Moodle Blog

Review of Moodle Gradebook by Rebecca Barrington

I’d long thought there was a need for a manual on using Moodle’s Gradebook. While some people find its latest incarnation unneccessarily complicated, others love its huge range of features and with the advent of Conditional Activities in 2.0 and rubrics in 2.2, it will open up more possibilities to more Moodlers. So I have been looking forward to the publication of  Packtpub’s Moodle Gradebook by South Devon College’s Rebecca Barrington whom I met at the Irish/UK Moodle Moot in Dublin last week. While I can use the gradebook to an acceptable degree, I am one of those numerophobes for whom any mention of terms such as “aggregation” “normalisation” or even “forumalae” have me quivering – so I hoped this book would quell my fears and explain grading essentials in clear terms. I was not disappointed.

Chapter 1 gives us a basic introduction to the gradebook, how to access it, which activities work with it and how to organise grades and then Chapter 2 explains in more detail customising grades for our purposes within a course. What is useful is that the author is aware teachers reading the book probably won’t have admin control, so where features need to be enabled -such as Outcomes – she points the reader in the direction of the admin settings so they can pass on the information. We learn how to tweak the gradebook’s default letter grades for instance to suit  Pass/Merit/Distinction requirements, and there is a useful section on the aforementioned Outcomes, something I feel has a lot of potential, but which I have rarely seen well used.

In Chapter 3 we learn how to allocate Scales and Outcomes to graded activities such as assignments. We learn the difference between Simple Direct grading and Rubrics, a new feature for Moodle 2.2 (It’s worth pointing out here that although the book is written for Moodle 2.2, a lot of it applies to earlier versions of Moodle 2 and 1.9 as well) The section on Advanced grading is clearly set out and helpful to those for whom this added functionality is a real boon – and that’s a lot of us! Finally we look at adding grades directly to the Gradebook rather than via an assignment. This is also helpful, as I’ve realised when doing intermediate or advanced training that users are not always aware they are able to do this.

Having set up assignments, we are then shown how to grade them in Chapter 4 with a clear explanation of the different display options to make the Gradebook easier to manage. Until now I was quite comfortable with what was going on: it was Chapter 5, Using Calculations that for me made the book worth the money (I bought my own copy so I am an unbiased reviewer!) I feel now much more confident about the processes of aggregation and normalisation  and especially appreciated having several  examples to follow.

Chapter 6 explains how to organise grades into categories, something else that it’s important to show new users from the start so they don’t end  up with long cluttered lists of grades, and also so they can have different aggregation types within one course. I was  pleased as well to read about how to exclude assessments from the final grade as this is another query that is often raised on the help forums of Moodle.org

Groups and reports are dealt with in Chapter 7.  Filtering  by groups  is another Must, especially if you have a course with several classes and shared by several teachers. I appreciated also having the different reports explained. Reports are one of Moodle’s strong points and judicious use of the information they provide can assist in monitoring and improving the progress of our students. Another plus is that the Gradebook data can be exported and then played around with in, for instance, Excel. I always make a point of mentioning this to newbie Moodlers as well as it  can be reassuring to realise that your grades aren’t stuck on the internet – they can be downloaded, manipulated more and even printed off. You can also import grades.

Finally, Chapter 8 outlines how to set a pass grade (very useful!) and then goes through the new Moodle 2 features of Activity and Completion tracking and Course Completion, including helpful screenshots of the teacher view and student view.

The book is available in Moodle’s Books Database and if you buy it from there, a percentage  of the sales go to the Moodle Trust, so you will be supporting Moodle. Becky’s final words at the end of the book are: I really hope that you have found this book useful Yes thankyou Becky – I did – and so will those who buy it!

Dieser Beitrag wurde am Thursday, 12. April 2012 um 11:00 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 Comment »

  1. Thank you for the review Mary! I am glad that the book made sense! I am particularly pleased that you think that chapter 5 was useful as the subject is probably the most complex but ultimately the most informative.

    Comment: Becky Barrington – 12. April 2012 @ 1:47 pm

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