Thursday, February 18, 2016

Checking on participants falling behind in a course on Moodle

There are at least two ways to do this. Easy way first:

Access the list of participants through the Navigation block on the course homepage or the People block if it's there. Look for the option called "inactive for more than" at the top of the participant list. You'll see some time periods going back to the beginning of the course. I'm now helping run a course that started on 1 February, almost three weeks back, so I see the following options:

Select an appropriate value in the drop-down list, depending on what you think counts as active participation. Then scroll down, click "select all", and then click "send a message".

Then write your message for these participants who have fallen behind -- make it an encouraging one! I would say it's a good idea to remind stragglers through this approach only once, ideally a week or so after a course begins. Then it's up to them to decide whether to come back to the course. If you keep writing to the same group of people, they're likely to get annoyed.

But what if you want to closely track who has done what in the course and send reminders to specific people, instead of a catch-all "inactive for X time" criterion?

Then the activity completion report is your friend. This is easy to get started with but requires some spreadsheet analysis:

Click the “Reports” link in the course administration menu block on the left and click “Activity completion” – you’ll see a table with icons denoting who has completed which activity. At the bottom of this table you’ll see options to download the table as a spreadsheet. Download this (a CSV file) and first save it as an XLS or ODS file so that you can use it for analysis, eg, spotting participants who have not done specific things in the course or have fallen behind. (Of course for this you would need to have used activity completion settings for the different resources and activities.) Then you would need to collect those participants' email addresses from the same spreadsheet and email them. Again, it's important to strike the right balance: reminders that are encouraging and get some participants back on track (you can't hope to win over all of them) but don't end up reaching the same people again and again with little effect.

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