Best practices: Creating community using Glossary

As educators, we know that communication is important in any learning environment, and that, in the online world, communication is critical to student success and satisfaction. Take a moment to reflect on the ways you currently communicate with students, the ways students communicate with you, and the ways students communicate with one another. What data are you gathering about the effectiveness of these communication strategies? What’s working, what’s not, and what’s missing?

In today’s blog we want to introduce you to a new communication strategy looking at a familiar Moodle™ feature from a new perspective!

Building a student spotlight

How might you use Moodle™ to create an opportunity for students to get to know one another while highlighting their individuality a foundation of the inclusive online classroom? Consider employing the Glossary activity to meet this need. In this instance students would enter the activity to introduce themselves sharing more than just superficial information with one another.

By adding the random glossary entry block your Moodle™/Joule site can feature students randomly creating a student spotlight.

This use allows both students and instructors the opportunity to learn about class participants on a deeper level creating opportunity for connection understanding and acceptance.

Understanding the Glossary activity

The Glossary activity allows instructors and participants to collect and organize entries. Teachers can build it collaboratively with students or create it individually.

A teacher can allow students to attach files to glossary entries. Attached images display in the entry. Users can search entries browse them alphabetically or browse by category date or author. Entries can be approved by default or require approval by a teacher before they are viewable by everyone. A teacher can also allow comments on entries.

Try creating this Glossary activity by completing the following steps:

  1. Go to the area of your course you want to add the activity.
  2. Add a Glossary activity.
  3. Choose the following settings:
    • General settings
      1. Enter a name for the activity in the Glossary name text field.
      2. Add an introduction and instructions to the Introduction text box.
      3. Do not select the Display description on course page checkbox.
      4. Set the Entries shown per page as desired.
      5. Leave Is this glossary global? unchecked.
      6. Select Secondary Glossary as the Glossary type.
      7. Do not allow for duplicate entries by selecting No for the Duplicate entries allowed setting.
      8. Select Yes to Allow comments on entries creating a community aspect to the spotlight.
      9. Select No for the Allow print view option.
      10. Select No for the Automatically link glossary entries setting.
      11. Select Yes to Approved by default unless you want to review entries before making them available to students.
      12. Select Encyclopedia for the Display format. This will allow uploaded images to display with the posts.
      13. Set the Approval display format to Default to same as display format.
      14. Select the Yes checkboxes for Show 'Special' link Show alphabet and Show ‘ALL’ link. These options will provide students with easy navigation through the student rolodex.
      15. Select Yes for the Edit always option.
  4. Grade
    • You do not need to select a grade category as this example is not graded.
  5. Outcomes
    • If using outcomes choose the outcomes from the list to which this activity will map.
  6. Ratings
    • Select No Ratings for the Aggregate type.
  7. Common module settings
    • Set Visible to Show.
  8. Restrict access
    • Set appropriately if using restrictions in your course.
  9. Activity completion
    • Select Show activity as complete when conditions are met from the Completion tracking drop-down menu.
    • Check the Require entries checkbox and enter 1 in the Student must create entries textbox.
  10. Click the Save button.

Now we need to add and configure the Random Glossary Entry block.

  1. Locate the Add a block drop down menu and select Random glossary entry.
  2. Click the Configure icon.
  3. Enter Student Spotlight for the Title.
  4. Select the name of your glossary from the Take entries from this glossary drop-down menu.
  5. Set the Days before a new entry is chosen setting as desired for example 1 to spotlight a new entry every day 7 to spotlight a student of the week etc.
  6. Select Random entry for the How a new entry is chosen setting.
  7. Select Yes for the Show concept (heading) for each entry option.
  8. Enter custom text in the When users can add entries to the glossary show a link with this text. For example Read more about your classmates and introduce yourself to us.
  9. Remove the text from both the When users can view the glossary but not add entries show a link with this text and the When users cannot edit or view the glossary show this text (without link).
  10. Set the options for Where this block appears and the On this page setting as desired.
  11. Click the Save button.

Food for thought

In looking to maximize the possible benefits and minimize the potential pitfalls of this communication option consider these best practices for effective implementation:

  • Remember you’re part of the learning community too. After creating the glossary be sure to add an introduction of your own. Not only will this model your expectations for students but it will allow them to build a connection with you as well.
  • Be sure to use the information. This activity can yield a plethora of information about your students. Take advantage of that. If you find you have students with expertise in specific areas call on those skills and qualities when appropriate. If students share information on talents or interests work that information in to communications with them. When students recognize they are not invisible they feel a stronger sense of community connection and are more likely to engage with other students with you and with the material.

Considering these best practices the features of the Glossary activity and the communication strategy detailed above can you think of some other novel or unconventional approach uses of this tool?

As we wrap up today keep in mind that Moodle™ is literally a world-wide system and there are many places where you can find assistance to further your Moodle™ knowledge. If you like this idea and want to learn more about the Glossary activity and other advanced Moodle™/Joule features consider signing up for Open LMS newly redesigned Moodle™/Joule Course Building for Advanced Users course.

Happy Moodling

~Tara Thompson



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