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.

Carrying out the Student Evaluation of Module (SEM) in Moodle

The Centre for Learning, Teaching and Assessment (CLTA) at Glyndŵr University have recently reminded staff that on many modules it will soon be time to carry out the mid-course Student Evaluation of Module (SEM). The usual option is to hand out hard copies of this questionnaire, made up of 18 multiple choice questions, with room for comments at the end. Guidance on getting the data from the questionnaire analysed is provided by the CLTA on their Moodle site, and for large cohorts tutors are able to send the hard copies for scanning using Optical Mark Recognition (OMR).

However, an alternative is to use your Moodle site to carry out the survey. This will be particularly useful for those courses where modules are delivered entirely online. To add the questionnaire to your Moodle module, use Add an activity…Feedback. You can then click on the Templates tab to make use of the public templates we have created on the University’s Moodle site, available either in English or in Welsh. As students submit their responses you can see the collated data using the Analysis tab, from where it is also possible to export the results.

The CLTA stress that it is important to get a high response rate or the quantitative data collected will be meaningless. One advantage of setting up the activity in Moodle is that you can set it so that responses are anonymous, but at the same time keep track of who hasn’t submitted their answers. To do this, you would need to enable Student Tracking at the course level (under Settings > Edit Settings), and set the activity completion on the feedback activity so that it is ‘complete’ once the student has submitted their answers. You can then use the Activity completion report to pick out those students who haven’t responded and encourage them to do so.

The video tutorial below explains how to set up your Student Evaluation of Module on your Moodle site:

Copying content from Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2.2

The majority of the staff at Glyndŵr have now logged in to our new Moodle 2.2 site, which will be live for our students from 4th September 2012, and issues of access to courses are being resolved. Our next big task is to help our staff to populate the new site, as we have started off with a fresh Moodle 2 environment, rather than upgrading. The main reason for this was because we are taking the move to Moodle 2 as an opportunity to reorganise our Virtual Learning Environment. This post outlines how we are copying across content and some of the issues we have come across.

Course backups and restores for support sites

We have begun to help staff to copy across their content from the current Moodle site  to the new one and for the student support and staff support sites we can back up a Moodle 1.9 course and then restore it in Moodle 2.2. It is then a case of advising the relevant staff members that from now on they need to start updating information on the new site and be prepared for the go-live date for students in September.

There are, however, a few things that a Moodle administrator needs to bear in mind when doing a course backup in 1.9 before restoring in 2.2:

  • There are a number of non-core Moodle modules that won’t copy across, for example the Journal, or for us, Turnitin assignments (we are moving from a basic integration to a native integration). You need to remove these elements from the list of what’s included in the backup file; otherwise when you come to restore you will simply get an error message.
  • For Glossaries and Databases, the core settings and a link will appear, but you will find that the entries don’t copy across. For both modules your best bet is to then go back to the original activity in 1.9 and export the entries. You can then import entries into the glossary or database in your 2.2 course.
  • Your topic headings from Moodle 1.9 will appear as labels in 2.2, so you will need to copy them into the appropriate places using the ‘Edit summary’ icons.
  • Staff should be encouraged to check any files and links – we have found that sometimes what displayed as a file in 1.9 will appear as a URL in 2.2, or vice versa. In particular, you need to check any links to files located elsewhere on the course, to other topic areas or to other courses on your Moodle site – some will invariably be broken.
  • Given that there is no longer a files area, and we are not using the My Private Files function at Glyndŵr, you may need to re-upload pictures (they may be fine in labels or pages, but not display correctly in, for example, quiz questions). Again, encourage staff to check.

Options for copying content across for academic sites

In spite of the issues outlined above, if you are doing a simple backup and restore to a new version of the same course, it is relatively straightforward. However, copying content across for the academic sites is not so simple, as we are changing how we organise our VLE. In our current Moodle site, different departments have organised their courses in a variety of ways, but from September we are moving to a system whereby every module delivered has a space on Moodle (one space per module code, per campus, per academic year) and there are also programme spaces for each programme delivered. Courses will be created automatically, based on the data held by Student Data Services in SITS, and students will be enrolled automatically.

There are very few courses, therefore, where we can do a straight backup and restore. One way we’ve been getting around this is to restore 1.9 content into a 2.2 programme site, and then use the Import function to copy content relating to specific modules into the relevant module spaces. (You can see a video tutorial of how to copy content from one course to another here).

Some staff, of course, are going to use the move to Moodle 2 and the reorganisation of the VLE as an opportunity to review and rethink how they present  their content and deliver their learning online, and we would encourage them to do so. However, for those staff members who want help moving their content across, we are therefore giving them two options:

  1. We can do a backup of the Moodle 1.9 course and restore this into a Moodle 2.2 space (as discussed above). This is the more appropriate option if they have resources other than files (such as links to websites, labels etc.) or activities (such as forums, assignments etc.) on the site.
  2. Download the files they have uploaded to Moodle 1.9 and then upload these to their new Moodle spaces. This is the more appropriate option if they only have files and folders on their current Moodle space, and/or if they want the opportunity to rethink how they organise their Moodle space.

The video below outlines these options to our members of staff:

Access to Courses in Moodle 2

We are now encouraging staff at Glyndŵr to log in to our new Moodle 2 site, if you haven’t already done so. From September 4th the link ‘Log in to Moodle’ on the university home page will point to the new Moodle site, but until then staff need to use the URL: There will be a link on the front page of Moodle 2 pointing back to the old Moodle site, which will be available until at least December 2012.

Once you have logged in for the first time, then you will be assigned the appropriate access. The diagram below explains what you should see under the My Courses area, and also how your access will be assigned:

  • For the programme sites, staff support sites and student support sites, you will be given editing rights manually, by Alicia Owen or Dave Mosford in Web Services; if you cannot access the sites you need to, please contact us.
  • Access to module sites will be dependent on the data held in SITS by Student Data Services. If you are listed as a module leader, you will be given the ‘course leader’ role, which means you will be able to assign teacher access to other users, but you will not see this until 24 hours after logging in for the first time.
  • Students will have access to modules and programmes that they are enrolled on in SITS. If they cannot see your modules (24 hours after logging in for the first time) then they need to contact Student Data Services.

The video below demonstrates what you should expect to see:

A poster from Mark Glynn outlining some of the changes in Moodle 2

Technology Enhanced Learning

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.

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Activity completion and course completion

Tracking student progress

One of the nicest new features in Moodle 2 is that you can now track student progress by setting criteria for completion of resources and activities with activity completion. You can then monitor the students’ progress through the course with course completion. This would be a good way to monitor student engagement and flag up problems, for example, to identify at-risk students who may need support (see Franklin et al, 2012, Exploiting activity data in the academic environment, JISC).

To enable activity and course completion, you first need to enable this on the course settings. Go to Settings > Course administration > Edit settings and make sure Completion tracking is set to Enabled, control via completion and activity settings.

Activity completion

Once you have enabled Completion tracking, you can set activity completion criteria whenever you set up or update a resource or activity, although it is worth remembering that you don’t have to! (you may only want to use it on a few activities, which you see as important).  The criteria could include:

  • viewing a resource
  • obtaining a grade in an activity
  • obtaining a pass grade in an activity
  • posting new discussion topics or replies in a forum
  • allowing students to manually mark resources or activities as complete

completion criteria

The completion criteria you set will determine what the student sees next to the links on their Moodle page i.e. tick boxes which show activities as Completed, Not completed, or ready for the students to Mark as complete.

Activity completion

Course completion

In order to have an easy-to-view record of the activities you then need to edit your course completion settings. To do this, go to Settings > Course administration > Completion tracking. Only the activities you have set completion criteria for would appear on this screen, but you can choose which of them to include as criteria for course completion.

You can view the Course completion report. On the Navigation block, go to (Course name) > Reports > Course completion. This will show you who has done what (ordinarily you would see the students’ names and email addresses here):

Course completion report

You could also add a Course completion block to your site for students to view their own progress, thereby taking responsibility for their own learning. To take this even further, you also have the option of allowing students to mark the course as complete themselves, in which case you could add the Self completion block for them to self complete.

The video below, from Moodle HQ, explains how these functions work in Moodle 2.

In a future post we’ll explain how you can use activity and course completion together with restricting access to create conditional activities.

Course formats in Moodle 2

The way that we organise content within our VLE at Glyndŵr University is going to change from September 2012. We will be moving to an automated system whereby programme spaces and module spaces are created automatically, using data from Student Records. At the moment, we have some course sites that are very large, and also therefore display a lot of content when the student first logs in, presenting us with the issue of what Mark Drechsler coined the ‘scroll of death‘. Once the integration takes place, we are hoping that this will be less of a problem.

However, for those course sites where there will always be lots of information presented on the front page, with Moodle 2 we will have some new course formats which have been designed to combat this problem:

Single format

With the single format, when the student first enters the course, they will only see one topic, but they can move to other areas of the course by using the dropdown menu that appears next to ‘Jump to…’ underneath the current topic. They can also choose to display all topics again by clicking on the ‘Show all topics’ icon. However, whichever whey choose to display the topics the student won’t see topic ‘0’ at the top of the screen, as they do in other formats. This doesn’t mean you can’t use the News forum with this format, but it does mean you should probably make sure you show the Latest News block on your site to display any news items.

Single format

Collapsed Topics

In the Collapsed Topics format there is a ‘toggle’ for each topic section (apart from topic ‘0’), which makes it easy to hide or display each topic, reducing the amount of content visible on the screen. Moodle remembers the state of the ‘toggle’ the next time you log into that course site with the same account.

Collapsed topics screen print

Collapsed Weeks

The Collapsed Weeks works like the Collapsed Topics, in that there is a ‘toggle’ function again, but of course the sections are divided into weeks rather than topics. The current week is highlighted in yellow, but the student can choose to look at previous or future weeks’ content by clicking on the appropriate ‘toggle’.

Collapsed Weeks screen shot

The video below explains how to change your course settings and course format, as well as explaining the different course formats available to us at Glyndŵr.