Category Archives: activities

Restricting access to final assignment until feedback has been completed

One of the regular questions we get asked is

How do I prevent students from submitting their final assignment until the course feedback has been completed?

This can be done using ‘Conditional Activities‘ [see Moodle 2.4 Docs here]

To do this, Completion Tracking must be enabled at site level, and activated at course level for any courses where you want to use it.

  1. Add your Feedback activity then in the settings scroll down to ‘Activity completion’.
    For ‘Completion tracking’ choose ‘Show activity as complete when conditions are met‘ then tick the two boxes for ‘Student must view this activity to complete it‘ and ‘View as completed if the feedback is submitted‘.


  2. Return to the course and add a Turnitin or regular assignment. In the ‘Restrict access’ settings choose the name of your feedback activity in the ‘Activity completion condition’ section, and choose ‘must be marked complete’.

    In the ‘Before activity can be accessed’ section choose ‘Show activity greyed-out, with restriction information


  3. Now when you return to the course you’ll see what the students will see. The assignment will be greyed-out and won’t be unlocked until the Feedback activity has been submitted.



Using the Moodle Scheduler to set up appointments with students

In the past we have been asked by a number of our tutors whether or not it was possible to use Moodle to set up appointments with students. When we upgraded to Moodle 2.4 it seemed like a good opportunity to get the plugin for the Moodle Scheduler installed, having heard good things about this activity, e.g. Gavin Henrick gave it 4/5 in his review of the Scheduler for Moodle 2. (Our Moodle site is hosted by ULCC, who installed this for us, but Henrick’s review is a good place to start if you are thinking about installing this on a Moodle instance yourself).

You can use the Scheduler to set up one-to-one appointments with your students, but it is also possible to set up group appointments if you have created groups on your course. You can decide whether to allow students to book one appointment in total, or one appointment at a time, which would allow for multiple appointments over a period of time (useful maybe if you want students to book before attending general office hours). You can also award a grade for an appointment, but if you’d prefer not to, can still leave feedback in the form of a comment, after the appointment has taken place.

Scheduler multiple slotsOnce the tutor has added the Scheduler activity to a course they can then add appointment slots. You can, for example, specify the days of the week and the times when you will be available between particular dates, and ask Moodle to divide these into slots for you. You can include a location, and ask Moodle to generate reminder emails to students before the appointment. Another useful feature is that if there are multiple tutors teaching a course you can set up appointments for the different tutors, and these can overlap if need be. As well as adding multiple slots, you can add single slots.

Once the appointment slots have been generated, then you can allow students to book themselves on to a slot of their choice. When they click on to the activity, they see a list of available slots, click into the appropriate radio button to make their choice and then save it. They can also change this appointment time later if there are still slots available.

Student view of Scheduler

Upcoming Events SchedulerWhen an appointment has been applied for, the teacher receives an email to tell them this, and they would also see the appointment appear on the Upcoming events block on the front page of the course (as would the student). The tutor can view a list of their own appointments by clicking on the My appointments tab on the Scheduler activity, or can export the list from the Exports tab:

Scheduler My appointments tab

You could also schedule students on to appointment slots yourself if you’d prefer to, or if some students have not bothered to sign themselves up. To do this, scroll down to the Schedule by student area, and click on Schedule next to the student’s name. You could, however, also send an Invitation or Reminder email asking them to choose their own slot first.

Scheduler Schedule by Student

Once you have met with the student(s), you need to record their attendance at the appointment if you want to then leave a grade (if you have set this up in the Scheduler settings) and/or a comment. To do this, you would click on the Save seen option underneath the student name.

Next, to leave feedback, click on the student name. To leave a comment, click on the Comments tab. If you are grading the appointment, you can do this on the Appointments tab (you can only leave a grade after the appointment has taken place).

Scheduler grade and comment

One niggle with the Scheduler if you are using the grading option is if you are using a scale to grade your appointments; as a tutor you can select the appropriate level of scale (e.g. refer, pass, merit etc. on our pass/refer scale) for each student from the dropdown list. However, when the student views the grade within the Scheduler activity, they would actually see a numeric value (e.g. between 1 and 5 if there are five levels in your scale). They can go to the gradebook to view the actual word/phrase from the scale, but it’s a bit annoying that it doesn’t display as this in the activity itself.

Apart from that, it looks like the Scheduler is going to work very well for us, and a number of tutors have already started setting up appointments for giving feedback to their students on end-of-term assessments.

There is documentation available on the Scheduler on However, we have created a number of screencasts to help staff familiarise themselves with using it, and put them together in a YouTube playlist:

Assignments in Moodle 2 and through Turnitin

We’ve been having requests lately from staff members who have been setting up Moodle and/or Turnitin assignments for the first time who needed help to do so. We had already created some video tutorials to explain how to do this, but realised that one of the most common questions we were getting was – what does the student see? We do have the ‘switch role to student’ option available on our Moodle 2 site, but you don’t actually get a true picture of what the student will see (for example, you don’t see the ‘Upload a file’ button on a Moodle assignment).

We have therefore created two new YouTube playlists for tutors, which include our video tutorials aimed at students, so that the tutor can also see it from their point of view. These are:

Assignments in Moodle 2

Turnitin assignments in Moodle 2

In both playlists we explain how to set up the assignment and then how to provide grades and feedback. We also include the student videos on how to submit the assignment and how to view grades and feedback.

On the Turnitin playlist we also explain how to submit a paper ‘on behalf of’ a student. You could do this if a student has submitted a paper to you electronically, either through a Moodle assignment or via email, and you suspect plagiarism. You could set up a Turnitin assignment on your Moodle course and then submit the paper under the student’s ID to check the originality report.

Forums in Moodle 2

We’ve been enjoying exploring our new Moodle 2 site, and this week we’ve been looking at forums. Most of you will be relieved to hear that not much has changed in terms of how they work – a forum is still a useful tool for encouraging communication and collaboration between tutor and students, and between students. However, there are a few changes on the Glyndŵr Moodle 2 site that we are pleased to see.

A new forum type

First of all, there is a new forum type available. We still have the forum types Single simple discussion, Each person posts one discussion, Q and A forum, and Standard forum for general use, but we also now have the Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format. This is an open forum, where anyone can start a new discussion or reply to posts at any time, but in which discussion topics are displayed in a blog-like format, with a link to ‘Discuss this topic’ on the main forum page if others want to make comments:

Tutors also now have the option of exporting forum posts, which you may want to do in order to archive evidence of students’ contributions, for example. We can either use the Export whole discussion option, or alternatively, you can export an individual post by clicking on Export to portfolio:

You can choose to export as HTML or as Leap2A, a format which makes it easy to export to Mahara Eportfolio.

The News forum

Another improvement is that the admin settings on the News forum have been changed so that students no longer automatically have the permission to reply to posts there. In general, staff have always found it useful to be able to post an announcement here if they want all students to read it; all students receive email notifications of any new posts because they are all automatically subscribed to the news forum on their course sites. However, in Moodle 1.9 students also had the ability to reply to news forum posts (unless you overrode the permissions on the student role), which would then also generate an email to all course participants. This was not ideal when some people were already complaining of being swamped with emails from Moodle. The change in Moodle 2 mean that this should no longer be an issue, and gets another thumbs up from us.

Quiz, Question bank and Quiz Reports in Moodle 2.2

Some of the activity modules that you might already be familiar with using in Moodle 1.9 have been much improved for Moodle 2. We are getting excited about some of the changes to the Quiz module, the related Question bankand the Quiz reports available.

Quiz: student view

Quiz navigation

From the students’ point of view, navigation around a quiz is a lot more user friendly. They now see a Quiz navigation area on the left-hand side of the screen, which allows them to move between the questions more easily. flagged question

They also have the opportunity to flag any question that they are not sure about. This flag remains on the question until they remove it, and they would see it when they finish the quiz and before submitting, giving them a chance to go back and review their answer. The tutor would also see the questions that the student has flagged, and would thereby be made aware of any problems the student has faced.

Quiz: teacher view

From the teachers’ point of view, there are also a few improvements, in particular when setting up the quiz (under ‘Edit Settings’).

Display description

After giving the quiz a Name and an Introduction (where you can explain what you would like the student to do) you can select Display description on course page. This would display the information you have provided in the Introduction field (under ‘Edit Settings’) on the course page, just below the link to the quiz (so you wouldn’t need to use an label to give instructions).Quiz with description below

Still under ‘Edit Settings’ the option for shuffling questions has now become Question order and been moved to a section called Layout. You can also decide where to include the page breaks (Every  x questions) under New page. Layout settings quiz

You can still make changes to the page breaks later when editing the quiz questions by clicking on the Order and paging tab.

You also have the option, under the Display section in  ‘Edit Settings’, to Show the user’s picture while the quiz is open. This would be useful for exam situations where the invigilator needs to ensure that the person taking the quiz is indeed the enrolled student::Display picture for quiz

Another nice feature of the quiz in Moodle 2.2 is the possibility of setting different start and finish dates and times, and number of attempts, for different groups. To do this, click on Group overrides under Quiz administration. On the next screen click on the Add group override button and this will take you to the Edit override screen where you can adjust the settings for particular groups that you have previously set up:

You can also change settings for individual students, by going to User overrides under Quiz administration, for example if you want to allow a student to re-take a quiz but you had originally set the number of Attempts allowed to just 1.

Question bank Settings

Question bank:

You can see from the screenshot on the right that you can access the Question bank either from under the Quiz administration, or from under the Course administration Settings.The question bank in Moodle 2.2 is more flexible, as you can share questions within a course with your Lesson activities. To do this, you need to Export your questions in a Gift or XML format, and then Import questions when you create your lesson activity.

If you have admin access, you can share questions across different sites, but even without admin access you can do this by using the Export and Import functions, saving the export files on to your machine, and then importing them into the relevant activity on another course site.

To add questions to your quiz, you can either go to Edit quiz or to Questions under the Question bank under Quiz administration. 

Question typesClick on the Create a new question button and you will see the Choose a question type to add box. Click into the radio button next to each type to see a short description of the  question type.

At Glyndŵr we have most of the same options in Moodle 2.2 as we had in 1.9 (although the Drag-and-Drop Matching is no longer available).  There are, however, two new variations on the Calculated question type: Calculated multichoice and Calculated simple.

Initially I was quite excited to see the option to add tags when you create a question in Moodle 2, as I was hoping that this would make it easier to search for your questions. However, I was disappointed because, as far as I can tell, this feature is still currently at the development stage. So, at the moment, all that adding tags will do is create a pretty word cloud if you add a Tags block to your course – clicking on the tags in the tags block only gives you the option of seeing recent blog entries, users or courses who mention the tags, not items in the question bank.

Quiz Reports:

There have been changes to the reports that are available for each quiz in Moodle 2.2, which allow you to see details of each response given by all students.

ResultsTo access the results, you can go to the Navigation block, drill down to the relevant course, and then to the quiz in question, and then click on Results. You can then click on the ‘arrow head’ icon next to Results to choose whether you want to see Grades, Responses, Statistics or Manual grading.

Attempts - quizAlternatively, click into the quiz from the front page of the course, and then click on the link ‘Attempts: x‘ (where x is the number of attempts made).

The Grades report shows all the students’ attempts, with grades for each question and the overall grade:Grades report quiz

At the bottom of the page a graph shows the distribution of scores. You can select individual attempts by clicking in the check box on the left of the table, or Select all/Deselect all attempts by using the options underneath the table, and then Regrade or Delete selected attempts.

The Responses report shows the answers given by each student for each question,  highlighting whether they are correct or not, but it does not show the students’ score. Again, you can control what you see on the report by setting preferences at the top of the page, you can delete attempts, and you can download the information in a variety of formats.

The new Statistics report provides for statistical analysis of the quiz such as average grades and distribution of scores, but it is also possible to drill down into individual questions for detailed analysis. You can download the Quiz information report and the Quiz structure analysis table in various formats.

Manually gradeFinally, the Manual grading report makes it easy to grade questions that need manually grading such as Essay questions. You can  click on the link Also show questions that have been graded automatically to edit all grades.

Overall, some nice new features in the Quiz module, and I’m looking forward to starting to use it and to helping our staff to best make use of it.