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Supporting innovation in teaching, learning and learner development at Roehampton

My first MoodleMoot! – London 2016

MoodleMoot London 24th-25th March 2016 –

I was fortunate enough to attend my very first MoodleMoot in London at the end of March this year and had a fantastic time listening to many interesting presentations, learning about new plugins and changes, and meeting so many interesting people from all over the globe.

Moot2016_2

Here is a photo of Janice and I meeting the Moodle founder himself, Martin Dougiamas.  Janice has already shared some of her experiences of MoodleMoot 2016 (http://roehamptonlearning.com/moodlemoot-2016-24th-march-2016/).  However, since we attended different presentation sessions over the two days, here are my reflections.

Gavin Henrick’s Keynote speech at the very end of the conference outlined the exciting road ahead: – introducing the Moodle Academy, a centralised MOOC hosting platform which will be run and hosted by Moodle HQ and will allow all institutions to try out a MOOC; and the continuing development of the Moodle Mobile App which will enhance the student experience significantly and will allow staff to set up interactive response activities dynamically displaying the results on a screen, amongst other things.

Stop Press – Keynotes
The four keynote recordings from the Moot have just been released and are now available on moodle.com/news/

 

Content of Post

Presentations on 25th March:

 

Presentations on 24th March:

Keynote: Gavin Henrick – Moodle in 2016

Gavin Henrick (Community Projects Manager at Moodle HQ)

A poll using the Moodle Choice activity revealed that the majority of users at this Keynote presentation are using Moodle 2.8 and most plan to update to Moodle 3.0 this summer 2016. Most of the users polled here today also plan to use the Moodle Mobile app in the near future.

 

No need for clickers here! – use the Moodle Choice activity to set up an interactive response in a teaching session.

Gavin provided an excellent demonstration on the usefulness of the Moodle choice activity for audience response – users could access it using either the Moodle Mobile App or the mobile web interface of Moodle – the ‘real time’ information was displayed in a dynamic graph on the screen. Gavin stated that this type of real time report would appear in Moodle Core quite soon without it requiring a web-service.

  • This is definitely a feature I will be testing when we move to Moodle 3.0!

Moodle Mobile App

Gavin went on to say how he envisages mobile learning will be increasingly utilised in education.  Mobile is currently being used for messaging and consumption – notifications, calendar events and course Announcements  – all of which are being continuously improved.  Gavin suggests that using mobile for activities will bring it to the next level.

There would need to be a focus on course structure and course content  –  with an emphasis on mobile friendly courses.  Students would download all resources when attached to a network and then study off line so that they can work whenever/wherever.

 

Offline / Online – different feature sets on the current Mobile App:

This is being continuously improved by Moodle Core developers and is set to change the whole student experience once introduced.  See the screenshot below which shows the feature summary table.  You can see what is currently available online/offline and what features will become available offline.

 

Mobile feature summary

 

Customising a Mobile App for our institution

It will be possible to customize the Moodle Mobile App Service – brand it to our institution name. There will be a simplified login to our site – a seamless experience – users will go direct to our Moodle site without having to add in a URL (as in the normal mobile app). The Moodle Mobile team, in liaison with Moodle Partners, will be able to advise institutions on what they need to do and also work with the partner to offer a service to publish and maintain the App. There will be an initial setup fee and a yearly fee for a bi-monthly update.

 

Moodle Academy

Moodle HQ are launching Moodle Academy: a centralised MOOC hosting platform – ran and hosted by Moodle HQ and Moodle Partners. Institutions can use this software as a solution to run MOOC’s in a cost effective way. It is expected to become available in May/June 2016.

Each institution will have their own landing page.

Moodle HQ and partners will help institutions optimise their courses.

Completion tracking built into ‘My courses’ area of Moodle (with percentages) and within each section of course.

Different dashboard and different profile interface – more MOOC like environment. Modern sleek type of layout – icons rather than words etc.

Comment block in Moodle will behave more like Twitter/Facebook (top posting comments rather than bottom posting).

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Presentations on Thursday 25th March:

 

Trialling the My Feedback report at UCL

Jessica Gramp and Matt Smith

Very useful plugin which I have already tested on our Moodle Sandpit area with a view to introducing it to Production in the new academic year. This plugin, developed by UCL and shared with the Moodle community, allows students and staff to easily view grades and feedback across the Moodle courses they are enrolled on in one central place. Great for increasing visibility of feedback to students and staff. Can add a link to the My Feedback report to a HTML block on the student’s My Home page.

It shows feedback for Moodle Assignments (including offline and group), Turnitin Assignments (link only), Quizzes, and Workshops (for peer assessments). Students can reflect by adding notes to this page. The screen also indicates when a student has viewed the feedback.

The developers have piloted the plugin with some students this year and aim to fully rollout the plugin to all students in the new academic year. The student feedback from the pilot study has been positive. The developers are currently working on producing a Personal Tutor and Programme Administrator view (all students within their department). Suggested by students (and under review at present) are filters for summative and formative assessments, performance scores (relative to class mean), and an assessment calendar (to enable assessment dates to be spaced out).

 

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The potential for using Moodle to deliver the content, facilitation, assessment and reporting of a MOOC

Gavin Henrick, Michael de Raadt, Eamon Costello

Gavin examined whether Moodle is a suitable platform for hosting and delivering a MOOC.  If you have read Gavin’s keynote address you will already know what he thinks, since Moodle HQ are launching the Moodle Academy MOOC hosting platform.

Worth checking out Moodle HQ’s own MOOC https://learn.moodle.net/ – a free 4 week course designed for anybody who wants to use the Moodle learning platform for teaching.

Gavin outlined the main features that people want in a MOOC – bite-sized content (so students are not overwhelmed), conditional activity / completion tracking (so students can manage time and remain engaged with the whole experience), a badge/certificate at the end of the course.  He also mentioned the importance of reporting and analytics which would help the facilitator of the MOOC intervene when activity levels drop off and students appear to be disengaged.

Gavin’s concludes to say one of the main reasons to use a MOOC in teaching is to help drive innovation.  He suggests that it is worth the ‘marketing spend’ – a sound business case can be made to get students to come to your university after doing one of your MOOC’s.

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Moodle plugins used by the community

Michael de Raadt

Interesting presentation about a Moodle HQ survey conducted to gather more information about the use of Moodle Plugins (both standard and additional) by the worldwide community. The main aim of the survey was to focus development efforts, but it also showed how plugins are used across educational sectors.

Plugin types covered were activity modules, blocks, course formats, question types, text filters, enrolment and authentication methods, reports repositories and portfolios.

Results were gained through 353 responses from community members worldwide, across educational sectors.

A current Moodle Tracker (MDL-51977 – https://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-51977) for instance has been created, as a result of this research, and is looking at changing the default course blocks to match usage (Calendar and Activities are one of the most popular blocks so should be added as default, whereas Upcoming events and Search forums should be removed).

The Certificate plugin https://moodle.org/plugins/mod_certificate (allows for the dynamic generation of certificates based on predefined conditions set by the teacher) is popular  – developed and maintained by Moodle HQ.

The Progress Bar block is a high use additional plugin and the Moodle Users Association has voted for this to be developed further.

A report on the survey is available here.

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Improving Turnitin Inductions with Moodle and Open Badges

Aurélie Owens, Sam Taylor

Cranfield University require all students to submit coursework to Turnitin.  Students have to undertake an induction at the start of their studies in order to get an overview of the tool and go through the process of submitting a document.  Upon course completion, and successful completion of an online quiz focusing on Turnitin terminology and functionality, with a pass mark set high deliberately, they are awarded an Open Badge.  The badge then appears on the students’ profile and indicates to the teacher who has completed the Turnitin training.

These inductions have resulted in no student referrals from the plagiarism panel since September 2015 and less queries to Learning Services about Turnitin.  More students have also been requesting feedback from academics and this has highlighted some discrepancies in advice given to students by academics.

 

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Presentations on Wednesday 24th March:

 

Creating Moodle Mobile remote themes

Juan Leyva and Daniel Palou

Creating Moodle Moodle Mobile supports custom themes for your specific site by changing a setting and creating a custom style sheet (CSS file) that will be used for styling your app.

You can achieve this without having to compile or create a custom version of the Mobile app.Mobile remote themes

Can change the top bars and add a corporate colour / background colour, and can have different styles for site menu or content.

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Challenges and successes in developing an XML-based content creation system for multiple-format delivery via Moodle

Ian Blackham, Steve Rycroft, Sam Marshall

Interesting presentation by the Open University about their in-house solution – an XML-based content creation system which is tightly integrated with Moodle and enables simple authoring of platform-agnostic learning materials (e.g. HTML for web, ePub for offline digital, PDF for print, etc.) This provides flexible and accessible learning options for students.

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What do you mean you don’t roll over at the end of the year?!

Roger Emery

Interesting to hear about another approach to the administrative ‘end of year’ roll over and archive process.  Three years’ worth of courses are kept on the same Moodle site.  The academic year when the module ran is deemed irrelevant since module start/end dates are more important.  The Moodle short name / course ID is made up of the module code and the ‘instance code’ (which controls enrolments and ensures that students are enrolled to the correct version of the module.  At the start of each academic year a new iteration of the module is created automatically from a template.  Tutors have ownership and import relevant content across from the previous iteration themselves.

Pros:
Student demand to be able to revisit materials; Auditing and appeals evidence; Ease of access for teaching staff; Supports delivery not aligned to academic year

Cons:
Since 3 years’ worth of modules are maintained, tutors pages may take long to load; Still need to do housekeeping!

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From Itch to Integration – getting changes into Moodle core

Davo Smith

Useful outline of how new features, improvements or bug fixes move from being just ideas and into new code in the next version of Moodle.

How are new features added?

  1. Example of an ‘itch’:-

On the page Course settings > Users > Group > Overview
At the the moment there are two overview sections ‘groupings’ and ‘not in a grouping’.  But there’s no hint who of the students are not in a group. They are not displayed. We would like to have a third section [not in a group] who displays the group ‘no group’. In there, there should be all participants listed that are in no group.

  1. Tracker ticket created – MDL-50647 (https://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-50647)
  2. Gather interest in the forums
  3. Vote on the Tracker ticket to raise issue profile
  4. Developer starts work on the issue and works with Moodle code guidelines
  5. Automated testing takes place
  6. Patch provided (via Github)
  7. Patch gets automatic checks
  8. Peer review takes place
  9. Developer makes further changes
  10. Patch put forward for integration review
  11. Added to the Integration Repository
  12. Decision is made on whether to backport the patch
  13. Further automated and manual tests performed
  14. Tracker ticket resolution marked as ‘fixed’ and closed
  15. Moodle docs updated
  16. New feature becomes part of the next Moodle release

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Fill in the gaps question types for mere Mortals

Marcus Green

Useful presentation on the Gapfill question type.

The Moodle core Cloze (Embedded answer) question type (https://docs.moodle.org/28/en/Embedded_Answers_(Cloze)_question_type) has a complex syntax that is difficult to learn even for experienced programmers.  Marcus has devised the “Gapfill Question’ type which is a Cloze question type with VERY simple question creation syntax.  With this tool you can create questions that include gaps that should be left blank in order to get a mark, which as Marcus says “…is either sneaky or a rigorous test of student knowledge.”  This question type is useful for the creation of categorisations questions, i.e. drag the options into tables which have category headings.  Also useful for questions which require the creation of gaps that can take multiple values – e.g. color or colour can be acceptable in the same gap.  More information:- https://docs.moodle.org/28/en/Gapfill_question_type

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A Moodle Usability Study

Michael de Raadt

In August 2015, members of the Moodle community, including staff from Moodle HQ, were involved in a usability study hosted by the University of Minnesota. Using state-of-the-art facilities the study was able to closely observe the actions of users who represented a range of abilities. Participants were asked to complete a set of basic teacher tasks that were suggested by community members. The study was revealing and identified improvements that could be made in the user interface for course sections and organisation, messaging, navigation, user lists and more.

Michael presented outlined the study and improvements that have begun to filter down to Moodle core as a result e.g. the renaming of the News Forum to “Announcements” in newer versions; making the adding of a photo to your profile more obvious; fixing the “Messaging” to indicate when messages have not been sent etc.

For a report on the Usability Study see:- https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=316811#p1278994

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