Moodle Tips: Build your Moodle Course Quickly
Creating your Moodle course can be a timely affair so in this post I am going to focus on ways that you can speed up the process and at the same time make your courses consistent in terms of how Moodle content is displayed.
You may have to ask your site’s administrator to do this, but setting course defaults at a site level make it quicker to create multiple courses and to set course level behaviours.
In Site administration > Courses > Course default settings you can set most of the default settings in the course settings page. The following are examples of commonly changed default settings:
Changing the course format to Topics or Single activity format is common for short courses, for example, compliance courses for organisations or product summaries for retail companies. These courses often use a small number of sections, some just a single section, so it is often the case that this could be reduced from 10 to just 1 or 2.
If you do not use News forums in your Moodle courses, make the News item to show setting 0 as this suppresses their creation in new courses. Enabling Completion tracking allows you to immediately decide whether or not you use this feature when you create activities in your course – just because it is enabled doesn’t mean you have to use it!
Set activity defaults
Making sure that you use the same settings for all your activities, particularly if there is a site-wide policy in place, can be time consuming. For example, if it has been decided that all files are downloaded and not displayed in some other way, then this can be set in the activity default settings – in Site administration go to Plugins > Activity Modules > File and from the Default values for activity settings make the Display setting, Force download.
It is worth having a look at the settings for each of the activity types as there are hidden values that you may wish to use for your course content, for example, you might want to use pop-ups for Page resources occasionally or to change the Description from being required a field – our clients often mention this as an inconvenience when adding content.
Managing your course files
Creating your images before creating your actual activities is a quicker way of creating your Moodle content as it keeps you on the task at hand, but to upload a zip file and extract them in your Private files allows you to add them easily to activities and resources in all the courses where you have an editing role. Once you have finished creating your Moodle course, you can remove the My private files block.
Drag and drop has improved since its introduction so if you have Moodle 2.3 – 2.6, make sure you have Ajax enabled so you can use this functionality. For those who are on earlier versions, you can add the Drag and drop file upload block to your site.
If you have a file that you want to make available to learners, then you simply have to drag your file over the course page and drop it. This creates a File resource with the default settings (hopefully you will have changed this to how you want them ) and link text which will be the filename.
Of course, if you didn’t have the foresight to make the file name the same as the link text you wanted on the course page then you can always use another time-saving feature; edit the link text by clicking the pencil icon – press Enter when you have made the changes.
Using drag and drop for other files will have some different effects, for instance, dragging a SCORM package onto the course page will create a SCORM activity, a zip file containing files will create a folder resource and extract the files into that folder, and images will give you the option of either adding the image to a new label and showing it on the course page or making it available as a file resource. All these save you the time of having to create the activities/resources.
Using existing content
One great way of saving time is to duplicate activities you are using elsewhere, whether from the same Moodle course or a different one.
Duplicating activities in a course allows you to create another instance of that activity with all the same settings. One example of this could be a quiz that you are using for formative assessment in a course, i.e. as part of the learning process, and you wish to duplicate it so that it acts as a summative assessment at the end of a topic too. Note, in this example, you may want to change the questions or, if randomly selected, make sure you have enough questions in the question category for both quizzes and perhaps change the feedback options.
Creating duplicates is straight-forward as you may know; from the Edit setting dropdown on the course page, click Duplicate and a copy of the activity appears below the original.
Duplicating activities between courses can be achieved in a couple of ways; by importing the activity, or by backing it up in its current position and restoring it to another Moodle course.
Importing an activity starts by clicking Import in the Course administration section of the Administration block. Once you have chosen the course you want to take the activity from and selected exactly which activity you want to import, a duplicate of that activity will be created in your current course. You may have to move it as it will be in the same section it was in the original course.
Backing up activities can be done from inside an actual activity which certainly makes the content of the backup file easier to select if you just want a single item.
The backup process can also be used to save time and promote consistency across courses by creating a template course.
If you have a course that you wish to use as a template for other courses on your site, then you could create a backup of this course and restore for subsequent new courses. In your template, you might want to include departmental groups for your learners, each with its own group enrolment key for example, an HTML block with the contact information for support, or activities common to all courses (or at least most) like a glossary of key terminology.
If you are based in a school or college and you create new courses for all your classes/subjects at key times of the academic year, you could use the Upload courses functionality to create your different Moodle courses and select your template backup, or identify your template course, to be used for each new course. Such a time saver!
Adding certain items at a site level can, over time (and if you remember!), make some things easier and quicker for you. A couple of examples that spring to mind are RSS feeds and gradebook settings.
RSS feeds can be used to add additional related articles to a course. If these feeds are added at a site level by the administrator, then all the feeds should be available to every teacher in their courses, allowing them to reuse feeds and not have to search to find the URL each time they are to be added to an RSS block. It should be said though that by default, RSS feeds added by a teacher in one course, will be available to that same teacher in other courses but other teachers will not be able to access them.
Scales can be used to assess learners’ contributions in, for example forums. Creating scales at a site level (tick the Standard scale checkbox when creating the scale, permissions permitting) will mean that teachers can reuse existing scales – also nice for the learners to see consistency across courses.
We certainly hope that this has given you a few ideas for ways that you can speed up your course creation and to get more consistency between courses.
And if you are looking for a simple and powerful way to take advantage of the functionality shared above, take a look at our Virtual Classrooms Platform for schools and Personal Classrooms for teachers today!
This article originally appeared on howtomoodle.com, by Carl Hodkinson.
Create quick quizzes in Moodle with Word
Moodle quizzes can save you time. They grade themselves automatically and are available for students to complete outside of class time. Moodle quizzes can also be a helpful tool if you’re interested in flipped instruction or just-in-time teaching. Despite these benefits, quizzes are an underused feature in Moodle because they look intimidating and can be time-consuming to create. But if you have quiz questions in Microsoft Word format, you can easily turn those questions into a simple Moodle quiz. If you’ve never created a Moodle quiz, this can be an easy entry into online assessment. Read on to learn more about Moodle quizzes and how you can use your pre-existing questions to quickly create them.
Ideas for using Moodle quizzes:
Moodle can import questions using a variety of formats. The format we’re going to cover in this article is AIKEN. It is the easiest to create, and a great fit for simple quizzes. Learn more about other Moodle quiz formats on Moodle’s website.
This method of importing questions will only work if…
1 Questions are multiple choice or T/F
2 Questions are formatted in accordance with the guidelines below
How to import your questions into Moodle
Follow the tutorials below to prepare your Word file and create a quiz. The tutorials are from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
1 Format your quiz questions and import them into a Moodle question bank.
2 Add a quiz activity to your course and configure its settings.
3 Add the questions from your question bank to the quiz.
Are you ready to start importing those quizzes but your Moodle platform is outdated or you have no support to help you through it? fret no more and take a look at our Virtual Classrooms Platform for schools and Personal Classrooms for teachers today and get quizzing!
This article originally appeared on blogs.elon.edu, by Dan Reis.
Three ways digital badges are used in education
As schools progress to include online and on-campus courses and activities, digital badges are suited to meet the needs of emerging education models.
As children, our accomplishments were recognized with trophies, plaques, a pat on the back or cloth badges sewn on to a Girl Scout or Boy Scout sash.
In high school and college, we received diplomas and began to fill up resumes and LinkedIn profiles with job qualifications and experience. But what if there was a way to help acknowledge educational experiences that happen outside of the classroom and recognize valuable skills such as leadership or collaboration?
To address this need, the trend of digital badges is rapidly catching on. But what will be its impact and potential on education?
Digital badges have many applications, but most importantly, they associate people with the knowledge and skills they possess – the short definition is “a validated indicator of accomplishment.” In today’s always-on environment, smart phone apps such as Foursquare incorporate the concept of badges to encourage game competition and offer rewards. In the academic domain, the concept of awarding badges is taken straight from the realm of gaming into the professional world.
In its truest form, a digital badge is simply a graphic accompanied by a description awarded to someone who has demonstrated specific skills or knowledge. Much like cash, digital badges are portable and verifiable. By being instantly verifiable, digital badges have an advantage over college degrees, resumes and transcripts.
Digital technology is fast-paced and is already starting to replace the standard way of doing things, such as the process of tracking down and contacting the university issuing a diploma. In education, badges represent an accurate depiction of what a student actually knows rather than what their standardized-test score or report card says about them.
The concept of digital badges was boosted in 2012 when Mozilla Open Badges developed an open system for representing and displaying badges. From that point, the early and most active uses of digital badges have been with online courses. One step toward becoming mainstream that is already underway is their incorporation into learning management systems (LMS) like Blackboard Learn and Moodle.
How Are They Effective?
There are two main benefits to the concept of digital badges: motivation and certification.
Motivation comes from the use of gamification, the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. Gamification has been a popular new trend, especially in the corporate world to help increase employee engagement, and the use of games at work or at school has definitely resonated with millennials. The certification aspect of digital badges provides widely-accepted recognition to an individual’s development.
Education has been a leading adopter of digital badges to enhance student development and recognize learning. The classroom has evolved and by integrating digital technology, now provides a blended learning environment with increasing use of collaboration tools.
This new hybrid connected classroom has created a new model for educating students, but presents a challenge for motivating and recognizing student achievement. By developing innovative uses of digital badging, companies such as Blackboard and Pearson, along with universities such as Purdue and Quinnipiac, have overcome this challenge.
For example, last year Blackboard announced a partnership with Mozilla to support the use of digital badges to promote achievements in courses and within Blackboard Learn™. By utilizing Mozilla’s Open Badges Infrastructure, students can earn Open Badges to indicate the completion of a course or meeting learning milestones set by faculty. Within a course, students can also view and share earned badges and see how much progress they have made toward requirements for earning new ones.
The program provides incentives for students to learn and further engage both inside and outside of the classroom. Their initiative goes far beyond the traditional achievement process by assigning awards for extracurricular activities, philanthropy, study abroad and internships. In addition, students can display their badges in an Open Badge portfolio as well on networking profiles, social media sites and personal web pages.
What is the Potential of Digital Badges?
It is clear that digital badges have the potential to replace or enhance outdated, traditional ways of measuring and communicating students’ skills and knowledge. For example, resumes are often more about writing skills than professional abilities, interviews are an important skill but aren’t related to your job, pre-employment tests may not accurately reflect skills due to nervousness, and personal recommendations may reflect the selling skills of the recommender rather than the skills of the candidate.
In order to become mainstream in education, digital badges must first establish credibility and overcome the perception that they are only used for gaming and marketing. Over time, digital badges could replace certificates and diplomas. As schools progress to include a mix of online and on-campus courses and activities, digital badge systems are well-suited to evolve to meet the needs of emerging education models.
If you are curious and ready to start using badges, but your current provider falls short, take a look at our Virtual Classrooms Platform for schools and Personal Classrooms for teachers today and get your badge on!
This article originally appeared on eschoolnews.com, by Robert Nilsson.