My top 8 favorite Moodle™ features

I hope everyone is having an excellent 2014! At the beginning of the year I like to create a to-learn list that identifies items I want to study or research more throughout the year. In light of this I started thinking about my favorite Moodle™ features. I generated a list of eight but it could easily be longer. Detailed below is my list along with an explanation of why I think each is great. Perhaps you’ll want to add them to your Moodle™ course building toolkit. Enjoy!

8. Feedback activity

The Feedback activity allows you to survey students using your own custom questions. It is a great tool for receiving Level 1 feedback. For example I recently created a suggestion box in one of my courses. Its setup is such that I can receive feedback from students at any time. With the release of Moodle™ 2.5 available to Open LMS customers in our last release you can now branch to questions within the Feedback activity based on a user’s response. This is an excellent enhancement to the module and is worth checking out!

7. Database activity

Use the Database activity to collaboratively build content rate it and comment on it. You can update templates to control how the content displays in the various view tabs. This can be a little bit tricky to learn at first but I feel it is worth the time investment. It is really a great activity and you can use it to generate data on any conceivable topic. Plus its content is searchable!

6. Drag and drop

Moodle™ continues to add ways to drag and drop content to build courses. It really does save time. I keep my local folder of course files open as I work in my Moodle™ course. This allows me to add files onto the course page to quickly create file resources and into my file picker as I create content within activities and resources. This is much quicker than browsing through my folders when uploading each file. Alternatively you can upload files into my private files via drag and drop. This is beneficial when you plan to reuse files.

You can also drag and drop textual-based content from a Word document directly to the course page to create a Page or Label. This is quick but be careful as Moodle™ adds span tags in your HTML code to maintain the formatting from your Word document which will overwrite your Moodle™ styles. As a result it could create inconsistencies in the look and feel of your text-based content within your course. Also it “cuts” the content from the document. For this reason consider working from a copy of your content file.

5. HTML block

The HTML block is an empty canvas for creating your own block. In it you can use the TinyMCE editor to add content just as you can for other resources. As a best practice make sure the content is sized appropriately to fit within the width limitations of the block.

What might you put into this block? I like to create a custom HTML block that links to key resources in the course. I simply right-click on the link to grab its location and use it as the URL. You could create something similar for support and perhaps even make it a site-wide block. Perhaps you’d like to create an Instructor block that provides your contact information email address and Twitter page or embed a video introducing yourself to the class. Most impressively you can use the HTML source icon to embed any widget that you desire.

4. The duplicate feature

When building a course we often use similar settings for an activity in order to maintain consistency in user experience and grading strategies. This is when the Duplicate feature comes in handy. Simply create the activity/resource once duplicate it customize it and move it.

You can also use this feature to create similar content resources for users in different groups release unique yet similar content for users based on restrict access settings and create course shells as a template.

However keep in mind that you cannot copy topics in Moodle™. Therefore you’ll need to copy items into each topic multiple times when creating a course shell.

3. Marking guides

I create marking guides for most of my graded assignments. I also use them frequently for grading advanced forums with the Joule Grader. This grading method allows you to store frequently use comments which I think is a timesaver for grading. In addition I like having the ability to grade within a range for each criterion. Learn more about the benefits of Moodle™ marking guide.

2. Completion tracking

In your course settings you can enable completion tracking. This basic yet powerful feature allows enrolled users to monitor progress visually from the course page. Tracking can be either manual controlled by students or automatic triggered by a student’s interaction with the activity based on the set condition(s) for completion. You can decide how it functions for each item in the course.

In addition to tracking progress the use of completion tracking allows teachers to release content based on completion of other items. This is done by configuring the activity completion condition(s) within the restrict access settings for the activity to be released. The Joule Personalized Learning Designer can trigger many different actions based on the completion of items in addition to other conditions.

I highly recommend using this feature if you aren’t already doing so. To learn more about the completion tracking feature read one of my earlier posts titled “Creating a Moodle™ Course To-Do List."

1. Lesson activity

I love the Lesson activity. This module allows course builders to avoid long scrolling pages of content add in learning check points branch based on a user’s response remediate as needed and create scenario-based interactives. In the past I’ve dedicated an entire post to the lesson module and using it to create differentiated learning experiences.

Thanks for reading! I hope you find these features as useful as I do! What are your favorites? Did I miss anything? Feel free to use the comments section below to share your favorites.

~ Rebecca Desantis, Senior Instructional Designer

Carl

Carl

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