discovered a wonderful third party plugin called “Progress Bar” which does exactly just that, and even better, the progress data is visualized so it is very intuitive for users. This plugin is contributed by Michael de Raadt and he has made a great video demonstration about the plugin as well.

I’ve installed the plugin on our Moodle demo site, so if you are interested you can log into Demo Course 01 to have a look (Username: user2 Password: user2demo).

The progress bar on our Moodle demo site looks slightly different from the original one, as I tweaked the plugin so it fits in better with our Moodle site’s style.

Below are the steps you can take to make the progress bar work for your Moodle site:

Step 1

Download the plugin and install. You can follow the instruction on the Moodle official website page for this plugin.

Step 2

Log in as an admin user. Go to a course you’d like to track progress, and turn on editing.

Step 3

Once editing is on, you should see a block called “Add a block”. Choose “Progress Bar” from the drop down list, and the block will be added. Click the configuration button.

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Step 4

Now you should see the configuration page for the Progress Bar block, where you can customise the settings according to your needs. The settings are pretty much self-explanatory, but if in doubt you can always click the (?) help icons to get more instructions.

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Step 5

Save the configuration and logout. Log in again as a student who is enrolled on the course. The figure below shows you what happens to the progress bar before and after the student interacting with one of the course resources/activities.

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Step 6

Log in as the site admin or the course teacher, you can also check all of your students’ progress by clicking the “Overview of students” link in the Progress Bar block as shown below.

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How to use Google Analytics for your Moodle 2.0 site

Do you want to obtain detailed statistics about the visitors to your Moodle site? If the answer is yes then you need to use Google Analytics to track the site traffic. Google Analytics is a free yet very powerful web analytics tool, and is widely used by all types of websites nowadays.

Essentially there are only two steps involved to start gathering information : Step 1 – Get your tracking code from Google Analytics. Step 2 – Add the tracking code to your Moodle site.

Ok, let’s get cracking!

Step 1

You need to have an account with Google to be able to use Google Analytics, so sign up for one here if you don’t already have Google account for your organisation. Once you’ve got a Google account, you can create your website profile in Google Analytics and get the tracking code for your Moodle site.

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The tracking code should look something like below, where “UA-xxxxxxxx-x” is your site ID.

<script type="text/javascript">

  var _gaq = _gaq || [];
  _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-xxxxxxxx-x']);
  _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);

  (function() {
    var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;
    ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js';
    var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
  })();

</script>

Step 2

Log into your Moodle site as an admin user, and navigate to the Additional HTML option:

Settings > Site administration > Appearance > Additional HTML

Paste the tracking code into the first box which is called “Within HEAD” and save.

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Ta da! All done. Now you can sit back and relax. Give it 24 hours, and Google Analytics will work it’s magic and give you insight of your Moodle site traffic.

How to install a new Mahara Theme

We have just released our first free Mahara theme – Orange. The theme is developed to be consistent with our free Moodle theme – Mandarin, so you can use them together to form a seamless “Mahoodle” setup.

You can get the theme zip file from the freebies page, and the following steps will show you how to install the theme for your Mahara 1.4 site.

Step 1

Download our free Mahara theme Orange here.

Step 2

Unpack the theme zip file and extract the /orange/ folder and the files.

Step 3

Upload the /orange/folder to your hosting server’s Mahara theme directory. You can use an FTP program to do so.

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Step 4

Log into your Mahara site as an admin, and navigate to the Site Settings:

Site Administration > Configure Site > Site Options > Site Settings

Step 5

Select the “Orange” theme from the Theme’s drop-down list as shown on the figure below.

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There you have it – the new theme is activated.

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How to bulk upload users to Mahara

Adding users one by one in Mahara can be a tedious admin job. Luckily, Mahara actually provides a quick and easy way for adding multiple users at one go. All you need to do is – first, create a CSV (comma-separated values) file with all users’ login details, and then upload the file to Mahara.

Step 1

Create a CSV file using using Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice Spreadsheet.

Here I’m using OpenOffice. You need to create a table as shown in the figure below and the first row must include “username”, “firstname”, “lastname”,”password” and “email”, as by default, those four elements are compulsory for creating a user account in Mahara.

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Make sure you save as the file type “CSV”.

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Tip: If your organisation has already got a user information management system in place, such as SIMS, you can probably export information of all/selected users as a CSV file. Some editing to make the exported CSV comply with Mahara’s requirements may be needed (such as the fact that Mahara requires passwords to be at least six characters long and contain at lease one digit and two letters).

Step 2

Log into your Mahara site as an admin user. Navigate to the “Add Users by CSV” page and upload the CSV file.

Site Administration>Users>Add Users by CSV

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Step 3

Now, if you go back to the User Search page you should see the new users have been added to your Mahara site.

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How to pull a Twitter Feed into Moodle

Note: The method described in this tutorial is no longer working as Twitter retired its API v1 in June 2013. Check out our new blog post for the latest method.

Twitter has become ubiquitous on the web nowadays. Displaying your organization’s Twitter Feed on your website is an effective way to inform your site visitors or users about your latest news and events.

Is it possible to do this in a Moodle site and how? Some of you may wonder. Yes, it is indeed possible and I’m going to show you all the steps to achieve this.

I’m using our Moodle demo site for this tutorial. To find out more about the demo, you can visit the demo page here.

Step 1

Log into your Moodle site as an admin user, and turn on editing.

Step 2

You should see a block called “Add a block” once the editing mode is on . Choose “Remote RSS Feeds” from the drop down list.

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Step 3

A block called “Remote news feed” should be added to your site by now. Click the configuration button as shown in the figure below. (Note: We have customized our demo’s Moodle icon set so they will look different from the generic Moodle icons.)

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Step 4

Let’s add the Twitter Feed first before doing any configuration work. So click the “Add/edit feeds” link and then on the next page click the “Add a new feed” button.

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Step 5

Enter your Twitter Feed code into the Feed URL text field:

(You need to replace the **** with your twitter name)

http://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.rss?screen_name=****

Here I’m using our company’s Twitter Feed as an example:

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Step 6

Click the “Add a new feed” button, and your Twitter Feed will be added to the Feed list.

Step 7

Now we have added the Twitter Feed, but we still need to tell Moodle to display the feed by configuring the feed settings. To do so, first of all, you need to navigate back to the homepage by clicking the “Home” link in the breadcrumb. Secondly, in order to get back to the configuration page, you need to repeat Step 1 to Step 4 as explained above.

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The figure below explains the main parameters you can define/change depending on your needs.

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Step 8

Once you are happy with the configuration, you can click the “Save Changes” button, and the desired Twitter Feed should appear on your Moodle site.

Tip: Remember to actually select the Twitter Feed as shown on the figure above, otherwise your feed won’t appear! You can view the result in action on our Moodle demo

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Moodle, Mahara and Mahoodle

Recently, we have launched our Moodle and Mahara demonstration sites. If you are interested in the open source e-learning platform and e-portfolio system, you should definitely take a look. With our demo logins you can not only explore Moodle and Mahara as stand-alone applications, but also explore a seamless integration (“Mahoodle”) between the two, where Moodle is acting as the master application and Mahara is the slave.

For the interface design, we adopted the latest responsive design methods for both applications, aiming to provide a clean and professional look, and the same time improve the viewing experience for mobile device users. To find out more or get the demo login details, you can visit the demos page.

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Knowledge Base:

If you are not familiar with the terms mentioned above, you can find a brief introduction below:

What is Moodle?

Moodle is an open source Learning Management System (LMS), also known as a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites.

What is Mahara?

Mahara is a fully featured open source electronic portfolio system with social networking features used to create online communities. In education, it is usually used to provide students/learners space to showcase their work and skills.

What is Mahoodle?

A Moolde and Mahara integration is officially called “Mahoodle”. Such an integration is usually used to create a comprehensive e-learning environment with a learning community.

There are two ways you can configure Moodle and Mahara to work together with a Single-Sign-On (SSO) solution.

1) Moodle as the master application (We use this method for our Mahoodle implementation)

Users will need to log into Moodle to access Mahara. Here Mahara is behaving as a Moodle plugin. (see screenshot)

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2) Mahara as the master application

Users will need to log into Mahara to access Moodle. Here Moodle is behaving as a Mahara plugin.

How To Add A Horizontal Navigation Menu in Moodle 3.x

Update:

We have released a new post to reflect the changes in Moodle 4.x:

How To Add A Responsive Custom Menu In Moodle 4.x

A horizontal navigation menu is an almost must-have element for all websites these days, and it has become a website design convention. Site navigation has a great impact in terms of user experience, hence it is essential to have this enabled for your Moodle site.

By default, Moodle doesn’t have the horizontal navigation menu (Custom Menu) enabled, so you need to follow the steps below to configure and enable it for your Moodle site.

Step 1

Log into your Moodle site as an admin user, and navigate to the Theme settings option: Settings > Site administration > Appearance > Themes > Theme settings

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Step 2

On the Theme settings page, you should find a form field called “Custom menu items” where you can enter your menu items following the instructions located right underneath the form field. Here we’re just going to paste in the example provided by the instructions for demonstration purposes.

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Step 3

Click the “Save changes” button, and now you should see a horizontal navigation bar with your chosen navigation items. You can view our Moodle theme demo site here to see the menu in action.

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Conclusion

Although the instructions provided by Moodle are informative and easy to understand, the real difficulty lies in finding the page location. Below is a list of the common Moodle page locations and you can just copy and paste the ones you want to add to the form.

Note: the example below assumes that your Moodle installation is in your server’s root folder

My Home | /my/
Courses | /course/index.php
My private files | /user/files.php
Calendar | /calendar/view.php
Course search | /course/search.php
View profile | /user/profile.php
Edit profile | /user/editadvanced.php
Change password | /login/change_password.php
Messaging | /message/
Blog | /blog/
Tags | /tag/
Notes | /notes/
Login | /login/
Forgotten password | /login/forgot_password.php

Want to add static pages (eg. Contact, About, FAQs) to your Moodle site? You can check out our tutorial here.

Embed YouTube videos into your Moodle 2.0 course

More and more teachers and trainers are using video clips to enhance their material these days. As YouTube has gained great popularity among educators, I’m going to show you how to embed YouTube videos into your Moodle course.

Step 1

First things first, before doing any work in Moodle, you need to go to YouTube and find the video you’d like to use. Here I’m going to use a Moodle presentation video, you can find the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvCIv5KCbeE

Step 2

On the video page, click the “Share” button

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Step 3

Now you should see something like the screenshot below, and you need to click the “Embed” button.

Step 4

After clicking the “Embed” button, a box with some HTML code will appear. Now, you need to highlight the code as shown in the screenshot and copy it (“Ctrl +C” on PC or “Cmd+C on Mac).

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Step 5

Let’s go back to Moodle now:
Log in and navigate to the desired course where you’d like to embed the video.

Step 6

Click the “Turn editing on” button.

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Step 7

Select the “Label” option from the “Add resources…” pull down menu.

Step 8

Now you are on the “Add a new label” page, and you should see a form field called “Label text”. Click the “HTML” button on the form editor menu.

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Step 9

A popup called “HTML Source Editor” should be triggered where you can paste in the code which you copied from YouTube in Step 4 above (“Ctrl+V” on PC or “Cmd+V” on Mac to paste). Then you need to click the ”Update” button to save the code.

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Step 10

After clicking the “Update” button the HTML Source Editor popup should be closed and you are back to the “Add a new label” page like shown below. Now you need to click the “Save and return to course” button.

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Step 11

There you go, a YouTube video is now embedded in the Moodle course. Remember to exit the editing mode by clicking the “Turn editing off” button; otherwise you might not see the video on the course page!

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How to install a new Moodle theme

We have finally finished our first free Moodle theme, you can go to the freebies page to download the zip file and feel free to use for your Moodle implementation. I thought it would make sense to write a quick post to guide you through the theme installation process. I hope you find this helpful.

Here I’m using our free theme Mandarin as an example in the tutorial. The following steps will guide you through the process of installing a new Theme for Moodle 2.0.x.

Step 1

Download our free Moodle theme Mandarin here.

Step 2

Unpack the theme zip file and extract the /mandarin/ folder and the files.

Step 3

Upload the /mandarin/folder to your hosting server’s Moodle theme directory. You can use an FTP program to do so.

install theme

Step 4

Log into your Moodle site as an admin, and navigate to the theme selector:

Settings >Site administration> Appearance > Themes > Theme selector

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Step 5

Click “use theme” next to the Mandarin theme to active

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Step 6

Click “continue” to confirm, and here you go now you can enjoy your new Moodle theme.

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