Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

Moodle music video is out

November 19th, 2010 2 comments

Check it out:


Categories: Applications, Tools Tags:

Removing permission for students to start new questions in Moodle Q&A forums

September 28th, 2010 Comments off

The Q&A forum type in Moodle is a good option for reading reflections or other activities where you want students to individually demonstrate their understanding of some material but also follow that up with class discussion.  Topic threads within a Q&A forum are set up as separate questions.  Anyone in the class can respond to any or all of the questions, but what makes this forum type unique is that students can’t see what other students have posted for answers to a question UNTIL they have posted their answer to the question.  That way, everyone has a clean slate for each of the questions, and their answers aren’t influenced by what other students have posted to the questions.  Each student has to ‘pay to play’; when they provide their answer it allows them into the conversation.

Unfortunately, the default setup for the Q&A forum is for anyone in the class to be able to start new discussion threads, including students.  I often work with faculty on Q&A forums where a student in their class will read question #1, for example, and instead of posting their answer as a follow-up to the question, will post it as a new topic thread.  This has two problems.  Since the student still hasn’t posted an answer to question #1 (by replying to that topic), Moodle doesn’t know to allow them to review other students’ answers to question #1 and allow them to reply.  Also, since their answer to question #1 is posted as a new topic, all students can view that answer before they have posted an answer to question #1.  A more reasonable configuration for Q&A forums would be to not allow students to start new topic threads.  You can do that by setting up a permission override for the Q&A forum where you want to prevent students from starting new topics.

Here are the steps:

  • When you are editing the settings for the Q&A forum, either during the initial setup or later updates, click on the ‘Override permissions’ tab instead of the default ‘Settings’ tab.
  • Click on the ‘Student’ role.
  • Find the ‘Start new discussions’ permission.
  • The default permission for students is ‘Allow’; click on the ‘Prevent’ radio button (third one from the left).
  • Click the ‘Save changes’ button.

You will see on the Override permissions page for that forum that the Student role now has one override.

Invitation to a Webinar: Making Better Word Documents

July 29th, 2010 Comments off

Dear Colleagues,

The SUNY Center for Professional Development invites you to attend:

Title: Making Better Word 2007 (2003) Documents

Date/Time: Thursday, August 19th – 10:00 – 11:30 am

Cost: FREE

Topic: Learn how using styles can make your Word documents look more professional, and be more searchable and accessible on the web. Using structure in your text creates better documents. Images and lists provide structure and make it easier to convert your Word documents into accessible PDF’s. This session for Microsoft Word users will demonstrate some easy techniques to make your documents better. Both Word 2003 and Word 2007 will be covered in this webinar.

Presenter: Cathy Kittle, Publications and Internet Director at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Audience: This webinar is for content providers or anyone who creates Word documents that are ultimately used on the web, particularly as PDFs. The presentation contains very useful and easy-to-follow tips guaranteed to make your life and the life of those visiting your website easier.

Mode of Delivery: Elluminate web conferencing. Visit the Elluminate “First Time User’s” page for more information. Watch individually or as a group. A personal computer and speakers are the only requirements. Text chat will be available for questions. This webinar will be recorded.

Questions: Contact Judy Marshall at the SUNY CPD at 315-233-3052 x-112.


SUNY Center for Professional Development

Categories: Applications, Tools, webinar, Workshops Tags:

Course book creation project – wiki or Google Docs?

April 21st, 2010 Comments off

I recently received an email from a faculty member who wanted his students to collaborate online to essentially write a text on the course topic, and he asked whether to use a wiki or Google Docs.  So I replied:

A wiki would be a good choice to support collaborative writing, and you would have a number of options for which wiki to use: the Wiki activity in Moodle, the campus Confluence wiki, or a third party wiki such as PBWorks:

Advantages for Moodle: no need for students to go to a site separate from the other course materials, one stop shopping, no need to deal with sign-in issues.  You can set up a discussion forum activity for students to talk about the project, and the wiki for them to do it.  Limitations: it’s not the most powerful wiki engine, and it would be another step at the end for the project to be exported to an accessible location.

The Confluence wiki on campus has better editing features, and pages that students are working on can also include separate comments for discussing the work and planning changes.  No sign in issues as it uses the Purchase College login.  The campus Confluence wiki is not accessible to outside parties though.

Outside systems such as PBWorks: you and your students would need to deal with a separate login, and it wouldn’t be tied in with other resources and activities you are using in your Moodle course.  It would be a more robust wiki system however, and sharing the final product with the world would be easy.

For any of the wiki options, I’m guessing you would set up the different chapters as distinct pages in the wiki project, and have a front page with table of contents that links to the different chapters.  Both Moodle and Confluence would allow you to export the site in one format or another.  I’m sure something like PBWorks would allow that as well.

If you went the Google Docs route, you’d have to deal with making sure students are set up with Google accounts so that the developing docs can be shared with all of the students.  You’d probably set up each chapter as a separate doc, and you would have the option to choose which students have editing rights on the different chapter docs and which have just view access.  You could share the set of docs with everyone, once the project is done.  You’d also be able to export each doc as a Word or PDF file, if that’s the end point you’re looking for.  You could then combine all of the chapter .doc or .pdf files to create your overall book.

If this is going to be a major project for your online course, you’ll also want to be able to see what contributions each student is making.  All the wiki tools and Google Docs saves a version history, which you can use to see who’s updating the documents and what they are adding (or substracting).  I don’t know that any of them have an option for reviewing all of the changes made by a specific collaborator, so you might be stuck with having to review each document version, to see how substantial each individual contribution by a student is.

Too many options maybe….

Let me know what direction you think best fits your project idea.


Categories: Pedagogy, Tools Tags: , ,

Reserves Network Share

January 22nd, 2010 Comments off

All faculty members now have access to the Reserves Network Share (where we save all content scanned by the Library). Here, you can browse your own materials as well as other faculty members’ scanned files.

The Reserves Network Share is now available to all faculty on and off-campus:

If you are using Internet Explorer:
Your username is: your Purchase College email address
Your password is your Purchase College email password

If you are using Firefox:
Your username is: firstname.lastname (do not include
Your password is your Purchase College email password

Directions for making Reserves Network Share content available to your students through Moodle.

Fall 2009 Moodle Kickoff workshop series

August 12th, 2009 Comments off

Last year the faculty task force reviewing learning management systems (Moodle, Blackboard) decided to incorporate electronic reserves functions into the learning management system, to provide greater faculty control and a unified approach to online resources.  A notice on changes to electronic reserves went out in April ( available at ).  The main points were:
- ERes will not be renewed for the fall semester, since a stand-alone electronic reserves system is no longer necessary.
- Priority for electronic reserves will be given to the use of electronic resources available through our campus licensing of full-text databases and journals, in order to meet copyright, accessibility and reporting standards.
- The scanning that is still done will need to conform to copyright law and fair-use guidelines.

I’m happy to report that all of the past ERes materials used by courses that will be offered this fall have been migrated over to corresponding Moodle courses, due to the hard work of Marie Sciangula and other TLTC staff.  For each course, the transferred ERes files are set up in an electronic reserves folder in the Files area of course.  We are in the process of setting up a ‘display a directory’ resource in each of the Moodle courses that will not only provide students access to the ERes files, but also be able to list links to each full-text database/journal article requested for the course and link to a listing of the physical reserves items for the course.  You’ll be able to use the files and articles links throughout your course, however you wish.  Here are some directions for working with files in your Moodle course:

To assist faculty who will be using Moodle for electronic reserves for the first time or faculty who are ready to switch from Blackboard to Moodle, we are planning an extensive set of Moodle workshops for the last week of August and the first two weeks of the semester.  Most of these sessions will be hands-on workshops helping faculty get their Moodle courses set up the way they want and showing how to effectively use files and other resources in their Moodle courses.  There will be a handful of sessions that will provide specific help in setting up the gradebook in your Moodle courses, and a handful of sessions that will demonstrate the learning activities available for use in your Moodle courses.  More details about the workshops and an online workshop sign-up form are being set up at:

Categories: Tools, Workshops Tags:

Advice on the instructional uses of wikis

July 21st, 2009 Comments off

I was copied on this advice from one of our faculty members, David Seabrook, to another faculty member developing a hybrid course, on how to use wikis in class.  I thought it was good advice, so I asked permission to copy it here.

There are some real challenges to using a wiki: 1) students have to learn to use it; 2) students have to learn to collaborate with it. 1) may present some problems initially, because some students may complain “this is an anthropology class, not a computer class”. I had some of that in my class, even though I clearly explained that the class required the development of new computer skills. 2) will present challenges as the class progresses.

Here are some suggestions:

1) It is important that you understand how to use the tool well, as students will have many questions and will quickly get frustrated if they don’t get fast help. It’s amazing how computer-savvy young people can still feel challenged when they start to use a wiki. Create a multi-page wiki yourself – one that resembles the end product you want your students to produce. Include formatting, as students do care about the appearance of what they produce. Your wiki should include a way to navigate across multiple pages. Provide a link to it so students can look at it and learn from it.

2) Assign part of your first class to training people how to use the wiki tool. Also explain how people might collaborate e.g. assign one page of the wiki to each person, appoint a team leader, set interim deliverable deadlines, present work in progress to the class. I have had problems with some students doing the bulk of the work and complaining that others are not pulling their weight. Be sure to explain the assessment for the wiki so they understand that they cannot “cost along” on the efforts of others. I suggest you have a couple of “progress check points” so students have interim deadlines. I assign graded wiki-related homework assignments.

3) Set expectations with the class early. They should understand that they will need to practice the new tool.

Here’s some examples of student wikis:, and Here’s the wiki I created for my class:

Categories: Tools Tags:

Downloading YouTube videos

July 2nd, 2009 Comments off

Recent question from a faculty member: “How can I download videos from YouTube for use in iMovie projects?”

Downloading YouTube videos is a moving target.  I’ve adopted a couple of different tools in the past for doing the downloads, only to have them not work later because YouTube has changed something (presumably to make it more difficult to download) and the tools don’t work anymore.

I generally prefer web-based tools for YouTube downloads.  Mashable, which is a reliable site, has a list of current sites that allow you to download videos from YouTube:

You’ll need to download the Flash video files, and then convert them to a format for using in iMovie.  The mashable page lists sites for file conversion as well as sites for downloading the YouTube video.



BYW, here’s another tool for making use of YouTube videos: TubeChop (  It allows you to set in and out points on YouTube videos, so that you can link to or embed specific portions of YouTube clips.

Online tool for converting PDFs to Word documents

March 7th, 2009 Comments off

Here is an online site that will allow you to convert PDFs to Word documents (or to text files, image files or HTML):

Operation of the site is very straightforward – you browse to find the PDF on your computer that you want converted, click the convert button, the file is processed by their servers, and you’re provided a link to download the file from.

The main concern I have about this site is that there is no privacy or data use statement evident on the site.  The files you convert through this service are uploaded to their servers.  Presumably they have some business model planned that will make their service profitable; it could include data mining from among the context that people are uploading (giving) to them, and could possibly be tied to identifying information about users’ web addresses.

Categories: Tools Tags: , ,

Purchase2010 blog access

February 25th, 2009 Comments off

To access the Purchase2010 blog:

  1. Create an account at, using your Purchase email and whatever username and password that you would like.
  2. Email me ( that you’ve created your account.  I will check with Elise and add you as a member of the blog.
  3. Log in at using the username and password that you set up for your account
Categories: Tools Tags: