Category Archives: Moodle

All things Moodle

Learning Analytics ….. measure what you value

Learning analytics is not a new term for higher education. In fact as far back as 2010 Learning analytics was mentioned in the NMC Horizons report. Last year I had the privilege of attending the LAK conference in Edinburgh in Scotland which is a very established international network of people researching learning analytics. So learning analytics is far from new. But, in my experience,  until recently the conversations around student data and learning analytics were limited to a few people within institutions. However in recent months it is a term that is gathering a lot of interest in the every day conversations within higher education institutions. More and more people are seeing the potential and in some cases even realising the benefits of learning analytics. Dr Bart Rientes, Prof Shane Dawson and Prof Dragan Gasevic are people that I follow with great interest. Each of them leading the way in their respective fields, researching different aspects of learning analytics.The National Forum for Teaching & Learning, an organisation supporting T&L in higher education in Ireland has recently launched a project to raise the awareness of Learning Analytics so all of the indicators are that this is an area that is here to stay and will only get bigger in the years to come.

Personally speaking I got involved in learning analytics in DCU nearly 3 years ago examining if there was a correlation between a students engagement with the VLE and their success rates in the module. As you can expect, there is a very strong correlation. But we took it one step forward, using historical data we built algorithms to predict a students success based on their current interactions and we gave this information back to students with the hope of it improving completion rates. More information can be found here. Without spoiling the surprise, while the project was a success this project only gave one piece of the jigsaw.

puzzle_pieces_-student-success

Several different initiatives emerged following the findings from this project. Each one giving a different piece of the jigsaw.The next series of posts will outline the various learning analytics projects that we have conducted in DCU.

In conclusion learning analytics has proven to be a powerful tool that can help improve the learning experience of the student in so many ways but each bit of data is only one piece of the jigsaw.  My word of caution that I would give to anyone interested in learning analytics  is measure what you value, don’t value what you measure!

Guiding people around Moodle

Learning any new software can be difficult at the best of times but if you are not  a “digital native” even an apparently simple system can be a huge obstacle. This is most certainly the case with Moodle. If you can’t use it, it won’t matter how good it is, it just won’t be used. In my opinion Moodle has an added complication that as it is an open source product designed by many people to suit a large array of needs it may not always be as simple as you would like it to be.

To tackle this issue we commissioned the development of a plugin for Moodle that gives users a guided tour around each page when they arrive on it for the first time. The guides can be for students or teachers and the plugin is designed in such a way to allow generic tours to be used on any type of course page, no matter how it is laid out or what blocks you have included on your course page.
It has great potential for student orientation with Moodle and also potentially removing a fear for staff if they want to try out new features on Moodle

Hopefully you will find this plugin useful

https://moodle.org/plugins/stats.php?plugin=local_usertours

Here is a short presentation which I gave to staff recently – hopefully explains it a little better.

FYI “Loop” mentioned in this video is the name of our Moodle instance.
Please pass this post onto anyone that you feel would be interested.

Interested in Collaborating on Moodle 2

Everybody connected in some way or another with Moodle is aware that the system has undergone significant changes when it moved from Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2. Some institutions are lucky to have significant resources at their disposal to cope with these changes – other institutions are not so lucky. Most of us have built up our training and support resources over a number of years. But the advent of Moodle 2 has put everybody onto the same starting point. To that end I have a suggestion for a collaboration. I suggest we sharing resources for Moodle 2. A logical suggestion considering the open source nature of Moodle.

We can potential share training resources i.e. training manuals and screencasts. In theory this level of collaboration is great, in practice though, there can be a great deal of difference between two different Moodle instances so my instructions on how to do x,y, or z is not applicable to your institution. That said, I do feel sharing instructional resources is a very useful idea and potentially a great starting point for collaboration between two or more institutions. However I have a specific suggestion on how to collaborate through Moodle.

I would like to collaborate on Moodle 2 orientated around an initiative led by Napier University in Scotland. This initiative is referred to as the 3E framework. The framework is based on an Enhance-Extend-Empower continuum. This was developed, with illustrative simple-but-effective examples that might be incorporated as a minimum (Enhance), through to uses of technology that give students more responsibility for key aspects of their learning (Extend), and to underpin more sophisticated, authentic activities that reflect the professional environments for which they are preparing (Empower).

The framework is best explained through examples. The link below provides such examples

http://staff.napier.ac.uk/services/academicdevelopment/TechBenchmark/Pages/examples.aspx

I would like to support this framework by crowd-sourcing screencast examples/instructions on the various features of Moodle relevant to the example on the framework e.g. if the example under groupwork at the enhance level

  • Make the group working more manageable and ‘visible’ by having each group post a weekly update of progress to a private discussion board visible to the group and tutor” –

The relevant moodle screencasts would be how to create groups and how to post a discussion forum.

If you are interested in either of these initiatives please contact me via the comment box below or via twitter through @glynnmark

A poster outlining some of the great changes in Moodle 2

The poster below can be accessed in powerpoint format by clicking on the image below. Please feel free to download and adapt this poster to suit your needs – remembering creative commons. I would also welcome any feedback on the poster through the comments section of this blog post.

What is Moodle?

Moodle

Moodle (abbreviation for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is a free source e-learning software platform, also known as a Course Management System, Learning Management System, or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Moodle is a software package for producing Internet-based courses and web sites. It is a global development project designed to support a social constructionist framework of education.

Moodle is provided freely as Open Source software (under the GNU General Public License). Basically this means Moodle is copyrighted, but that you have additional freedoms. You are allowed to copy, use and modify Moodle provided that you agree to: provide the source to others; not modify or remove the original license and copyrights, and apply this same license to any derivative work.

This presentation sums it up it up nicely

 

 

Student generated content as an assessment

There are a variety of tools that can be used in moodle allowing students to generate reusable learning objects. Click on each of the each on the links below to find out more and how they can be used to get students to generate content to help themselves and their peers learn a particular topic :

Moodle Glossary

The glossary activity module allows participants to create and maintain a list of definitions, like a dictionary.
Glossary can be used in many ways. The entries can be searched or browsed in different formats. A glossary can be a collaborative activity or be restricted to entries made by the teacher. Entries can be put in categories. The auto-linking feature will highlight any word in the course which is located in the glossary.

For information on how to set up a glossary please look at the video below

The wonderful Michelle Moore from Remote Learner gave a presentation at  MoodleMoot 2012 in Ireland where she highlighted the huge potential behind Glossaries

For more information on Glossaries please visit: http://docs.moodle.org/22/en/Glossary_module

Moodle 2 Databases

Databases

The database activity module allows the teacher and/or students to build, display and search a bank of record entries about any conceivable topic. The format and structure of these entries can be almost unlimited, including images, files, URLs, numbers and text amongst other things. Similar to the glossary option the database module is a great activity that can be utilised as a student assessment, allowing students to generate content for the rest of the class (and future classes) to learn from. Three main features distinguish databases from glossaries

Databases allow the teacher to provide specific fields for students to populate with information

You have a variety of template options

You can format the how the final product looks very easily.

The screencast below illustrates how to set up databases

For more information go to:  http://docs.moodle.org/22/en/Database_activity_module

Removing the “scroll of death” in Moodle with Diigo

The scroll of death is an infamous feature of courses on moodle; a consequence of too much content on the one page and the user having to continually “scroll” down page to find the information they are after. This tip will help teachers minimise the scroll of death, while at the same time keeping course page up to date with minimal effort from the teachers point of view.

Read the rest of this entry

Moodle Discussion forums to collect new class material

Discussion forums are extremely powerful tool help bring learning outside the classroom. However they also can be used to bring learning back into the classroom from the teachers point of view. This short youtube clip illustrates the different type of discussion forums available into moodle and also how to set them up.

Later clips will show you how to use this as an assignment that gets the students to assessment the contribution of their classmates