Category Archives: Moodle

What’s New in Moodle 2 – Time Savers

Time is precious for everyone.  And when you can save a bit of it here or there, that’s a good thing!  I have found a couple of Moodle 2 features that will be time savers for our faculty and I share them in this linked video.

DCCC faculty:  Please remember that we will be moving from Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2.3 starting in Fall 2013.  In preparation for the move, I am offering training starting March 18th.  I have divided the training up into two days.

Day One:  New Course Interface and Course Files Structure
Day Two:  New Quiz and Assignment Features plus Joule Grader

To sign up for training, please fill out the web form at http://tiny.cc/moodle2train.

What’s New in Moodle 2 – Quiz Features

DCCC’s move to Moodle 2.3 in Fall 2013 will allow us to take advantage of some new features in the Quiz activity.  This post highlights one of those features.  Instructors at DCCC have students with accommodation plans that might allow the student to have different time constraints on a test.  Or, perhaps you are combining multiple sections of a course into one Moodle shell and need for the test to have different available dates for each section.  This was not easily achieved in earlier versions of Moodle.  Now, in Moodle 2.3, instructors can use the user overrides or group overrides option to create new settings on a test for either one individual or a subset of students.  The following video illustrates this.

The Move to Moodle 2

In Fall 2013 Davidson County Community College will be on the Moodle 2 platform.  Opportunities to participate in training will be held after Spring Break.  Until then, I would like to preview the new features that DCCC instructors can look forward to in a video series known as “What’s New in Moodle 2.”

Click on the following link to view the video.

End of Semester Moodle Course Tips

Online Testing for Final Exams
DCCC’s Moodle is set to time-out a user when there has been 4 hours of inactivity.  When creating your final exam, it is good practice to have Moodle display your test with a few questions per page, as opposed to unlimited questions.  This is good for two reasons:  One, when the student navigates to the next page, the page is refreshed and the computer counts that as activity.  Second, navigating to the next page also forces the computer to save the student’s work up until that point.  This can be beneficial if there are technical issues.  It increases the likelihood that the student’s work will be saved.

Exporting Your Gradebook
When closing out a course for a semester, there are some data that every instructor should be pulling from Moodle.  After your gradebook is complete, it is good practice for an instructor to export it for record keeping.  To do this, navigate to your Grades link and click on the Export tab.  For a more detailed look at how to do this, click on the following link titled: help document.

Saving Online Entry Assignment Data
Distance courses were required to include an online entry assignment to denote when the student “Entered” the course.  As an instructor, it is a best practice to keep the Moodle record that shows when the student submitted the designated assignment.  For a detailed look at how to do this, click on the following link titled:  help document.

Help with Moodle Gradebook
Now that the semester is coming to a close, the attention of faculty and students is focused on the gradebook.  You’ll want to make sure your Moodle gradebook is setup appropriately.  To see some examples of how to set up your gradebook, click on the following link titled:  help document.

Help with Moodle Gradebook

We are still continuing to learn more about the Moodle Gradebook and how it fits in with Starfish and the varying grading schemes used across the school.  Our department has been trying to help individuals on a case by case basis.  However, we have seen that most folks use one of three methods:  Weighted System, Points System without categories, or Points System with categories.

Scenario #1:  Weighted System.   

Tests = 25%
Projects = 20%
Discussions = 30%
Final Exam = 25%

Weighted Mean Example

Weighted Mean Example

Scenario #2:  Points System (No Categories)

Test #1 = 100 pts
Test #2 = 100 pts
Research Project = 80 pts
Final Project = 80 pts
Discussion #1 = 60 pts
Discussion #2 = 60 pts
Discussion #3 = 60 pts
Discussion #4 = 60 pts
Final Exam = 200 pts
Total Points = 800 pts

Points System (No Categories)

Points System (No Categories)

Scenario #3:  Points System (With Categories)

Test #1 = 100 pts
Test #2 = 100 pts
Research Project = 80 pts
Final Project = 80 pts
Discussion #1 = 60 pts
Discussion #2 = 60 pts
Discussion #3 = 60 pts
Discussion #4 = 60 pts
Final Exam = 200 pts

Points System (With Categories)

Points System (With Categories)

This is by far not the only way to set up your gradebook.  You are certainly free to do what is needed to match your grading scheme.  The only method that is not allowed is the Sum of Grades method.  This method is problematic for Starfish as it always treats empty grades as zeros and those assignments count against the student.  If you would like for someone in the Office of Distance Learning and Instructional Technology to review your gradebook, do not hesitate to contact us.

Not Including Dropped Students in Course Emails

Several instructors have asked me how to email their class but not include inactive students.  The inactive student role was one that DCCC created by copying the student role but changing a few settings so that students cannot access the course and they are not seen in the gradebook.  This role is what instructors should change their students to when they drop a course.  There are two ways that you can email your whole class, through the Course Announcements forum (we have renamed our News forum) and the QuickMail block (part of our school’s template).

The Course Announcements forum can be used as a way to send mass emails.  However, it all depends on the subscription setting on the forum.  If you have forced your students to be subscribed, then all active students (not inactive) and instructors in the course will receive an email of the forum post.  If you have not forced your students to subscribe and you would like to, you just need to update your forum.

Course Announcements Forum

Update a forum to force subscription

The QuickMail block can also be used to email the whole class.  There is a trick to making sure that you do not include the students who have been changed to the inactive student role because they do appear in the list of users in your course within the QuickMail block.  After you click on Compose an email within the block, you will be taken to a screen to create your email.  Click on the Students Only option under Role Filter.  Then, if you do not have any groups, click on the Not in a Section option under Potential Section.  This should highlight all active students in the course.  You can then click on the Add button to send them to the Recipients list (see pictured below).

QuickMail Block

Emailing all students except inactive students

If you are using Groups, then you will follow the same steps as above but when you get to the Potential Section area, you’ll want to hold down your Control button as you select all the groups that you would like to send the message to (see pictured below).

QuickMail

Emailing all students except inactive ones when you use groups

Click on the following link for a help document on how to execute the steps described above.

Delete Test Attempts in Moodle

Now that we have more and more online testing through Moodle, it appears that instructors are running into the scenario where they need to clear out a student’s attempt on a quiz or test.  This is a fairly easy process to do.  The first thing you need to do is click on the quiz itself.  You do not need to have editing turned on.  Once you click into the quiz, you’ll need to navigate to the bank of attempts.  This can be done by clicking the word “Attempts,” which is a live link, or you can go to the Results tab across the top.

Getting to the Attempts

Once there, click on the check box next to the name of the student’s attempt.  Then, scroll down and click on Delete Selected Attempts.

Delete Selected Attempts

Removing Unused Topics/Weeks

After working in Moodle now for several semesters, there is this one thing I see over and over again with instructors that leads me to believe they either don’t know they can change this or they don’t know how.

Your course design is either based on Topics or Weeks.  Each course may need a different number of topics or weeks.  When a new course is generated at DCCC, we automatically generate 16 weeks for a normal 16 week semester.  This, however, is not something that is set in stone.  It is our hope that an instructor would map out their own course design and then choose the appropriate number of topics or weeks that they need.  However, what we see is that instructors start populating the topics or weeks and just leave the ones they don’t use out there.

One may ask why this is problematic?  I think this can be confusing to the students.  If I saw several empty weeks in my moodle course, I might start to wonder if there will be additional content or work that my instructor has not yet posted.  I also think that it takes away from the consistency of the design of your course.  If you aren’t using it, it’s not serving a purpose and needs to be removed.

So, how do we fix this?  Good news:  it is a fairly simple process!  Here is an example of a course that has extra unused Topics.

Example of Extra Topics

Example of Extra Topics

To change the display of the number of topics, you simply need to access the Settings link within your Administration block.  Once you are there, find the option that says Number of Weeks/Topics.  Choose the appropriate number from the drop down menu.  Save your work and all is fixed!

Adjusting Number of Weeks or Topics

Adjusting Number of Weeks or Topics

Copying and Pasting into Moodle

A warning about copying and pasting into Moodle:

I am certainly a fan of not recreating the wheel, as they say, and working more efficiently when you can.  However, when you are copying and pasting something into Moodle, there are a few things to be aware of.

Text
When you highlight text and choose to copy, often times you are copying more than the eye can see.  Copying and pasting can carry over some unwanted coding that can have the potential to cause havoc in Moodle.

If you copy and paste text from a website, then you should always paste this text into a Notepad file to strip the text of any additional HTML coding it might have.  Keep in mind that to the naked eye, it may appear to be doing absolutely nothing. However, it is getting rid of problematic stuff.  Then, highlight and copy the text from Notepad and paste it into Moodle and format it from there.

If you are copying and pasting text from one Moodle resource/activity to another, it is important to copy from the edit page (see the image below).

Do Not Copy From Here

Do Not Copy From Here

Do Copy From Here

Do Copy From Here

If you copy and paste text from a Word document, you can use the clean word HTML option within the WYSIWYG editor (see the image below).  Simply highlight your text and click on the clean word HTML icon to get rid of the extra HTML coding.

Clean Word HTML

Clean Word HTML icon

Images
You should NEVER copy and paste an image into Moodle.  The result will be that the image appears to be properly loaded when in fact, it will only show up for you and no other user.  All images must be saved as an image file and then uploaded using the Insert Image icon within the WYSIWYG editor.  For additional help with uploading images, see the following help document link.  http://www.davidsonccc.edu/pdfs/Moodle_Images.pdf

Finally, if you happen to forget about these helpful hints, you could find yourself with a topic summary, label, or webpage that is seemingly “locked” because you can’t click on the edit icon.  To undo this, I have found the following clickable helpful from MoodleRooms.  http://clickables.moodlerooms.com/s/steps/m/joule/l/59835-how-to-edit-a-course-section-summary-which-has-become-corrupted-by-content-pasted-from-microsoft-word.

If you have run across any issues similar to this, please share through a comment.  Thanks!

New My Courses Block

It has always been an inconvenience for instructors to have to go to two different places to access their Moodle courses.  They could go to their My DCCC Courses block to access “live” courses.  However, they would have to go to My Dashboard or their profile to access courses that are not available to students.  This could include past or future courses.  We have now found a solution whose settings will allow for both of these types of courses to be accessible to instructors or supervisors in one block.

We have replaced the My DCCC Courses block with a block called My Courses.  It will look very similar to the old one.  There are a few differences though.  See the new block pictured below.

My Courses Block

You must click on the small plus sign to the left of the folders to see the courses inside the folder.

My Courses Block

Then you can click on the actual name of the course to enter the course. This is much like the old block.

With this block, users should not have to go to their My Dashboard to access any of their courses.  We know that the My Dashboard page can take a while to load, especially for those who are listed in a lot of courses.  Keep in mind that the My Dashboard link will not go away.  If you prefer to use this, you will still have access to it.