Moodle Blog

Online Exercise Books in Moodle

All our ICT classes are run entirely on Moodle. While the older students upload evidence of their work for their exams, it was felt that the younger students – in Years 7 and 8 – who do not take external exams, needed some form of online exercise journal – or exercise book –  to show their progress from lesson to lesson. I’ve been pondering this for a while. Whatever we used had to meet certain criteria:

  • it has to be very simple for young pupils to be able to use
  • it has to allow them to upload and display screenshots of their work in an intuitive way
  • it has to be quick for the teacher to zip throught the class of students checking their progress.
  • it had to allow for teacher feedback

We rejected:

  1. Moodle assignments. These are used for specific, end of unit pieces of work or homework that are graded. This online exercise book is just for pupils to keep a record and teachers to check how they’re doing. We didn’t need the formality of an assignment, added to which, with one or two lessons of ICT a week, they’d have needed a lot of assignments.
  2. Moodle’s wiki. This would appear to be the most obvious choice as a wiki allows for each student to have their own personal space to communicate with their teacher. Indeed, we’ve used wikis before as private revision booklets where older students create pages for each exam subject and add their own revision notes. However, the big minus was that – short of uploading to and linking from, say Flickr, it is not possible for students to display images. And the Flickr option would have been one step too far and would have taken us out of the safety of Moodle
  3. Moodle database or Moodle glossary. While these would tick some of the necessary boxes,such as allowing students to attach screenshots of, say, their latest Powerpoint (aargh), it was felt they would not be particularly user friendly to younger and less able pupils.

We have trialled:

  1. Moodle’s blogs. We haven’t disregarded these at all -we are using them with Y7 but with some reservations. The pluses are that they are very simple for pupils to use. They can attach screenshots as jpgs that go straight into the blog and it is easy for the teacher to add a comment and then for the pupils  to continue the blog next lesson with a new post..etc etc… However… a Moodle blog is not attached to a course; it is attached to a user and this means that if they use their blog for ICT they cannot use it for any other subject. At the moment this is not an issue but if other subjects such as English wish to make use of the blog facility, that could cause problems. (This is where Mahara will come in useful!) Another consideration was that students could see each others’  blogs and perhaps copy. I changed that in the permissions, although it was never a real problem since it would have been no different from their sneaking a look at each others’ exercise books anyway. The major minus was that, in theory, the children have the ability to edit their teacher’s comments – they haven’t bless them,  but they could, and some teachers felt uneasy about this. I couldn’t find a way to disable this and still enable them to continue posting so… we are continuing with blogs at the moment but I have found another way.

We are going to try individual student forums. Advantages: ticks all the boxes – very easy for pupils to use as they use Moodle forums all the time; easy to attach screenshots; teachers can post feedback but students cannot edit it; they can only see their own forum and not view anyone else’s so no copying. We could even , if we wished, set it up to be graded. Disadvantages: It is hellishly time consuming to set up as you have to make an individual group for every single pupil -and of course, the trial class had to have 33 year 8s in it! The same message has to be posted to each of the students as they each have their own forum – so that’s 33 messages in 33 groups. Another consideration was that previously all teachers in that year group were able to view all classes for moderation purposes/consistency of marking. This was not going to work anymore as it would be unfair for teachers of one set only to have to scroll through 33 students who aren’t their own each time they marked work. So , with some compromises made and some judicious use of  separate groups and groupings, it is looking promising. The other students outside the trial are not even aware the student forums exist as they are only visible to the trial class and their teacher. The other teachers do not see the 33 new ‘groups’ in their drop down set list, but the head of department can still keep an eye on all classes. So far so good…now to see how it works!

Dieser Beitrag wurde am Friday, 16. January 2009 um 23:48 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Moodle abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen. Du hast die Möglichkeit einen Kommentar zu hinterlassen, oder einen Trackback von deinem Weblog zu senden.

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  1. Hmm, seems like something which would fit well with mahara.

    But regarding the time-consuming nature, could you not use the auto-create groups feature setting each group as 1 member per group without much effort?

    Comment: Dan Poltawski – 16. January 2009 @ 11:59 pm

  2. Good to read about your efforts here.

    I wish that I could get my maths classes on-line. Tow stumbling blocks.
    1. We are nowhere near a one-to-one school yet so computer time is very difficult to manage.
    2. Finding a way for middle school kids to get mathematical symbols on screen quickly, easily and in an easily editable form.

    I am not a moodle person yet but am getting there. Keep up the great work. I am watching with interest.

    Comment: Russel Montgomery – 17. January 2009 @ 12:28 am

  3. yes, Mahara would fit the bill very well in this respect. Auto-create groups – good idea! Still have to make 33 forums though but that’s a quick copy and paste text. Thanks.

    Comment: Mary – 17. January 2009 @ 1:30 am

  4. Hi Mary
    Interesting points that we have been thinking about too. We used wikis for a course diary with a similar requirement to your situation – students can upload images (plus word docs etc) direct to the wiki if binary files are allowed in wiki settings but the process is pretty clumsy. Overall looking for a better option, so individual forums + auto-groups sounds like a great idea (thanx Dan).

    A couple of things not clear to me from you post though Mary.

    1. Are you really saying you need to create 33 separate forums? Can’t you just use 1 with separate groups applied?
    2. Can you clarify what you mean when you say “The same message has to be posted to each of the students as they each have their own forum”? If this is some sort of directive message rather than a conversation starter then not selecting a group when you post to the forum means all students can see it, just not reply to it.

    Comment: David Sturrock – 20. January 2009 @ 11:11 am

  5. Hi David
    Yes; what put me off about enabling binary files in wikis was precisely its clumsiness- we didn’t want to have to give students an added extra to deal with as well as the task itself. They are used to uploading to Moodle and so the forum attachment should cause them no problems.
    Sorry if I was misleading about the individual forums/fora – I did mean what you said – one forum in separate groups -but the reason I posted the message in everyone’s group is a ‘control’ issue: if as you suggested I’d just posted it once for them to read but not be able to respond to, they’d have then had to ‘start a new discussion topic’ to post their work. And I didn’t want them to be able to do that as it could have resulted in their posting new discussion topics each time – which would have untidied the teacher’s view and would spoil the continuity of the ‘online exercise book’. (In fact if I recall I might even have disabled their ability to start a new discussion topic altogether.) I wanted them to reply to my initial post and then carry on the dialogue in one single post over the course of the weeks. So not an essential requirement, just personal preference.

    Comment: Mary – 20. January 2009 @ 6:41 pm

  6. I haven’t seen any mention of the Moodle Journal module. Have you tried that? You won’t have to mess with the 1 user per group or the 30 individual forums. Students can track their progress in individual journal entries that they can continually edit as long as the assignment is available. All of the common editing features are available so the uploading of images would also still be available.

    Comment: Lesley Coe – 06. February 2009 @ 2:33 am

  7. Hi Lesley
    Yes, I did consider the Journal module but had to discard it early on because, although you are correct that they can add images, they can’t (AFAIK) actually upload images. Students have to reference an external url of an image instead – which is do-able but a) we don’t want them going outside of Moodle into the likes of flickr and b)it would cause extra complications where we want to keep it as simple as poss for young children.

    Comment: Mary – 06. February 2009 @ 11:39 am

  8. Hi there, interesting post.

    I’m looking into something similar at the moment. As well as teaching ICT, I’m a part time web developing geek so I’m even considering developing a bespoke application (but I’d prefer not to!)

    Any updates on your progress?

    Comment: Andrew Clarke – 09. June 2010 @ 8:56 am

  9. very good!!!

    Comment: =)ikhwan – 12. June 2010 @ 12:33 am

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