Tag: moodle assignments

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Moodle 2.0: Completion Status for Resources and Activities

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A checkmark in the box indicates complete!In my previous post on availability settings for Moodle resources and activities, I stated that one of the triggers of availability is the completion status of another.  Not only is completion status one of the conditions for availability of additional material, but it provides an excellent way to engage students, track their progress, and allow them to keep on a project schedule.  

For small businesses offering Moodle courses in any topic, for any reason, this new functionality is huge.  In at least half of the conversations I have with potential clients, there is a functional requirement to be able to mark items as complete, track completed items, and/or limit access to material based on the completion of other material.  In previous versions of Moodle, this was possible, but not practical for a small organization with limited resources (time to do it manually or money to custom code it). 

This post addresses how to determine completion status; to learn about how both student and teacher can monitor that status, stay tuned.

So, what defines “complete” in Moodle 2.0? 

In all cases, it is possible to choose from “don’t mark as complete”, “the student may mark as complete manually”, or “conditions must be met”.  The conditional settings vary for each activity, because not all settings make sense for everything. My suggestion is to create your content first, then go back and add conditions where it makes sense; don’t do it just to do it.

For non-graded activities such as Web Pages, Wikis, and Chats, there is on option for conditions:

  • Student must view to be marked complete (or not)

For Quizzes and Assignments, completion options are:

  • Student must view to be marked complete (or not)
  • Student must get a grade (or not).  This grade will be determined by other settings which haven’t changed from 1.9.  To learn more about the other settings in Quizzes and Assignments, and how to best use them in business training, follow the links to applicable posts by clicking here.

For Glossaries, the completion options are:

  • Student must view to be marked complete (or not)
  • Student must get a grade (or not)
  • Student must create (enter #) entries*

Forums have the most options for determining completion status:

  • Student must view to be marked complete (or not)
  • Student must get a grade (or not)
  • Student must post (enter #) discussions*
  • Student must create (enter #) discussions*
  • Student must reply to (enter #) discussions*

When choosing to mark an activity as complete when it has been viewed, do so with caution.  For longer courses and for students who are genuinely interested in learning the material, viewed is a great bookmark for where the student left off during the last visit. 

However, I think it is folly to believe that if you require students to view every page, you are guaranteeing that learning has taken place.  It isn’t too hard to hit “next” without comprehending, reading, or even looking at the monitor!  If you really want to ensure competency, use well-written quizzes and assignments and require participation in collaborative activities.

*For ideas on how to engage students by requiring participation in forums, glossaries, and other collaborative activities, read “Jazzing Up Your Moodle Courses with Collaborative Features“.

I’d like to thank the creators of the Mt. Orange School demo site for providing a place for me to learn about these features; if you’d like to play around with Moodle 2.0 yourself, check it out!

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Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Moodle Assignments – Which one should I use?

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There are four assignment types that come with a standard Moodle installation.  They appear very much the same to the student, but they have very different applications, especially for business training.  Knowing which one to use for your needs is important before you begin building your content, because assignment types can not be switched with the click of a mouse.  Each is its own entity; if you want to change type, you’ll have to completely redo the activity

The four types are:

  • Online Text
  • Offline assignment
  • Upload a single file
  • Advanced uploading of files

In order to determine which assignment type you want to use, you must first ask yourself what you want to achieve with this activity and how much of yourself you want to give to it.  It wouldn’t hurt to start with Purpose-Objectives-Goals for the course; this will help you determine your objective for each activity.

Online Text

This is great for short answers when you don’t care to save a copy of the file on your local drive.  It allows the student to enter an answer, using just about any type of computer (because the text is typed directly into the browser, not using any type of software like Word®).  As the instructor, you can grade and comment on this text, or you can simply use it to gather comments and ideas from your students.

Offline Assignment

I use this type frequently for my business courses.  Although grading is still an option with this assignment type, the uploading of files is not.  My rationale for using the Offline type in asynchronous, non-coached courses is that when a student does upload a file, he expects someone to read it!  If the instructor wants only to tell the student “this is an exercise to reinforce your understanding”, grading isn’t necessary.  Unless you (the instructor) are prepared to review and comment on submissions, I would stick with this type. 

One suggestion is to use the offline assignment type for your basic level courses; consider using the next two for your “premium” courses where fees include some personal coaching from you.

Upload a Single File

This assignment type performs up to its name.  Students submit their assignments as one file, in any format requested by the instructor.  When that file is submitted, it may be graded.  There is an option to allow the student to resubmit an assignment, which I think could get tricky if it happened all the time.  Use this assignment type if you plan to read, review, and comment on your students’ work. 

Advanced uploading of files

This is similar to the previous assignment type, but with some important functional additions:

  • Students may upload as many files as you allow in the settings (from 1 to 20)
  • They may delete uploaded files and add more (up to the limit)
  • These files are not submitted for grading when they are uploaded; an additional step for the student is to “submit for marking”
  • Notes may be added by the student, which are similar in feel to the Online Text assignment

This assignment type is perfect for project work, where there may be many files, of several types, completed over a period of time.  This assignment type allows the student to upload each file as it is ready, and send it to the instructor for grading when all are complete.  The ability to add notes only enhances the activity.

There are other assignment types in the Moodle contributed code.  Some look very promising, especially the ones for team (group) submissions.  I plan to play around with them this winter; I’ll let you know what I find out!

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