Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Converting URLs into links when you write in Moodle

On your Moodle site you may find that when you enter a URL (ie, web link) it appears in plain text and not as a link. To make URLs appear automatically as links:

First, go to...
Site administration -> Plugins -> Filters -> Manage filters
...and set “Convert URLs into links and images” to On.

Then, go to...
Site administration -> Plugins -> Filters -> Convert URLs into links and images
...and place a check mark against all the options next to “apply to formats”.

You might expect that URL auto-linking would happen by default, but Moodle provides a very fine level of control to do things and sometimes this can seem like a hassle! But it’s often easy to find a solution to do something in Moodle by searching online – you’ll probably see a helpful article in Moodle Docs or a discussion on the moodle.org community forums. This is how I learn, and of course by experimenting!

Friday, January 15, 2016

When to not choose Moodle (and when to choose it)

Major universities around the world use Moodle, including The Open University in the UK (who also contribute to Moodle’s development). It’s a complex platform on which a lot of things can be done, and the downside is that those who’re looking to do only one or two things may find it too complex for their needs.

If you want to do only the below things, I would strongly suggest you don't use Moodle because you can do these with simpler or more focused tools.
  • Putting up content in the form of documents, videos, etc.
  • Having a discussion forum
  • Getting feedback from learners

But if you want to do some of the following Moodle is a great choice:
  • Develop interactive online content
  • Include learners in creating or adapting content
  • Develop quizzes with a huge range of options
  • Use learning analytics to get insights into the learners' experience
  • Maintain a set of discussion forums on different topics with different groups of people, which can all be easily accessed in one place
  • Orchestrate peer assessment activities
  • Use conditional access to develop a sequenced learning experience
  • Automatically award completion certificates based on criteria
  • And of course, develop proper online courses
You can do a lot more -- I wrote the above points in a couple of minutes without thinking too deeply!

Moodle is an online learning platform. It is not a tool, it is not even a set of tools. It's more than the sum of its parts! It gives you great power, so you have a great responsibility in creating Moodle courses that are optimal -- courses that don't underwhelm or overwhelm learners!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Automatically link tips in a Moodle course or site

Imagine you want to include a bunch of tips somewhere in your Moodle course (or Moodle site) and you want these tips to be automatically linked whenever you mention the title of any tip, without having to manually include the link. Not only that, when clicked the link should bring up a small pop-up window with the tip, instead of redirecting to a new page. Sure, you can do that on Moodle.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Changing the default font face and font size of content in Moodle Book

Recently a colleague asked me if we could increase the font size of the text in Moodle Book and change the font face to Calibri. She felt that these changes would make our content more visually attractive and readable, which is important for us as our content is largely text-based. The goal was to change the default font face and font size, so we wouldn't have to change them on every page using the text editor's settings. CSS to the rescue!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Moodling in 2015

Happy New Year to all Moodlers worldwide! On the first day of this year I thought I would jot down some highlights of my Moodle journey in 2015.
  • I gave a talk at iMoot 2015 on how to make peer assessment work in Moodle, which was later featured in Moodle News.

    And who says online conferences are not good for networking? At the iMoot I connected with a local Moodler, Michelle Chawla, who runs Tamarind Tree, an inspiring school for tribal schoolchildren north of Mumbai. Check out Michelle's talk at the iMoot.
  • In June I set up this blog! Good timing because I had a place to share my thoughts as soon as MoodleCloud was launched in early July. See my post and a related discussion on moodle.org.
  • With my colleague Andy Nobes I facilitated two online courses in research writing for a global audience of developing country researchers. One of these courses had 367 participants and the other - INASP's first MOOC - had more than 1700 participants!
  • I set up and facilitated a new course on the Moodle site of the organisation I work for (INASP). The course was for librarians in Ghana, and it was about copyright and licensing of research publications. Read a short summary of the course here.
  • I wrote a series of 17 lessons on the research communication lifecycle, which are now being used in INASP's research writing and proposal writing courses on INASP Moodle. I developed these lessons with eXeLearning as this is a great tool to develop content that can be made available online and given in exactly the same format as downloadable files. See my comparison of three authoring tools: Moodle Lesson, Moodle Book, and eXeLearning.
  • I wrote multiple-choice quiz questions for the above lessons and created quizzes using the Moodle Quiz tool. In our research writing course, learners must pass each weekly quiz by scoring at least 80%. They are however allowed an unlimited number of attempts. I initially thought these "check your understanding" quizzes could be too simple as they only test comprehension of the lesson content, but after seeing that most learners made multiple attempts to pass the quiz I realised they could be a bit challenging - which is a good thing! Moodle Quiz is an amazing tool with a vast array of options to develop engaging quizzes. 
  • We started awarding digital badges to successful online course participants on INASP Moodle. Andy Nobes designed the badges and I took care of the settings to automatically award badges based on activity or course completion.
  • In August I facilitated a 1-day workshop at Thai Nguyen University in Vietnam on open source educational technology, with an emphasis on Moodle.
  • Near the end of the year, I was invited to give a talk at the first MoodleMoot in India! This is going to take place next month in Delhi and I can't wait! I'm really thankful to Jaswinder Singh and the rest of the organising committee for their hard work.
Hopefully 2016 will be another exciting year of Moodling and contributing in a small way to improving learning experiences.