Tag Archives: Moodle 2.4

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‘.

    completion

  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

    restrict-access

  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.

    restricted

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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 Moodle.org. However, we have created a number of screencasts to help staff familiarise themselves with using it, and put them together in a YouTube playlist:

What’s new in Moodle 2.4?

On Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th April our Moodle hosting provider, ULCC, are upgrading our Moodle installation from Moodle 2.2 to Moodle 2.4, during which time our Moodle site will be available only as read -only. The reason for the upgrade is to improve the stability of the system, fix some issues with course backups, improve performance and to move the installation to new hardware.

As well as improved performance, there are a number of new features that we are looking forward to, namely improved user interface for tutors and students, and the improved Moodle assignment module.

Improved user interface

One of the first changes you might notice is that the icons used have been improved, not only for the resources and activities, but also for the editing options.

Activities icons

Settings block

Edit title

One new icon that will really help to speed editing up for tutors is the Edit title icon. This means that you can now edit the name of any resource or activity directly on the course page.

FIle title

Add activity or resource

We also really the new activity chooser. Rather than two separate menus for resources and activities, you can now simply click on the link + Add an activity or resource in the appropriate topic area. You can then see a help section which explains what each resource or activity is.

increase or decrease topic sectionsIt is now also much easier to increase or decrease the number of topic sections. You no longer have to go to the ‘Edit Settings’ area to do this – you simply click on the + or signs at the bottom of the course front page.

Navigation warningAnother nice new feature is the Navigation warnings that display if you try to navigate away from a page without saving, thus ensuring that you do not lose unsaved changes.

Course layoutThere is also a new Course layout option (under Edit Settings) which lets you choose to Show one section per page. This collapses sections to their summaries, but by clicking on the section title you can see the whole topic or week.

You can navigate to the next or previous topics by using the navigation links that appear and return to the main course page by clicking on the link Return to main course page.

One section at a time

All in all, this is another clever way of avoiding the dreaded ‘scroll of death’.

Finally, blocks can now also be drag-and-dropped to new locations on the course page.

Drag and Drop File Upload

Speaking of drag and drop, we think our tutors are going to love the fact that you can now drag files from your desktop straight over to Moodle.  For example, a teacher can add files straight to the front page of the course from the Windows explorer window on their desktop.

Drag and Drop files

Similarly, a student can drag their saved assignment file directly from their desktop through to the assignment activity.

Select files

Unfortunately, drag and drop does not work with Internet Explorer versions below 10. If you do not have IE 10, you could ask the helpdesk to install it for you, or to install an alternative browser that drag-and-drop will work with, such as Google Chrome or Firefox.

Alternatively, you can continue to add files using the Add button and the File picker, as you could do in Moodle 2.2.

Improved Assignment module

In Moodle 2.4, rather than having four different Moodle assignment types, there is a new assignment module which combines all of the previous assignment types into one activity, with the available settings covering all of the previous options. This means you can combine options, for example asking the student to submit a file but also to produce an online text submission (perhaps with embedded hyperlinks or other media). (There will be little or no change to the Turnitin assignment as far as we know).

The new Moodle assignment also looks to be more student-friendly. In the past we have had issues with students who are not sure that their assignment has been submitted successfully (even when tutors had enabled the ‘send for marking’ button it was not clear to them). In Moodle 2.4, tutors can Require students click submit button, which requires them to click on Submit assignment when they are happy with their work.

On each assignment students see a Submission status which tells them whether the assignment is still a Draft (not submitted) or Submitted for grading.

Assignment draft

Added to this, they should also, in future, receive an email receipt to inform them that their assignment has been successfully submitted. This should make things easier for tutors, who have often been contacted by students who are unsure whether or not they have submitted their assignment correctly.

Assignment receipt

There are also some significant new features in the new assignment module, such as being able to set group assignments, so that groups of students can work collaboratively and receive a common or individual grade. You can see an example of this in Mary Cooch’s video: Group assignments in Moodle 2.4

It is also now possible to allow for blind marking, so that students’ identities are hidden whilst their work is being marked. Again, Mary Cooch has provided an example of this in her video: Blind marking in Moodle 2.4.

Other improvements include the fact that tutors can now set a cut-off date, beyond which submissions will no longer be accepted as late. However, they can also now grant submission date extensions to individual students. Also, it will be possible to include a submission statement, so that students have to tick a box agreeing that the assignment is all their own work before being allowed to submit it.

Basically, the new assignment means you just need to add an assignment activity and then configure the settings to your own needs, and the user experience is improved as it is much clearer to students that their work has been submitted successfully.

Miscellaneous

The main changes are those that have been outlined above. However, we also like the following new options in Moodle 2.4:

  • Conditional access to course sections – you can now restrict access to a course section based on dates or on completion of other activities on the course
  • Displaying file size and type – you can now choose to display the file size and/or type on the course page. This is particularly useful if you are going to upload a large file (students can decide whether or not to try and start downloading it from a data connection which may charge them for data download)
  • Quiz ‘Open attempts are submitted automatically’ –  a new setting allows the tutor to set the quiz so that any partially completed student attempts are submitted. This will solve the problem of the what one of our tutors had called the ‘Russian roulette’ game some students play when doing a quiz under exam conditions (waiting until the last possible moment to submit, and not allowing enough time to do so).

I have outlined some of these new features in the screencast below, using the test site provided by our Moodle hosts, ULCC. I hope to produce one on the actual site once our upgrade has taken place. To get the best possible quality, use the cog icon on the bottom right of the video to choose HD.