Tag Archives: Moodle

Moodle user notes

I need to look at the Notes feature in Moodle 2 to see if it works the same way as in 1.9

In 1.9 a Lecturer or Tutor can leave notes for any student in one of their sites and any other Lecturer or Tutor can see them.
There are three kinds of notes:
– Moodle-Wide notes: If you’re a Lecturer (or Tutor) in any site where the the user with the note is a Student, you can see the note
– Site Note: If you’re a Lecturer o Tutor in the site where the note has been left about the student you can see it.
– Personal note: only the person (Lecturer/Tutor) who left the note on the student can see the note.

If the student has both the Lecturer/Tutor role and a Student role in any site, they can see the Moodle-wide notes about themselves. If they have both the L/T role and a Student role in the site where the note has been left about them, they can see that note.



/Update: Notes behave in the same fashion in Moodle 2. (2.1)

(ab)using the Forum Activity to have students respond to feedback?

I was asked if it was possible to force students to read feedback given to them on an assignment, and how to check if they actually do.
Without going into whether this is the right approach to communicating feedback, here’s something that one could try…

But first something I have seem people do:

One could set up an Advanced Uploading of Files activity “Assignemnt 1”, where the students submit their assignments. When grading, one could then leave marks and feedback for each student.

One could then create a second Advanced Uploading of Files activity “Assignment 2” where one instructs the students to address the feedback left for them in Assignment 1.

I have seen people do this and it seems to work, however there is a problem: How does a teacher match the response to the feedback (ie. Assignment 2) to the feedback left in Assignment 1. In small classes, the teacher could just switch back to Assignment 1 and have a quick read, but in a class of 400 the students could just pretend to respond to anything and it would be too time consuming for the teacher to check.

So another proposed, yet untested option would be to (ab)use the Forum activity:

Go to Groups and use the Auto-create groups facility to create 400 groups with one student each. Add these groups to a Groupingindividual students“.

Now create a Forum activity, set to observe the new “individual students” Grouping you created, and in Separate Groups mode. Call it “Assignment”. Turn on ratings, out of 100, which just turns them into fake marks. In the description field of the forum, write your assignment question as you would have done in the File Upload activity.

Now unleash the students. Due to the Separate Groups setting and the single student groups, students will only ever be able to see their own posts, so the privacy is conserved. The teacher can see all students’ posts using the group selector.

Each student would submit one forum post as a response to the question – depending on the assignment it could have attachments. The teacher would then go to the forum activity, read/download the forum posts and leaves the feedback as a reply post to the student’s post. The teacher woudl rate the student’s post to give it a mark. When in the ‘All groups’ view, any discussion (assignment submission) without any replies is awaiting marking, any discussion with one reply has been marked and is awaiting student response to the feedback.

Now a second cycle woudl start where the students are asked to reply to the feedback post by the teacher. This would allow the teacher to track whether the student is responding to the right feedback, and there woudl be continuity to the student’s progress.

Unfortunately there is no facility to set a due dates here, so one would still have to communicate these to students. But the forum does track submission dates and marks (ratings).

(I haven’t looked at whether Moodle 2 has any facility to let students respond to feedback, these ideas are focussed on Moodle 1.9)


CCA-Educause 2011 (Sydney)

another half-written post that I never finished. Sorry. I guess I missed the window on this one.


Last week Several weeks ago I attended the CCA_EDUCAUSE conference at the Sydney convention centre. and co-presented a session titled “Managing Relationships with External Learning Management System Providers”, which Allan Sieper form ANU in the lead. Also co-presenting were Alan Arnold from UC and Marina Lobastov from ANU.

The focus of our presentation was on how we managed our respective Moodle instances which are hosted by the external Moodle Hosting Partner, Netspot.

My bit of it focussed on how we communicate with our local teaching staff, IT area and the hosting partner (helpdesk and higher level support): The Teaching and Learning Centre, of which I am a part of, is the owner of the Moodle application and acts as a middle-man between internal IT and the external partner and the teachers.

I also outlined the processes of how we manage changes to our Moodle instance which are sometimes requested by teachers, sometimes initiated by the TLC, and sometimes found by the hosting partner.

Tom Worthington (ANU) mentioned our presentation at http://blog.tomw.net.au/2011/04/hi-tech-higher-education.html and so did Mark Drechsler (Netspot) at http://www.markdrechsler.com/?p=552


I very much enjoyed some of the resulting conversations with other institutions I had after the presentation. A number of collaboration efforts between other Moodle-using institutions will be kicket off in the next few weeks and months, which should let us address some of the wishes we Australian Unis have for Moodle.

Sieper, Allan. “Managing Relationships with External Learning Management System Providers” CCA-EDUCAUSE Australasia (2010): n. pag. from http://ccaeducause1.caudit.edu.au/index.php/educause/ccae2011/paper/view/222. 30 Apr. 2011

Quickmail block

The Quickmail module for Moodle has been on the list of plugins to test and implement on the Moodle instance I worry about for a while.

I have now had a chance to play with it a little more and to understand what it is meant to do. As a result, I don’t think that it does what we want it to do. Read more »

The Start of Semester Wizard

This is what we need: a web form wizard, that walks the lecturer through the important steps they need to take at the beginning of any teaching period.

At the moment, each semester a lecturer has to do the following things (among others)to ‘get ready’:

  1. book rooms (ahead of the start of semester)
  2. set up lecture recording for the timetabled lectures
  3. set up a Moodle site
  4. link the recordings to the Moodle site
  5. get tutorial groups from the tutorial selection system into groups in Moodle (at around week 2, usually)
  • I don’t know about the details of room booking, except tha peoplstart with this way ahead of time based on expectations and then later adapt based on enrolments.
  • Lecture recordings are currently requested from AV services though email or paper forms.
  • We have a Moodle site creation form, using which the lecturer can create the site, link it to the offer in the student management system, and have the students imported automagically.
  • At the moment it is difficult to create groups in Moodle based on students’ selections in the tutorial selection system, but we’re working on something make this possible.

With our new lecture recording system there is the opportunity to re-think step 2 above, and I’m thinking that this coudl be done similar to the form we use in step 3.Or, to take this further, why not combine the two, and make it possible to link in further steps such as step 4 and 5. That way, a lecturer woudl only have to start the process, step through the steps and finish with having everything set up. The lecturer woudl know what has been set up, and there would  much less manual work involved, especially for AV.

I would like to call this the “Start of Semester Wizard” (tm, r, c, etc):

It woudl ask which unit the lecturer is teaching, and then ask which offering of the unit. On the basis of that the Moodle site would be created and students would be linked in. Then the wizard would retrieve the timetables lectures, tutes and workshops and set up the recordings, with options for modifications, for instance skipping certain days. THe wizard woudl know about the mOodle site, so it could set up the integration between the lecture recording system and Moodle right away. THen the wizard coudl query the tutorial allocation system and pick up students for groups.

Future steps and integrations coudl be added…

Posted in part by Wordmobi

Moodle integration with Live@Edu

I wrote a post over at the University of Canberra Teaching and Learning Centre blog about our Moodle integration with Live@Edu.

You can read that post at http://tlcucan.blogspot.com/2010/03/moodle-integration-with-live-at-edu.html

MoodlePosium Presentation: myMoodle changes (MDL-19430)

Last Monday and Tuesday I attended the MoodlePosium at the University of Canberra. The event was organised jointly by University of Canberra, the Australian National University and the Canberra Institute of Technology, with support from Moodle Partner Netspot.

On Tuesday I gave a short 10 minute presentation on MDL-19430, on what I have unfortunately called “user-determined order and number of courses on myMoodle“. Unfortunately, because with a mouthful of a title like that, it was difficult for delegates to take notes. Aside from the title however, it seemed to me that the functionality added to myMoodle through MDL-19430 was well received. As such I am hoping that I will be able to justify spending more time on it, to improve on it and hopefully make it work in Moodle 2.0.

MDL-19430, the hack that allows users to set the order courses are displayed in on their myMoodle page, and which also allows users to decide how many of their courses are displayed on myMoodle when it loads, currently is a ‘local’ hack that overrides built-in behaviour. Unfortunately it isn’t a module that you can just plunk into your installation of Moodle: First, you’ll need to install MDL-17446 (LOCAL: my moodle centre column override), which will allow you to create a separate file for custom code. (There are more LOCAL handlers in the tracker to override other functionality)

MDL-19430 (user-determined order and number of courses on myMoodle) then just provides this custom functionality. So it almost works like a module once the LOCAL hack is installed.

Once installed, users can ‘Turn Editing On’ on their myMoodle page, and use up and down arrows next to their courses to change the order (on the todo list: drag and drop). This order is saved in a custom profile field, so it will be remembered between sessions.
Users can also use a drop-down list to decide how many of their courses should be visible in ‘Normal Mode’. This means that they could decide to only show their current four classes, or show the ones they are most interested in first.

In the run-up to the MoodlePosium I created a short movie showing how it works here: http://www.minhtam.info/a/screens/MDL-19430_%2820090904%29.swf
My talk from the MoodlePosium should also come online soon.

Please let me kow what you think, either here or in the tracker, or in the moodle.org forum discussion. We have now been using this on the production server for a week. Students will have their second week of break this week, and we’ll see what they say when all 15k or so of them are back.

Survived the MoodlePosium

MoodlePosium foldup toy

MoodlePosium foldup toy

While I probably wasn’t as essential to the organising of the MoodlePosium as the other members of the committee, which was made up of members from the Australian National University, the Canberra Institute of Technology and the University of Canberra (Alan Arnold, Helen Carter, Sue Demoor, Liz Gestier, Marina Lobastov, Annabel McCabe, Penny Neuendorf, Jaymie Parker, Caitlin Reid, Margaret Robson, Kerry Trabinger, Steve Watt, Louisa ‘Buzz’ Wright), I still am quite relieved that it’s over. In the end time passed so quickly and so much needed to be done. I am happy that nothing went majorly wrong.

I had a great two days wth lots of other moodlers, talking with others about how they used certain tools, what they were concerned about and what they were looking forward to in Moodle 2.0. I met the Moodle Possum, I got to catch up with some of the people I had met at the Moodle Moot in Brisbane last year, and spent an evening having fun with Netspot (among others).

While I unfortunately wasn’t able to listen to all of Denise Kirkpatrick’s opening keynote live as I was running around campus looking for lost delegates, I did enjoy hearing what the Open University UK was up to with Moodle.
Martin Dougiamas’ keynote was excellent as always, and he gave us a little more insight into plans for Moodle 2.0 in the afternoon, and how the upgrade process would work. I am very excited to play with the beta once it’s announced in December or January.
Julian Ridden’s keynote on Tuesday morning was inspiring, and as a result I have a list of things we should at least look at to implement in our instance of Moodle.

My own (hardly-worth-being-called-a) presentation about my myMoodle customisation went fairly well, I believe. The title of the short presentation was a mouthful: “User-determined order and number of courses on myMoodle“, which is the same title as the tracker item I created for my little hack. A shorter title here would have also helped the people who wanted to know where they could download it from. (more on this later)
As usual I forgot the dot points I had prepared and as such ended up forgetting to tell people that our instance of Moodle actually celebrated its first birthday on Monday. We changed the banner for the occasion, so hopefully somebody noticed. I also forgot to thank Ashley Holman from Netspot, who has helped me get the code right (read: maintainable).

I had great time at the moodleposium and hope that I will be able to attend the next Moot. People have also been talking about another ‘posium next year, again with a focus on Higher Education.

While we’re waiting for the next Moodle meeting of some sort to come along, you can look at the pictures from the MoodlePosium, the programme and another interesting writeup of the posium and some background information.

new version of files for MDL-19430

I uploaded a new package of files to MDL-19430.

I have made a number of changes to improve security, maintainability and performance, as suggested by Ashley Holman.

I have also made changes to the install.txt to hopefully avoid the confusion Mark went through.

This package is straight from of my installation of 1.9.5, and Penny’s patch also works fine on 1.9.5, once you create the ‘local’ folder.

Microsoft’s Live@Edu Authentication Plugin (and more) for Moodle

MoodleLive@EduEarlier in the week Microsoft Education Labs, released an authentication plugin and some integration between Live@Edu and Moodle. Reactions to this release were plenty since Tuesday.

We’ve been a Moodle institution since late last year and IT have early this year also completed bringing in Live@Edu in for students. Naturally, I wanted to have a play with the new integration.

After downloading the 624kB package from the Education Labs site (http://www.educationlabs.com/projects/moodleproduct/Pages/default.aspx), all I had to do was unzip the files to the right spots in my test installation of Moodle 1.9.5. I followed the instructions to get an Azure/Live Services Application ID, plonked it in to the field in the Moodle admin section, and created a new user account linked to my Live identity.

I then logged out of Moodle, and was able to log in with my live ID. Excellent!

I couldn’t play with Outlook live and Alerts though, because I don’t have access to the required Live@Edu admin details.

I’m very excited to see this implemented. I think it would be great for students, if implemented correctly.

One thing I don’t like, is that if you log out of an account authenticated via live, you get redirected to MSN Live, instead of the Moodle front page. [Update: It looks like imagined this redirection, as it’s not doing it any more.]