This interview discusses the history, governance and future of Moodle, our favorite learning management system. Especially interesting are Martin’s comments about the improvements in Moodle 2.0, and the future of personal education as it impacts thinking about Moodle 3.0 (or Moodle-X).
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.
The TLTC and Library are hosting several workshops this week before the start of classes, to help you with final preparations for the new term.
Rebecca Oling will offer a session on Integrating Library Resources into your classes. This session will be held in Library 1004D on Thursday, 26 August, from 10:30 to 12:00.
- WHO: All teaching faculty
- WHAT: Open Library Studio Time (you can drop in and get the help you need to ensure that your students have the maximum support and you have the minimum of stress!)
- WHERE: 1004D in the Library
- WHY: Maybe you need help finding an article in our databases or just linking to one. Perhaps you would like to explore the myriad e-reference works (or physical ones) we can offer. Maybe you’d like to integrate multimedia resources in a way that doesn’t eat up a lot of class face-to-face time. Whatever the need, we are here to help you.
- WHEN: This time is for you! From 10:30-12 on Thursday August 26th
Marie Sciangula will offer 4 sessions on Getting Started with Moodle / Moodle Studio. Although called “getting started” these sessions aren’t just for people who have never used Moodle before. If you’d like a refresher on how to set up resources and activities for your Moodle courses, want to pick up some ideas about new things you can do with Moodle, or would just like to get some help/advice on setting up your courses for this semester, we’d love to have you attend. There will be morning (9:30 to 12:00) and afternoon (1:00 to 3:30) sessions both Thursday, 26 August and Friday, 27 August, all scheduled for L1004C (the middle computer lab on the main floor of the Library). Specific topics covered will depend on the interests of the workshop participants.
I will offer 3 sessions of Moodle Gradebook. The sessions will cover some common approaches to using the gradebook to provide feedback to your students. If you’ve never used the gradebook before and would like to see how it works, or if you’d like to get feedback on how you’ve set up the gradebook in your Moodle classes this fall, please stop in.
If you know you’d like to attend any of these sessions, please email TLTC@purchase.edu to let us know that you’re coming. But if you find you have a chance to drop in at the last minute, that’s OK too. We’d like to be busy in these workshops.
Enrolling Students and Managing Your Moodle Course Participants List
To enroll/manage/remove participants (students, other faculty members, learning assistants, etc.) into and from your Moodle courses:
- click on the ‘Assign Roles’ link within the course’s Administration block
- click on the link for the role that you’d like to manage (i.e. student, non-editing teacher, librarian, learning assistant, etc.)
- search by last name for whomever you’d like to add in the list of potential users and then select the name and click on the “<–Add” arrow to move the user into the course participants list at the left
- If you click the check box above the Add button (with the eye next to it, it you’re using the default Moodle theme), then people will be added to your course as a ‘hidden assignment’ – students will not see anyone with a hidden assignment when they look in the class participants list, which may cut down on any confusion on their part.
- To unenroll/remove users from your course, select the name(s) under the “existing users” column on the left and click the “Remove –>” arrow between the two columns to remove/unenroll them from your course. They will be brought back into the “potential users” pool in the right column.
We did a minor upgrade to Moodle over the holiday break and changed some other configuration settings:
• The Gradebook has changes to some of its views that make it more obvious how grade items are organized into categories, and that also make it easier to set up weights for weighted means of grades. If you use the Moodle Gradebook, be sure to check out the changes. I’ll be developing some new online tutorial materials for the Gradebook and other Moodle functions soon.
• With the upgrade, you can now run a report to see which of your students haven’t accessed a specific resource or activity in your course Moodle, and if you want send them a message about it.
• Moodle pages (other than the secure login) are now displayed as regular web pages, which means you can now embed content from external sites such as YouTube without triggering security warnings from Internet Explorer and some other browsers.
• Other changes are mostly behind the scenes improvements.
I’ve scheduled a series of Moodle help/consultation sessions for the first week of the semester:
- Wed, Jan 20, 11:30-12:20 (before the School/Conservatory meetings)
- Thurs, Jan 21, 12:30-1:20
- Fri, Jan 22, 11:30-12:30
- Mon, Jan 25, 12:30-1:20
All sessions will be held in the Library 1004C computer lab. Feel free to drop in if you want help setting up any aspect of your course moodles, if you want help setting up your new gradebooks, or if you’d like to see how some of the new features we added last semester work:
• Book resource, which allows you to set up multi-page documents in your course Moodle
• Attendance activity and block, which provide a way for you to record attendance information into your course Moodle and present that information to each of your students
• Outcomes, which allow you to record student performance on course learning objectives within the Gradebook for your course Moodle
Also over the break, we moved Moodle to a new web server. Since the migration, we’ve been seeing sporadic internal server error messages (mostly 500 Internal Server Error messages at this point), which we are working on. If you do get a 500 Error message, try waiting a half-minute or so and reloading the page. But also send me an email about what your were trying to do when you got the error message and when, so we can better track down what the issue is. Thanks.
Moodle: Over the past month (Nov 8 through Dec 8, which includes Thanksgiving week), there were 36,057 unique visits to and 222,760 pages viewed on our Moodle system.
We are planning only a few changes to Moodle over break – adding more processor capacity on the Moodle server to speed up Moodle services, a minor upgrade from Moodle 1.9.3 to Moodle 1.9.7, and probably a change in the login procedure to support incorporation of external resources such as YouTube videos into our Moodle courses. Over the summer we will determine when we will upgrade to Moodle 2.0, which will bring in significant new functions to our courses, and will integrate our Moodle system with the new Mahara ePortfolio and networking application (see below).
Blackboard: Spring semester will be the last semester that Blackboard will be supported. Since there are a lot of old, unused courses on the Blackboard server, the TLTC will not automatically migrate all existing Blackboard courses over to Moodle. Please send an email to TLTC@purchase.edu listing any specific Blackboard course(s) that you would like migrated to Moodle. We will schedule another round of Moodle workshops before and at the start of next semester, to support faculty migration from Blackboard to Moodle. If you would like to schedule an individual consultation on course design, teaching & learning, or Moodle migration issues, please email email@example.com.
Mahara: CTS has recently implemented Mahara, an open-source ePortfolio and social networking application that many colleges use in conjunction with Moodle. Mahara allows students, faculty and staff to assemble collections of files, postings and other materials that can then be presented publicly or privately through an online ePortfolio interface. I am looking for faculty who are interested in piloting the use of Mahara for course-related student portfolios. If you have your students submit portfolios of work for your courses and would like to participate in this pilot looking at how Mahara can facilitate the use of portfolios in your courses, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, so that I can arrange an orientation to Mahara for you and plan support for your class use of Mahara (such as student training sessions, planning for portfolio submissions, etc). Thanks.
teaching, learning, and technology center
Next week we will start a new round of Moodle workshops, to assist faculty to get ready for spring semester classes. There will be several offerings of the basic getting started with Moodle sessions, and other workshops on more advanced Moodle topics:
• Oct 28 (Wed), 3:30-4:30, Library 1004C: Moodle gradebook
• Oct 29 (Thurs), 12:30-1:30, Library 1004C: supporting group work and student collaboration in Moodle
• Oct 30 (Fri), 12:30-1:30, Library 1004C: getting started with Moodle
• Nov 2 (Mon), 12:30-1:30, Library 1004C: what’s new in Moodle (activities and resources that we’ve added to our Moodle system, and a preview of Moodle 2.0!)
• Nov 3 (Tues), 3:30-4:30, Library 1004C: using Moodle to support outcomes assessment
• Nov 5 (Thurs), 12:30-1:30, Library 1004C: getting started with Moodle
• Nov 9 (Mon), 12:30-1:30, Library 1004C: getting started with Moodle
• Nov 10 (Tues), 3:30-4:30, Library 1004C: using Moodle to teach writing as a process
• Nov 12 (Thurs), 12:30-1:30, Library 1004C: effective online discussions in Moodle
Workshop attendees receive a lunch voucher courtesy of UUP; we appreciate their support for professional development programming on campus.
Keith Landa, Director
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Center
The TLTC is hosting a series of weekly conversations on the use of technology (Moodle and other tools) to support Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. These conversations will take place Thursday afternoons, from 3:30 to 4:30, in the TLTC conference room. We are located in the lower level of the Library, across from the Media Resources Center.
Chickering and Gamson’s second principle is that good practice develops reciprocity and cooperation among students. Learning is less effective when it is undertaken in isolation. Working with others can foster student engagement, provides a framework that allows students to share their ideas & sharpen their thinking in response to peer feedback, involves the students in the social construction of understanding, and more and more models the types of working environments our students will encounter once they leave Purchase.
This week’s conversation will look at Moodle support for cooperative work: tools for setting up and managing groups, as well as a couple of specific activities where students collaborate to produce scholarly work – the Moodle Wiki and Database activities.
I received the following question from a faculty member: My students tell me that there is a way for them to post their assignments on Moodle as an alternative to emailing them to me. How is that accomplished? It would be much more efficient.
What you want to use is an Assignment activity, specifically the ‘Upload a single file’ assignment type.
- Go to the ‘Add an activity…’ pull-down menu in whichever weekly/topics section of your Moodle course is most appropriate; select ‘Upload a single file’ from under the Assignments activity group.
- Enter information into the Name and Description fields to define the assignment; you can paste in a copy of the directions you’ve provided to your students about the assignment.
- You can specify the maximum points for the assignment, which would allow you to report scores on the assignment back to students through Moodle, or set the Grade setting to ‘No grade’
- You can set the due dates and when the assignment becomes available to students using the date and time menus. Time is in 24 hour format, so 5pm would be 17:00. The default is to allow late submissions, which is a good choice. All submissions will have a date and time stamp so you know when they came in. Late submissions will have a red date/time stamp and will tell you how late they were. If you disallow late submissions, students would have to make arrangements to turn in the assignments to you outside of Moodle, if you are willing to accept them.
- You should set the maximum size to a value large enough for the files you expect students to turn in. The default is 5 MB, which should be sufficiently large for the typical paper assignment.
- The default is not to allow students to resubmit files. Students sometimes upload the wrong file though and then you have to deal with how to have them turn in the right file. If you set file resubmission to yes, then students can upload a second file to replace the first file they uploaded.
Once the assignment is set up and open, students will see a button for selecting their file (they can browse to find it on their computer) and a button to upload the file. Once the file is uploaded, they will get a message that the file was uploaded successfully and see a link to the file that they uploaded. So there should be no confusion as to whether or not their file has been turned in (which was sometimes the case with Blackboard).
When you view the assignment as course instructor, you will see a link in the upper right corner of the assignment description that reads ‘View [x] submitted assignments’. Or if you click on the Assignments link in your course Activities block on the course front page, you will see all of the course assignments, including a link to view the submitted assignments for any assignment activity. Clicking on either link to view the submitted assignments will take you to the ‘back end’ for that assignment. You’ll see a list of your students. Papers submitted by each student will be available as a link to the file under the ‘Last modified (Student)’ column. Click on the file link to view the paper for a given student. There will be a Grade link for each student under the status column, which will give you access to a detailed screen for providing overall comments on the student’s assignment and to assign a grade. Once you’ve save comments and/or a grade for a given student, that link will change from Grade to Update. If you turn Quick Grading on by selecting the ‘Allow quick grading’ checkbox at the lower right of your assignment grading screen, you’ll see a simple comment box and grade pulldown menu for each student in your list. You can enter comments and grades for multiple students then, just be sure to click the ‘Save all my feedback’ button before you leave the backend page for your assignment.