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Moodle for teachers

By Chris Dillon. Version 4, 7 September, 2009. Latest version at: www.quickanddirty.org.uk

1.    Logging in to Moodle

Go to moodle.ucl.ac.uk in your browser and login using your UCL user ID and password. (If you do not have a UCL user ID, you may have been issued with another login and password.)

On the page that appears you will see the list of courses to which you have access. Courses with blue titles are open to students; those with grey ones are under development.

2.    Profiles, passwords and forum e-mail

Once you’ve logged in, click your name (after You are logged in as, top right), add a picture (make sure it’s square so it doesn’t get distorted!) and a short description of what you do. This is also where you can choose to receive e-mails from forums to which you are subscribed (in which case Forum auto-subscribe needs to be Yes).

3.    Logging in to your course

Click the link to the course you want to enter. You may be able to enter some courses without a key, but most courses have a key next to them and you can’t login unless a course administrator gives it to you.

Only Moodle tutors and course administrators can add the following tools; students can add content in some of them.

The following sections concern editing. First click Turn editing on (top right).

4.    Adjusting you course’s settings

You can add “blocks” of content by going to the Blocks block in the right column. It may, for example, be worth adding the Online Users block, so that students accessing the course can see which of their fellow students are online.

 Click on Settings in the administration block (usually located in the left column).

The Short name field is for the breadcrumb navigation trail of links (top left) used to navigate Moodle. The default course Format is Topics (recommended for most situations) but there are also Weekly (which creates a block for each week after the start of the course) and Social (based around a discussion) formats. It is also possible to change the number of sections in Settings.

Adding a heading or label

You can add a heading or label (to sub-categorise items within a topic) to one of the numbered sections on your homepage containing resources or activities, by clicking the edit pencil near the section’s number, adding and formatting the text and then clicking Save Changes.

Moving items

You can move most items on a course page, but not the top section of the course (above the topics / weeks sections) or the labels at the top of each section. Those items that can be moved will have one or more arrow icons showing when editing is turned on.

  • For activities and resources click the  icon next to the item you want to move.
  • Click the  icon where you want to move the item to.

For all content sections and blocks, click on the up, down or left/right arrow to move the item one position in that direction. 

5.    Adding Word and PDF files, PowerPoint presentations etc.

In the Add a resource drop-down box, select Link to a file or website. In the Name box, give the file the name you want it to display in Moodle. Click Choose or upload a file. Click Upload a file and then Browse. Locate the file and then click Open (that button may not be Open in some browsers). Click Upload this file. Don’t forget to click the Choose button next to the file! Scroll to the bottom of the next window and click Save changes.

It is important you organise your files into folder so when you start to accumulate many files you can easily find them. You should start sorting your files into folders from the day you begin using Moodle, since any files that you move will break the links you have created from the Moodle course page. You can access a file manager by clicking Files in the Administration block in the left column.

Add a resource | Display a directory displays all files in a Moodle folder, thus saving you from creating multiple links to files.

6.    Composing a simple Web page

You may want to do this to create a simple text document without having to fire up Word, or to create a list of Internet addresses.

In the Add a resource drop-down box, select Compose a web page. The Name is the name that will appear on your main course page.

Type a brief summary in the Summary box if required and then your text in the Full text box. The formatting icons work very much as in Word. To link to a website, click the Insert Web Link (chain) icon. URL should be the Internet address, copied from the address bar of your browser e.g.: http://www.bl.uk Title should be e.g. British Library. Target should be New window (to force the browser to open a new window). When you have finished, click Save Changes.

7.    Adding a link to a website

In the Add a resource drop-down box, click Link to a file or web site. In the Name box, give the website the name you want to appear on your Moodle course page. Copy the website’s address from your browser’s address bar to the Location box. Scroll down and click Save changes.

8.    Linking to a Moodle tool

You can link to most parts of Moodle from any website. Simply go to the tool in Moodle and copy the address in the address bar of your browser into the HTML editor you are using for your website. When students click on the link to the tool, they will be asked to login to Moodle.

9.    Forums

The asynchronous messaging tool is called a forum in Moodle (c.f. WebCT discussions; also known as bulletin boards).

Use the News Forum, installed by default at the top of your course’s homepage, for general announcements and reminders about assignments. By default all students and tutors on your course are subscribed to the News forum and cannot unsubscribe themselves, so they will receive an email whenever a new item is posted to the forum.

To add a forum somewhere else in your course, in the Add an activity drop-down box,
click Forum. In the Name box, give your forum a name. Change any setting defaults if necessary. Scroll down and click Save changes.

Note that it is possible to attach files to posts, and there are options to switch off student replies and for teachers or students to rate posts.

10. Calendar

To display a calendar on your homepage:

  • Click on the drop-down menu in the Blocks section on the right-hand side.
  • Choose Calendar.

You can change the location of the calendar on the screen by using the  and  buttons.

To move the calendar to the left hand side, click the  button.

Adding a calendar entry

Click on the name of the month in the calendar e.g. March 2009.

  • Click the New event button.
  • Choose to add a course event so the whole class can see it and click OK.
  • Give the entry a name and description.
  • Modify the date and time.
  • Select the duration of the event.
  • Choose whether it’s a repeating event.
  • Click the Save changes button.

11. Adding chat

The instant (synchronous) messaging tool is called chat in Moodle.

In the Add an activity drop-down box, click Chat. In the Name box, give your chatroom a name. Change any setting defaults if necessary. Chat can be scheduled — either ad hoc or at a set time each week. Set the next time in the Next chat time field. Repeat sessions can be set to
At the same time every week (which creates entries in the course calendar), but in fact chat can be used at any time. Scroll down and click Save changes.

12. Adding an assignment

Use this simple tool for anything you want to grade (electronic or not).

You can ask students/members to look at a document or web resource and then submit an assignment. This is a neat way of moving away from paper assignments.

In the Add an activity drop-down box, click Assignment. Click Online text or Upload a single file. In the Assignment name box, give it a name. Give it a description and set when it is due.. Email alerts to teachers should be switched to Yes. Choose a grading scale and select your due date. Click Save and display. You should see the assignment on your homepage. It also appears in your course calendar and in the Upcoming Events block.

Students click the link, click Browse, locate the file and then click Upload this File. Students may be able to resubmit if you allowed that in the settings. Make sure they know that a resubmission deletes the original submission.

When a student submits, you are sent an e-mail. To access student assignments, click on the link on your course’s homepage. There is a link to each student’s assignment below his/her name. Pick the grade from the drop-down list, type in your feedback and click Save all my feedback.

Students can click on the Assignment link or on the Grades link to see the grade and comment.

13. Adding a wiki

Wikis are quick and easy websites which may be edited collaboratively through a browser by a community of people. The most famous example is the www.wikipedia.com.

Think carefully about what you want to call your wiki, as it is NOT possible to change its name at a later stage!

In the Add an activity drop-down box, click Wiki. In the Name box, give your wiki a name. Scroll down and click Save changes.

To create a sub-article, just put a unique name in square brackets. When you save the article you will find a question mark after the sub-article’s name. Click the question mark, and you’re editing the new sub-article.

If you are making substantial use of a wiki, you may want to consider requesting a space and linking to the UCL Wiki at www.ucl.ac.uk/wiki as that system has better wiki functionality.

14. Choice

This tool is a quick way of getting information from students, for example identifying prior knowledge, signing up for tutorials or choosing options.

  • In the Add an activity drop-down box, select Choice.
  • Give it a name and write the question you would like answered.
  • Enter the choices available into the boxes.
  • If you want to limit the number of students per choice, change Disable to Enable and enter the limits.
  • Click Save changes.

15. Quizzes

Moodle has a user-friendly quiz tool including, for example, multiple-choice, numerical and matching question types. Quizzes may be graded.

In the Add an activity drop-down box, select Quiz.

Set the open and close dates. At the end of the Time limit, the quiz is submitted with the current answers. Each attempt builds on the last displays last time’s answers. After answering, show feedback has an option for showing students feedback and correct answers once the quiz is submitted for grading. Allow review lets students look at their past quizzes. Maximum grade is the maximum possible score in the quiz.

Create questions by clicking Create new question.

To add questions to a quiz, select them using the checkboxes and click Add to selected quiz. Set the number of points in the Grade column. This will be weighted against the total points for the quiz in the settings.

Question types:

Multiple choice — Both single- and multiple-answer questions are possible. You can add a picture. Weights can be attached to individual answers.

Numerical — Moodle has no equation editor — use a picture. Accepted error is how much over or under you will accept.

Matching — Two columns of up to ten items.

Description — Not a question; for adding text e.g. instructions to the quiz.

Random question  — Adds a random question from a category (see below) to the quiz.
Each random question can only be inserted once. If you want several, click the Create multiple questions button.

Short answer — Answers must match a word or short phrase exactly. Use underscores to indicate a blank.

Random short-answer matching — The sub-questions for the matching exercise are taken randomly from short-answer questions in the category.

Embedded answers (Cloze) — A question with multiple questions embedded. 

When creating questions, you can also put negative percentages in the grade box.

Questions may be organised into categories which can be used to share questions between courses. Click Edit categories. Yes in the Publish column makes the category available to other courses. Select Create new question in the relevant category.

To manage the quiz, click on the Quiz link in the Content block on your course’s homepage. You can delete attempts, if necessary, on the screen which appears. Click on the attempt summary to display the quiz report screen. Four reports are available, which may be downloaded into Excel.

Note that quizzes can have passwords and be restricted to IP addresses or subnets.

It is possible to import Blackboard and WebCT (multiple-choice and short-answer only) questions.

16. Databases

What an easy way to create a simple online database!

Click Add an activity and then Add a database. By default both teachers and students can add records, but you can set Participants to Teachers only, if you wish. You should probably set Require approval to Yes so that a teacher needs to approve records created by students.

Click Create a new field to add a field. Add your fields with Create a new field which offers the following types of fields: Checkbox, Date, File (used for adding e.g. Word files to records), Menu (creates a drop-down menu), Menu (Multi-select) (allows you to select more than one option by holding down Ctrl), Number, Picture, Radio buttons, Text, Text area and Url.

You can choose which field you want to sort the database by in Default sort field and sort in Ascending or Descending order.

Click on the Templates tab, set up the list of records display as you want it and click Save template. (If you add a field after this point, you will need to click on the Templates tab and click  Reset template, so that it is added to the list of records display.

17. Glossaries

Use this simple tool to create dictionaries of words or technical terms used in your course.

It is possible to hyperlink every appearance of a word in a course to a glossary entry.

The main glossary is editable only by teachers. It would normally be added to the general section at the top of a course’s homepage. Other glossaries are known as secondary glossaries.

In the Add an activity drop-down box, click Glossary.

Global means accessible to all courses. You have to be a system administrator to do this.

Students can add [and edit] entries applies only to secondary glossaries. These can be imported into the main glossary.

Duplicated entries allowed refers to multiple entries for one word.

If comments are allowed, they are available through a link at the bottom of the definition. Automatically link glossary entries creates a highlighted link from the word throughout the course to its glossary entry. Approved by default is for when you allow students to add entries.
If this is set to No, the teacher has to approve them.

Display format:

Switch on Show alphabet so that the alphabet is displayed for easier browsing. Show all would show all of the entries together. Allow entries to be rated allows you or students to grade entries. You can also set a date range. Import glossaries refers to glossaries in the present or other courses. Export entries exports to a file in the course’s files area.

When creating an entry, add any synonyms, one on each line, in the Keyword(s) field.

You can attach a picture or article. There is also an option for linking an individual entry to its occurrences in the course.

To split the glossary into categories, click Browse by category, Edit categories and Add category.

When you export a glossary, right-click (Apple: Ctrl-click) on the Exported file link and save the file locally. You can then use Import entries to import the file. Duplicate entries will not be imported if this isn't allowed in the settings.

18. Journals

Journals encourage reflection and formal thought as students study. They can be a private (viewable only by instructor and student) and safe space to explore new knowledge.

In the Add an activity drop-down box, click Journal.

If you are going to grade the journal as an assignment, select the grading scale. Students can see only one journal entry per journal assignment. If you want multiple journal entries, you need to add several journals.

Each journal entry has an area where you can type feedback and a drop-down menu of choices if you have enabled grading in the settings.

19. Releasing your course to students

  • In your course, go to Settings | Availability and switch it to This course is available to students.
  • Set the key (simple password) for your course on the same screen under Enrolment key. Students can then enrol themselves on your course if they login to Moodle, click the course and enter the key.

N.B. It is not possible to release a course in development to students — change the Category in Settings to Current courses etc.

N.B. Teachers cannot add students without UCL user IDs to courses — approach a Moodle administrator.

20. Groups

Use this tool if you want to break a class down into groups.

  • On the Peoples menu in the top left-hand corner, click on Groups.
  • Turn editing on.
  • In the small text box at the bottom of the page, type the name of your first group.
  • Click Add new group.
  • Do the same thing for the rest of your groups.
  • Under groups, highlight your first group
  • On the left-hand side should be a list of all your students
  • Hold down Ctrl and click on all the students that should be in the first group.
  • Then click Add to group.
  • Repeat this for your other groups

Using Groups

  • Turn editing on.
  • Next to each resource, there is a series of icons. The little person on the end is the group’s icon.
  • If only one person is showing, click it.
  • The ‘one person’ icon becomes two, showing groups have been turned on for that resource.
  • Going into that resource, you now find the group menu in the top left hand corner.
  • Select a group for only information relevant for that group to become visible.

Examples: If you wanted to start a discussion for just one group, select the group from the groups menu and add a new discussion (as normal). If you are marking an assignment, select a group for only the submissions of that group to be visible.

21. Further information