Moodle Blog

Review of Moodle as a Curriculum and Information Management System

I’ve been reading Packt’s Moodle as a Curriculum and Information Management System by Jason Hollowell聽 with a great deal of interest, and I have learned a lot. This book isn’t like the other Moodle books: we don’t learn how to set assignments for our geography students, how to manage forums for our First Aid course -indeed – the book’s not really about using Moodle in teaching. Instead, it focuses on using Moodle from a school administrator’s point of view, to check attendance, gather together grades, maintain an informatin portal – and -well, what it says in the title really! Coming at Moodle from the teacher and teacher-administrator angle, I found it a refreshing read. Taking a chapter at a time :

Chapter 1 sets the scene and has the reader (who has to be an administrator with access to the server) installing the necessary plugins used in the book.聽 Jason suggests the My Courses block, which gives a neater appearance to a user’s list of courses, the Attendance module and a very popular theme useful for those using Moodle as an information portal –聽 Aardvark Pro. (At this point, it’s worth pointing out that these modules and the local host Moodle install suggested for working through the book are all based on 1.9; eventually the modules will be updated to 2.0;聽 various Aardvark themes already are, and most of the book’s philosophy still applies to 2.0 )

Chapter 2 has us setting up our categories and adding some accounts, making use of another Moodle “extra”, the Bulk Course upload tool. I haven’t used this but I have heard of it and it sounds a real boon – it allows you to create hundreds of customised courses (and their categories) on your Moodle simply by a CSV upload, rather than manually going in and doing it yourself. (Jason created 80 courses in 1.57 seconds!) You can read Chapter 2 as a sample chapter by clicking here.

In Chapter 3 we tackle adding students via CSV and look at enrolment plugins, meaning that by Chapter 4 we are ready to start implementing our establishment’s standard policies and procedures. I found this the most interesting chapter because Jason goes into depth about the attendance module – how to set it up in a template course, incorporating your own attendance policies, and then how to ensure this聽 attendance template is imported and used across the board by all your teachers. He then does the same with the gradebook – setting a standard grading scale and submission process for an聽 example end of year exam , that will be applied consistently in every course. He then uses聽 a metacourse to check the attendance of all students taking this final examination.

Chapter 5 focuses on the Information portal side and suggests various tweaks to the code聽 to improve the appearance of the front page (in terms of categories and course for example) and we are introduced to Content Pages, another plugin (accessible via the tracker in this case) which assists in the presentation聽 of useful information. We also get to customise the drop down menu of the Aardvark theme and change the logo.

Chapter 6 introduces the concept of customised r么les. R么les and permissions are veeeerrry complex in Moodle, and to his credit and to the reader’s advantage, Jason does not labour over every nuance. Once you have read this book- a Beginner’s Guide – you will not have magicked into an expert on聽 r么les, permissions, capabilities or even Moodle admin per se –聽 but you will be able to do exactly what you need to do to set up your institution as a Curriculum and Information Management System. We learn about 4 r么les – a restricted student r么le , an assistant admin r么le (ie one who can post on the front page etc, not a “Moodle admin”, an adminstrative monitor r么le (like a聽 Moderator or Inspector for instance) and a Parent/tutor/student mentor r么le.

Chapter 7 had me struggling a bit but that is because I am not a database/query person – we learn about the Enhanced聽 User Admin block (which I have to say I like the look of very much ) and how to set up and install the Xataface database application. (You might be realising by now that Moodle, on its own, is not really a Curriculum and Information Management System, but with add-ons and tweaks as we learn in this book, it can be made to do an extremely good job -and entirely free of charge!)

Having done that in the previous chapter, in Chapter 8 we then get to use Moodle as a (quote) mini-SIS or Student Information System. This is fascinating especially when you consider all the work going into trying to get Moodle to work with commercial systems such as SIMS. We look at two different methods of doing this – via custom user profile fields and the use of the Xataface database ‘backside’ application. I think what you end up with is quite limited – as in “mini” – but definitely worth investigation.

Chapter 9 looks at the management of forums and installation of the Questionnaire module聽 for internal communication and collaboration while finally in Chapter 10 Jason takes us through the Registration Enrolment Plugin, a module maintained by the author himself. It enables us to set conditions upon a student’s enrolment into courses – for example, to limit the number of courses, limit the number in a group, allow some to enrol ahead of time and restrict enrolment to certain conditions (based on additional聽 fields in the user’s profile) This would be a聽 really valuable tool in institutions with different enrolment needs throughout the year.

Useful to know too is that if you are starting out with Moodle and want to play, then once you have downloaded your own Moodle 1.9 install, the CSV files for this book are available on Packts’s website for you to use, to save making your own. All in all -a聽 readable book with a different “take” on Moodle 馃檪

Dieser Beitrag wurde am Saturday, 22. January 2011 um 13:54 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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