Saturday, December 12, 2015

Restoring grades for a student who accidentally unenrolled from a Moodle course

A couple of weeks back I was contacted by a student in the AuthorAID MOOC who had unenrolled from the course by mistake (although the danger of doing this was explicitly mentioned in the course induction section). She said she had almost completed the course and she was understandably in panic.

Comparison of Moodle Lesson, Moodle Book, eXeLearning

Yesterday I created a spreadsheet at work to compare three content authoring tools: Moodle Lesson, Moodle Book, and eXeLearning. Here it is:

Friday, December 11, 2015

E-learning and other bad words

The "e" in "e-learning" troubles me. As long as it's there, "e-learning" will always seem like something separate from "learning". 

Some other words I don't like:
  • E-resource (seemingly anything online can be an e-resource)
  • Module (to refer to a lesson or unit)
  • Virtual learning environment (does learning occur "virtually" on it and not in reality?)
  • Learning management system (Big Brother would certainly like such a system connected through single-sign-on to his Mind Control Management System)
I like words such as...
  • Learning platform (I don't think we need to say "online learning platform" anymore. We are in the age of the platform after all.)
  • Lesson (with words such as online, interactive, downloadable, etc. to describe it)
  • Document, spreadsheet, slide set
  • Quiz (with words such as multiple-choice, adaptive, timed, automatically scored, etc. to describe it)
  • Assignment
  • Forum
  • Unit (which may contain content and activities) 
  • Course (as long as it's used to refer to a proper course and not just a set of "e-learning modules"--gah!)

Monday, August 17, 2015

How to be a successful learner in a MOOC

MOOCs (massive open online courses) have high dropout rates. It could well be that learners drop out of MOOCs because the content isn't relevant, the teacher is boring, the course is too hard, etc, but in this "age of MOOCs" it's perhaps good to be realistic and accept that teachers can't be responsible for every single student. Whether a MOOC has 100 learners or 100,000, the teacher is not going to be able to attend to learners individually. And who is going to take the biggest hit as a result of this?

Unprepared learners.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Troubleshooting a slow Moodle site at an African university

As part of my work for INASP I've been in touch with a few people at a major open university in Africa to set up an online course on their Moodle site.

But there was one obstacle: their Moodle site was really slow.

Sitting far away in Mumbai with only teacher-level access to their site, I could not tinker with the front-end administrator settings and certainly not the server where their site is hosted. All I could do was count the seconds it took to load a page.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Interactive elements in Moodle Book content

The Book module in Moodle allows you to easily create a series of pages of online content, with text, images, embedded videos, etc.

One major limitation of the Moodle Book is that you can't include any questions to check learners' understanding or to introduce a pause for reflection.

If you want to include a lot of questions, you should consider using the Moodle Lesson module, but what if you're happy with the Book but want to include at least some simple reflection questions? You can indeed do this!

Here's an example. Click the buttons below the question.

What do you understand by the term 'quality'?

Like what you see? Below is the code you have to put in a Moodle Book page (or chapter) in HTML view to create buttons like the ones shown above and the show/hide text. I've highlighted the show/hide text that's the only thing that needs to be customized.

<div id="showtext">
function displayResult() {
    document.getElementById("showtext").innerHTML = "'Quality' is a loaded word...<br><br>";

function reset() {
    document.getElementById("showtext").innerHTML = "";

<button onclick="displayResult()">Reflect and click</button>
<button onclick="reset()">Reset</button>

If you're going to use more than one show/hide feature on the same page, you can reuse the code but you have to remember to change the names of the functions - displayResult() and reset() - as well as the <div> element "showtext" for any new instance of the feature.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

5 reasons Moodle's Feedback module is better than SurveyMonkey for online courses

If you run an online course on Moodle, you probably collect feedback from the students and maybe the teachers too.

SurveyMonkey is a popular tool to set up surveys and feedback forms. And there are other tools that do a similar job. They give you so many options for creating questions and collecting responses that it's easy to think of them as superior to Moodle's relatively humble Feedback module. This doesn't seem to be something that Moodle developers are very proud of, as it's not even enabled by default on a Moodle site! If you've used it, you might have wondered -- Why does the form look so bare? Why can't there be a few more question types?

So why should you use Moodle's Feedback module instead of SurveyMonkey or something else?

Here's why:
  1. You can keep the feedback form anonymous and yet know who has filled out the feedback form and who hasn’t, using the Activity Completion report. This is useful to determine course completion in cases where giving feedback is mandatory. Also, when you make the form anonymous, the message "Mode: Anonymous" appears right on top of the form, which should reassure respondents.
  2. How many times have you wished you could quickly figure out who didn't respond to your survey? When you use Moodle Feedback as a teacher you can see a list of non-respondents, select some or all of them, and send a message -- all from the same page!  
  3. When a feedback form is spread over multiple pages, the respondent’s answers are saved from one page to the next. You can set up a similar feature on SurveyMonkey but it seems a bit complicated.
  4. You can set up email alerts to be sent to the course teachers when the form is filled out each time. On SurveyMonkey, "Survey Alerts can only be sent to the main email address on the account." Bah.
  5. Keeping the feedback form on the same learning platform as the course makes the form look like an integral part of the course and not a pesky extra activity.
Have you enabled and used the Feedback module in your Moodle? You should!

Monday, July 6, 2015

How might the new MoodleCloud change the Moodle landscape?

MoodleCloud has just been announced at the Moodlemoot in Australia.

My quick impressions after checking out

Monday, June 29, 2015

Readymade and free Moodle badges

  1. You want to award badges to your learners on your Moodle site.
  2. You know how to do this and let students link their badges to Open Badges.
  3. You're stuck. How are you going to create the images that represent the badges?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Why you should blog about Moodle

The Moodle community forums are vast. Every day hundreds of questions and answers are posted. It's really the best place to go to if you have a Moodle-related question or for any of the below reasons:

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Promote Open Badges when you award Moodle badges

Badges have been a feature of Moodle since version 2.5.

What's a badge? It's something you can award to your students. It's a small image with metadata. When you award it to a student on your Moodle site, they can see it in their profile page. Other students can too, if people can view each other's profiles. Good stuff, but is that it? No! These badges can be published on Mozilla Open Badges. Take a look at my Open Badges page. The badge data is also published (issuer details, badge details). I can't change any of that, so it lends the badge authenticity.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Change text alignment of glossary entries from center to left

You have set up a glossary with auto-linking. You include the title of a glossary entry somewhere in your course, and ta-da, there's an automatic link to the entry. One problem though. When you click the link, the text of the glossary entry is center-aligned in the pop-up window. Not a bad thing if your entry is just a couple of lines long, but what if it's a fairly lengthy entry? It can be quite hard to read.

To left-align the glossary tip that pops up, add this line to the CSS section in the Clean theme settings or any other theme that lets you customise CSS easily.

.moodle-dialogue-confirm .confirmation-dialogue {text-align:left;}