18 Aug 2017

Administer Automated Offline Quizzes with Moodle

If you are like most educational institutions, you are most probably still using the tradidtional paper and pencil testing for students, although a growing number of institutions are opting for a computer-based or online Moodle tests. The paper-and-pencil tests pose many challenges to administer for students. They can be very time-consuming to correct, even though they are multiple choice questions, and are susceptible to student cheating, unless you have the time to shuffle the answers and questions and correct the different versions. Thankfully, Moodle has a remarkable plugin Offline Quiz, contributed by Academic Moodle Cooperation.


After installing Offline Quiz Moodle plugin use the embedded cheat sheet below to help configure and administer a successful offline tests.

The Offline Quizzes plugin works much like an Optical Mark Reader, which reads the shaded bubbled or checkboxes and grades the tests based on that. The Offline Quiz plugin provides the PDF or Doc version of both the question sheet and the answer form. What is really remarkable is that it can give up to six groups of shuffled questions and answers, a great way to lessen cheating. Each student will get his pre-filled answer form with his ID as configured using the plugin. After the papers are scanned, students and teachers, based upon the teachers’ preference can see the errors after they are imported to Moodle and become part of the Moodle Gradebook.

More precisely, a complete offline quiz consists (at least) of the following steps:

  • A teacher creates an offline quiz in Moodle and adds multiple-choice questions, all-or-nothing multiple-choice questions or description questions (text) to the quiz. This is very similar to creating online quizzes (standard Moodle quizzes).
  • From the question lists the teacher creates question sheets and answer forms as PDF (DOCX) documents using the module. 
  • The question sheets and answer forms are handed out to students for the actual quiz. The students mark the answers they think are correct in the answer form.
  • The teacher scans the filled-in answer forms and uploads the resulting images into the offline quiz. The scanned answer forms are evaluated and graded automatically by the module. 
  • If necessary, the teacher corrects errors that might have occurred due to mistakes made by the students or due to bad scan quality.

After results have been created in an offline quiz, students can review their result as usual. If the teacher allows it, students can also see the scanned answer forms and which markings have been recognized as crosses.

The module supports up to six groups which are not related to Moodle course groups. Each group can contain a different set of questions in a different order. Separate question sheets and answer forms are created for the different offline quiz groups.

The module also supports lists of participants which are useful for checking which students actually took part in the exam. Lists of participants are pre-filled with students in Moodle. PDF versions of those lists can be created in the module for easy marking during the exam. The marked lists can be uploaded and evaluated automatically.

Admin Settings

As an administrator you can set the default values instance-wide on the settings page for administrators in the MC Offline quiz module.

  • formula for participant identification (text field)
  • mix questions (checkbox)
  • mix answers (checkbox)
  • logo URL (text field)
  • copyright indication (checkbox)
  • settings for exam inspection (checkbox)
  • decimal places (drop down)
  • paper’s white level (drop down)
  • 1-click inscription (checkbox)
  • role for inscription (drop down)
  • saving days (text field)



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12 Aug 2017

The Importance of Sound Pedagogy while Using Moodle: A case of one college

Moodle pedagogyAs much as I am always excited working with Moodle, the truth is that many Moodle users do not use sound pedagogy to have an impact on student achievement. Moodle HQ understand it very well, or are at least beginning to know the importance of sound pedagogy. That’s why they appointed a new pedagogy Adviser (read the interview). The main Moodle site also includes some pedagogical resources. Moodle also gives annual MOOCs for teachers and instructors to learn how to use Moodle from a pedagogical approach. There is however a problem when Moodle partners deliver those professional development sessions on Moodle as these sessions tend to be heavily reliant on Moodle features. They are not crafted to meet the professional needs or open possible opportunities for educators attending those sessions.

This post will discuss how one college, through a review study of their Moodle use, has unrightly come to the conclusion that Moodle is viewed as unsatisfactory for faculty members and students. Reading the study results, it is clear to me that the problem is not Moodle per se but how it is used by faculty members and students. Moodle itself claims to have been developed from a social constructionist stance and purports that “finding balance” is necessary. In this college LMS review highlights below, you will see that Moodle was not used for what it was intended too. You can extrapolate this to many other institutions that do not leverage the power of this “Swiss knife”. Let’s start.

Carleton College Moodle Evaluation and Needs Review

This evaluation and needs review was incited by reports and blog posts from both faculty members and students. The general feeling towards Moodle was this

Moodle is not fulfilling the curricular technology needs at a satisfactory level.

With the support of Future Learning Technologies Groups, the college conducted a campus-wide evaluation of the use of Moodle. In 2016, students and faculty were invited to participate in an online survey to gather data. The survey focused on assessing the satisfaction and importance of various features supported in Moodle 3.1. At the same time, the college investigated analytics from Moodle server to give more information about how and what is being used in Moodle. Finally, they conducted a focused group interview to gather more in-depth feedback.

Satisfaction and Importance Survey Results

All faculty were invited to complete an online survey asking about their use and satisfaction with Moodle. Faculty who indicated that they did not use Moodle at all were only asked to indicate the value they placed on various features that are typically provided by the learning management system (LMS). Those who indicated they did use Moodle were also asked how satisfied they were with how Moodle provided those same features.

Students were also surveyed on their satisfaction with Moodle and how it was used for their courses. A sample of 900 students were invited to participate in the survey.

Faculty who responded indicated that most of the communication activities listed were important to their work, and that they were quite satisfied with how Moodle performed these activities. As for assignment activities, the majority of faculty members do not use them, and those who used them were satisfied with them. Faculty placed a lot of importance on most course administration activities listed, and those who used Moodle for these activities were generally satisfied with it. However, a over half of respondents did not use Moodle for grade calculation, combining materials for separate sections of a course, or for controlling access by groups of students. There was some importance placed on interactions such as online discussions, signup sheets or peer review activities, but most faculty did not seem to use Moodle for these types of interactions.

The student survey was separated into five sections – Individual Course Information, Course Information Across Multiple Courses, Assignments, Grading & Feedback and Non-Course Activities. Students placed a lot of importance on most of the features relevant to individual course pages, particularly access to course readings and syllabus information. They were generally satisfied with their experience with most of these features in courses that used them, but seemed to be less satisfied with notification options from Moodle. Student comments indicated that there was a desire to retain access all past course sites and have a consolidated calendar of assignment due dates. Several students indicated that they were unaware that Moodle could provide a consolidated calendar of dates, and a few indicated confusion over how to navigate within Moodle. Students placed a lot of importance on assignment features such as accessing assignment prompts and uploading their submissions to assignments, but less importance on collaborative activities. Students indicated that they were generally satisfied with assignment prompts access and submission upload, but collaborative features have not often been used in classes they took. Students placed a lot of importance on accessing grade and feedback information, both at the assignment and course levels. However, there was uneven satisfaction levels with these features, with some students indicating that they have never had a course that used them. Few students answered these questions because they had never used Moodle for non-course activities (such as student organizations, etc). Those who did indicated that features for these situations were generally important, however most indicated that they had never used Moodle for these purposes.

Focus Group Results

Seven focus groups sessions were conducted with faculty and staff to discuss opinions of Moodle and the importance of curricular technologies, in general. Twenty-three people attended the discussions. The comments were split into sub-categories as listed below:

Course Needs

  • Adaptive Lessons or Quizzing – activities involving adaptive lessons or quizzing
  • Archival – using Moodle to archive information about the course
  • Communication – using Moodle to communicate course information with students
  • Desired setting or feature – request for a specific feature or function that is not currently available
  • Discussion – using Moodle to host online discussions in addition to in-class activities
  • Information distribution – using Moodle to distribute course information to students
  • Online interactions – using Moodle for other online interactions, such as getting student feedback or conducting peer review
  • Organizational – using Moodle to organize the course information for students
  • Scheduling – using Moodle to schedule appointments, tutor sessions, presentations, etc
  • Specialized Tools – using or linking to Moodle for discipline-specific activities or features
  • Tracking & Grading – using the assignment grading, gradebook, or other ways to track student activity

Support Needs

  • Dissatisfaction with current status – expression of dissatisfaction with current features, or the way features work
  • Lack of information – comment on how information is not available or accessible to those who need it
  • Lack of interest – comment demonstrating a lack of interest in using the features of Moodle
  • Lack of time – comment on how there is not enough time available to use Moodle well
  • Recommendations for support techniques – recommendations for how ITS could better support faculty use of Moodle
  • Support preferences – expression of which support materials are preferred

FocusGroupsComments-SupportNeedsCategorized

Moodle Database Results

This analysis was done on the data available in the Moodle databased for course pages used during the academic year from Fall 2014 through Spring 2016. This analysis included about 5130 course pages,

Overall Moodle Usage
  • 42% of all objects added to Moodle course pages are Files.
    Count of all Objects by Module Type (Moodle Eval 2016)
  • Other forms of information distribution make up another 36% of all objects
  • added to Moodle course pages
  • Other modules commonly used include Assignments (9%), Forums (8%) and Quizzes (2%)

Conclusion: The primary use of Moodle is to distribute information and resources to students.

The Moodle server reports also included in-depth view of forum usage reveal that they ere used almost exclusively for distributing information, and rarely used for interactive discussion. The Assignment module was sometimes used, but it was not often used to return feedback to students. The primary use of Moodle was to distribute information and resources to students. Gradebook is not often used to calculate or share grades with students.

The Moodle interaction analysis showed that

  • Students were mostly viewing Moodle sites, with the most views being of the main course pages, module pages, assignment submissions and discussions.
  • Student use of Moodle increased as the content available on the Moodle site increased, with student usage increasing quite a bit for course pages with the most content.
  • Teachers were mostly viewing Moodle sites, although not as much as students. The most views were of the main course pages, user lists, module pages and grade reports.

Commentary

Based on the triangulated college Moodle review above, there is a clear indication of the disparity between faculty use and faculty perception of Moodle. This indicates that this college faculty professional development on using Moodle, instructional design faculty professional development, and ,as a result, faculty technology integration attitudes need to be addressed. The faculty members were mainly using Moodle as a file repository. This is fine as a start, but this was not why Moodle was built. The most important activities and modules in Moodle like discussion forums, lessons, workshops, groups and groupings etc. were not used, and if they were , they were sporadic and not based on sound pedagogy. As a result, students did not appreciate the Moodle platform because there was no community of inquiry present.

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18 Jul 2017

Moodle 3.4 Embraces Learning Analytics, at Its Core

With the proliferation of LMSs and learners adopting online/hybrid learning, it is no question that there is a genuine push for learning analytics to gain more insight on how to optimize learner achievement, and gain more retention. Major LMS providers, and many less known ones, have adopted learning analytics. Some with great success, others not so much. So, it has come as a belated -yet very welcome- announcement in March 2017 when Moodle HQ announced the commencement of Project Inspire.  Project Inspire is essentially Moodle’s learning analytics that “go beyond simple descriptive analytics to provide predictions of learner success, and ultimately diagnosis and prescriptions (advisements) to learners and teachers”.

Currently, Project Inspire is still in Phase I (Descriptive and Predictive analytics) with future phases (diagnostic analytics and prescriptive analytics) on the roadmap. The Inspire plugin is out however for Moodle 3.3 for download. Moodle HQ promises that it will be in Moodle 3.4 core.  This is a much awaited step for Moodle in the right direction after their fabulous work on Competency based learning and Moodle Mobile (and Moodle Desktop).


Here’s an introduction to Project Inspire. It also calls for all Moodle using institutions to participate in the project to help develop Moodle’s learning analytics.



And, if you are skeptic about Learning Analytics value, here’s Peter Dobinson’s talk on measuring learning in Moodle at MoodleMoot UK & Ireland 2017.

Elizabeth Dalton, Moodle’s Research analyst, also talks about Project Inspire at MoodleMoot Australia 2016

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11 Jul 2017

Moodle Announces Moodle Desktop for Windows Mobile Users

Many universities, schools, and even businesses require learners to use Windows operating system, whether on their laptops or their mobile phones. This is why Moodle has developed the Moodle Desktop. The Moodle Desktop has all features and functionalities a learners would find in the  Moodle Mobile App. This includes :

  • Easy access to course content: View course activities and download materials for offline use.
  • Connectivity with course participants: Quickly find and contact other people in your courses.
  • Engagement in course activities: Attempt quizzes, post in forums, play SCORM packages, edit wiki pages and more – both on and off-line.
  • Easy assignment submission: Upload images, audio, videos and other files from your device.
  • Checking of upcoming deadlines: View activities due, sorting by dates or by courses.
  • Keeping up-to-date reminders: Receive instant notifications of private messages, forum posts, calendar events and assignment submissions.
  • Tracking progress: View your grades, check completion progress in courses and browse your learning plans.

 

Moodle Desktop currently works for  Windows Version 10, with Windows 7 and 8 comining soon. As with Moodle Mobile, Moodle Desktop will be updated by Moodle HQ every two months.

 

Download the Moodle Desktop from the Windows Store and try it out.

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01 Jul 2017

Moodle Nested Course Format for Complex, Multi-level Courses

Moodle course formats and additional plugins offer a myriad of options for any course to meet its specific  requirements. From one topic courses, to task-based courses, to social learning course, to weekly course formats, Moodle can cater for everyone’s needs. But many courses are complex, which forces the instructor to arrange the contents in  sub-components or  multi-levels. For example, my English class includes: Literature, Grammar, Writing, Vocabulary, SAT, Research Competency. Now, if I were to use any topical format, my Moodle course will have the above components as main Moodle course topics and all the sub-components will be laid out on the the topic page, where students will have to scroll forever to find all the complex contents of Literature, such as activities and resources based on different texts.

As a teacher, I will also have a major problem in 1- laying out and sequencing the content of each subject component using labels to separate the contents, and 2- showing/hiding contents that need to be revealed or hidden from students at specific times during the year. From my experience, this results in needless headaches and a lot of cognitive load on my part to hide/reveal separate contents that could go on forever.

This is where Moodle’s flexible sections format, nested topic format, comes in for the aid. The flexible sections course format looks very similar to the topic format except:

  • there is no parameter “Number of sections”, sections can be added and removed as necessary
  • section can also be added inside another section
  • each section (regardless of its nesting level) can be shown expanded or collapsed. Teacher can change it in edit mode.
  • If section is displayed collapsed, its name is displayed as a link to the separate page and on this separate page the link “Back to … ” is displayed
  • If teacher hides a section all nested sections and activities become hidden as well.
  • if section has both activities and subsections activities are displayed first.

 

flexformat-top sections 

 

 

 

 

Add as many top sections as you need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


control top level topic

Control Top Level Sections, highlight, make sub-section top section level, delete, move section, and hide/show section.

 

 

 

 


 

 

subsections

Add and arrange sub-sections to top level sections. Make a a sub-section, a top section level. Hide sub-sections, and its activities/resources.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


arrange sections and subsectionsArrange sections and subjections. Move top sections to sub-sections.

 

 

 


endlessly add subsections and sub-sub-sectionsEndlessly add sub-sections, and sub-sub-sections for complex. courses.

 

 


expand contract subsections and sections

 

Expand/contract section and sub-sections.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The flexible course format speaks for itself, it can provide for all multi-level courses, typically those that last for a semester or a whole year, specifically in an academic setting.

Give it a try and let us know in the comment below.

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28 Jul 2016

Moodle Mobile Update 3.1 Adds the Ability to Submit Assignments

 

Great news today for Moodle users, especially who love accessing their Moodle site using their mobile phones. Moodle mobile, though lagging behind in terms of interactivity with the course contents, is a work in progress. Today, Moodle announced a great update to its Moodle mobile app. Moodle students now are able to submit assignments, in-text and file submissions, using their Moodle Mobile app. Also, if using the wiki tool in Moodle, you can edit the wiki using the Moodle Mobile App. All you have to do it update your Moodle Mobile on your phone. Below is Moodle’s announcement of the update.

2016-07-28_22-39-39

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23 Jul 2016

Student Competencies and Learning Plans in Moodle 3.1 that You Really Need to Harness

 

The new trend of competency based education is taking the education institutions by storm. Personally, I do not think it is a fad and that it might wither away down the road. Competency based education advocates have been diligently at work for years to make it seep into the educational institutions’ culture. INACOL’s latest project  Competencyworks is one example. As defined by CompetencyWorks, competency education

refers to a systems model in which (1) teaching and learning are designed to ensure students are becoming proficient by advancing on demonstrated mastery and (2) schools are organized to provide timely and differentiated support to ensure equity. A competency-based structure enables personalized learning to provide flexibility and supports to ensure mastery of the highest standards possible. With clear and calibrated understanding of proficiency, learning can be tailored to each student’s strengths, needs, and interests and enable student voice and choice in what, how, when, and where they learn.

Some of the characteristics of CBE are, as defined by CompetencyWorks, ar =e

  • Students advance upon mastery.
  • Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students.
  • Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
  • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions.

 

Educational vendors, especially, educational technology vendors, have capitalized on CBE, sometimes renaming it as  mastery-based education, to bring in customers. Moodle, the open source learning management system, has added Competencies features for its new Moodle 3.1 release that administrators, teachers, and students, if using them right, will find them remarkably beneficial.

Competencies in Moodle 3.1

Competencies features are broken into three parts in Moodle, and each part is interacted differently by Moodle admins, Moodle course teachers, and Moodle students.

1. Competency Framework is where the Moodle administrator names the framework with which teachers and students will work on.

2. Competencies are the competencies that the Admin links to the competency Frameworks and then Moodle Admin or the teacher can link the competency to the course. Teachers can also link activities to competencies.

3. Student Learning Plan is where the student with the help of the teacher constructs a learning plan and links it to competencies that he or she needs to meet.

 

Below is a video playlist of three parts on how teachers, admin and students can use competencies in Moodle.

 

Moodle also has two plugins if you need to import or export competencies. This comes it really easy to transfer competencies in and out of Moodle instead of manually entering them.

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