Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Emails from Moodle site marked as spam or not delivered to some domains

So you have cron working on your Moodle site but you have the annoying problem of emails from your site being marked as spam or not getting delivered at all to some email domains. For example, they might be delivered to a Gmail address (even if they're going to the spam folder) but not to an institutional email address.

If you see an email from your Moodle site marked as spam, download the email with full headers (in Gmail, you can do this through the “Show original” option) and check if there is a “fail” message next to SPF, DKIM or DMARC. This is a sign that something is wrong.

For example, if you see a “fail” or “softfail” message for SPF, the SPF DNS entry for your Moodle site may not be up-to-date. I encountered this problem recently after a Moodle site I administer was upgraded and it resulted in a change in the IP address as well as a transition from IPv4 to IPv6.

Google provides useful advice to deal with SPF, DKIM and DMARC.

It could also be that the IP address of your Moodle site has somehow been blacklisted. There are lots of email blacklists but only some of the blacklists influence email delivery to major providers such as Gmail and Yahoo.

None of the above - SPF, DKIM, DMARC, IP blacklisting - are Moodle-specific issues but they can affect your Moodle site, so you will need to consult a system administrator who has overall responsibility for the IT systems at your institution.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Moodling in 2018

Continuing in the series of my annual Moodling recaps (though this one has been delayed)...
  • What does "openness" mean in the context of an online course? At the most basic level, I would think it means open access to the course materials, that is, anyone can enrol in the course. What about reuse and adaptation? Can an online course be made available in its entirety - including source files of the resources and activities - and be ported to a different learning platform, where it can be freely adapted? And how about training people to make the most of the course as they embark on this embedding or localization? In 2018, I worked with my colleagues at INASP to address these aspects in relation to the popular AuthorAID online course in research writing. We developed and offered the AuthorAID Online Course Toolkit Programme to help experienced researchers in developing countries run the AuthorAID research writing course on their own, on their own Moodle-based learning platform. Hopefully we will be writing about our experience soon on the AuthorAID or INASP blog.
  • I implemented a new interface on the INASP Moodle site to help potential participants learn about our courses and enrol in them directly. Check it out:
  • With the emergence of GDPR, it was imperative for us to upgrade our Moodle site so it would be GDPR-compatible. I was involved in getting the site upgraded to version 3.5 and implementing the GDPR stuff. I'm yet to explore all the new features in 3.5 though!
  • And as usual I continued to be the technical administrator for online courses at INASP.
Compared to previous years I spent less time Moodling as a result of different work priorities. Let's see what 2019 holds!