Tag: moodle resources

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, February 27th, 2011

Moodle 2.0: Availability Settings for Resources and Activities

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Construction sign board reads Big Changes AheadIn versions of Moodle prior to 2.0, activities such as assignments and quizzes could be made available to students any time, any time after a certain date, until a certain date, or within a window of time.  However, resources were either available or hidden.  This is problematic when the course design calls for material being “released for viewing” throughout the course instead of all at once in the beginning of the course.  The burden falls on someone (usually me) to “unhide” the content on the specified date.  I have forgotten to do this a couple of times, which led to a flood of emails from panicked students. Oops. 

I am thrilled that Moodle 2.0 will allow resources to be set up with a “show” and “hide” date, just like we’ve enjoyed with assignments. If you’re unsure about the difference between a resource and an activity, check out this earlier post. 

As if this isn’t exciting enough, 2. 0 also adds contingency option settings for both resources and activities.  

Now, in addition to date restrictions, the course creator may limit access to a Moodle activity or resource based on: 

  • A minimum grade received in one or more other activities within the course
  • Completion* status of one or more other activities within the course 

If the activity or resource is not available for any of the above reasons, the course creator has an option of showing it with restriction information or hiding it completely.  When the conditions are met – whether it is a date or status of other activities – the activity or resource will automatically become available.  No more setting the alarm to “unhide” the pages at midnight.  Yeah! 

OK, so what does all of this mean to you?

If you are offering continuing education units or courses that are governed by certification requirements, such as time spent, all material viewed, minimum grades, etc., you are in a better position to demonstrate that those requirements were met.  Even if you don’t have to answer to anyone, but you have certain learning objectives in mind that require a structured journey through the material, these new options are very beneficial.  

  • Students won’t be able to jump straight to the test or the assignments without reviewing the content.
  • All activities and resources may be marked complete, so you’ll have some good data to see what students are viewing – and not viewing – without having to grade everything.
  • You’ll be able to direct students to different materials within the same course, based on their performance of prior materials. If a student fails to view a page or complete an activity to your satisfaction, you can allow access to “remedial” materials, but not the next topic or exam.
  • You will never have to worry about whether the material is hidden when it should be showing, or showing when it should be hidden. 

While I think these new options are awesome, my fear is that this will add confusion for Moodle rookies.  This type of “if…then” logic can become very complex and will require some strategy to employ reasonably.  My even worse fear is that some course creators will go wild with it, with so many contingencies that it might as well be a “view next slide” course.  I can only hope that course creators will default to no restrictions, using the conditional availability only when it supports learning objectives.   

*There are several options for determining the completion status of various resources and activities.  I will cover those in a separate post…

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Thursday, December 30th, 2010

The Year in Review – Moodle Tips for Everyone, especially Small Businesses

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In the first year of Penny For Your Thoughts, I shared many of my “ah hah!” moments about Moodle.  The following posts share tips and advice on using some of Moodle’s many features.  Hopefully, they clear up some common points of head-scratching with Moodle.  Watch for more in 2011! 

My favorite source for Moodle happenings:

Here’s hoping for a safe and happy 2011. Happy New Year!

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Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

A Few Words About: Moodle Activities & Resources

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A Few Words AboutAlthough Moodle uses the terms activity and resource, I think of them all as pages or entities.  I suppose this is because each one shows up as a single link in the course outline (on the main page) or in a listing of each type. I choose which one to use based on the format and objective for each section of content, regardless of how Moodle classifies it. 

Each one comes with a choice of options, which are dependent on the activity or resource type. There will be even more choices with Moodle 2.0.  This post is about Moodle 1.9x only. 

In general, Moodle activities have more choices of settings than do Moodle resources; these are mostly to do with dates and grading.  From the students’ view, the biggest difference is that activities (again, in general) require - or allow - some input from the student.  Some examples of Moodle activities:

  • Quizzes
  • Assignments
  • Glossaries
  • Forums
  • Chats
  • Web meetings
  • Choices
  • Wikis

Activities can be set to allow viewing all of the time, have an available and/or due date, allow comments, allow inputs, and allow grading. 

Resources have fewer settings and can be anything from a web link to a static page of text.  The student uses a resource, but does not contribute to it.  Resources are used to provide information to the student and include:

  • Labels
  • Web pages
  • Links
  • Directories

Resources are typically available all of the time (they can be hidden but do not have date settings), do not allow input from students, and are not graded (or commented on).  Note:  Moodle 2.0 will make significant changes to availability settings.

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