• First steps

    The best place to start is with Moodle Level 1 Certification

    This section gives you a quick overview of what is covered in the course.

    You have a separate Moodle course for each of your classes. Email smh@pakuranga.school.nz if you need a course that does not yet exist.

    Moodle courses all get 10 topics, which normally correspond to the modules/standards that you teach. You need to give the topics titles and you have the option of adding some text.

    1. Go to your course.
    2. "Turn Editing on" (look for the button top right of the page)
    3. Click the settings icon for Topic 1
    4. Untick the "Use Default Heading" box and type in a descriptive heading. If your module relates to an NZQA standard, then use the AS number as part of the title. Save.
    5. You can add information in the box. Make sure it is relevant and useful, and not just there for the sake of it.
    Here's a short video demonstrating a typical set up of a course from scratch, with topics, resources, embedded videos and even setting an assignment. All in 10 minutes!

  • What Moodle Does

    Moodle is Pakuranga College's Learning Management System. It provides a consistent online location for your students to interact with you. Typically you use Moodle to provide a variety of electronic resources to students, and for students to submit work electronically.

    Beyond the basics of simply providing resources to students, Moodle has some more advanced activities in which students can construct knowledge and interact with each other online.

    Moodle is used by vast numbers of people worldwide, and has a huge community of people developing its capabilities. Used well, it is a powerful tool for learning.

    Basic techniques include:
    • Organising your courses
    • Uploading resources
    • Embedding videos
    • Setting assignments
    • Using checklists
    Advanced techniques include
    • Using Forums
    • Using Wikis
    • Using Databases and Glossaries
    • Creating quizzes
    • Using badges

    If you've already made a good start with Moodle, you may want to look at tidying and redesigning existing pages. To access resources to help with this, click here

  • Uploading files

    The first step for most courses is to upload a few resources. Revision materials, extension materials, useful links etc.

    Uploading is mostly done with drag/drop. Like this:
  • Embedding videos

    You can just add a link to a YouTube video. Often, it is better to include the video on your course page. The video below shows you how.

    If you have lots of videos that are making your page very long ("The Scroll Of Death"), you can put each video into a separate page, just like the videos below.

    A quick-and-easy but powerful way to present content is to record a screencast of yourself. This is great for students who learn at different paces, and as a resource to be available at revision time. The video below shows you one very easy way to do this.

  • Assignments

    You want students to submit work electronically. Paper is SO last century. If you use Moodle "Assignments" for this, you can download all submitted work in one click, and see at a glance who hasn't submitted work.

    • Mostly, you only need an "Upload a Single file" assignment.
    • When creating a task, you only really need to adjust 2 things: the due date, and the text which will be displayed
    • If you are "grading" online, you also need to set it to use NCEA N-A-M-E grades
    Here's a video, which shows how quick and simple it is to add an assignment:
  • Checklists

    The "checklist" resource provides a way for students and staff to monitor progress through a unit of work, as in the example below:

    checklist example
    Checklists are way easy to make. See the short video below for a demo.
    Try the checklist below to get a feel for how it could be used in your subject
  • Pages

    A "Page" is a place to put content in Moodle. It can contain text, images and embedded video.

    If you have content in a Word document that you want to share with students, the easiest thing to do is always to drag it onto your page, but this can be awkward for students to view, especially if they're using a tablet or phone. Pasting this content into a page is a more accessible way to present the content.

    • The Wiki Module

      The Moodle Wiki activity has improved a lot recently, and now has comparable functionality to Wikispaces. However, Wikis[aces is much slicker and better looking.

      If you are the kind of teacher who uses Wikis, then you're probably going to be happier in a Wikispace than in a Moodle Wiki. But it may be a "Quick 'n' Dirty" way to do Wiki-based tasks.

      Use the "help" button on the Wiki page to view information about Wiki markup. You need this if you are going to create sub pages on your Wiki.

      • Glossaries

        The glossary is a great tool for co-constructing knowledge because of 2 key attributes

        • Students can add entries
        • Anyone can comment on entries.
        The students are often the content-creators, but within a nice tight structure - you create a heading, and then you and the students build up the content related to that heading.
        With a bit of imagination, there is potential to do lots of collaboration and co-construction. If you have some key concepts in your subject, a glossary can be used to build "student-speak" definitions and explanations. If there are key people in your subject area that students need to learn about, a glossary can be used to build the information about them. Anything where the discussion can be broken down into relatively discrete topics is fair game for a glossary.
        There are some ideas in the "Glossary of glossary ideas" section below - I downloaded this file from somewhere, and imported it. 
      • The "Quiz" module

        It is time-consuming to create good quiz questions. But once the questions have been created, they can be stored in a categorised question bank and are a valuable resource for everyone in the department.

        Once questions are in a question bank, it is a very quick job for any staff member to use them in a quiz, for homework, revision, lesson-starters or whatever.If you are going to the trouble of making a quiz, you should try to make a good one, and then share the questions in a question bank

        Also, if someone else in the wider Moodle community is sharing the questions they have created, you can import them for immediate use.
        If you are interested in starting a question bank for your faculty contact me (Charlie) and I will show you what I have done in Maths and Science.
      • The choice Module

        If you want to "gather student voice" in a really basic but quick and easy way, consider using the "choice" activity. It can look like this:

        • Forums

          Forums are easy to create, but making them work well for learning requires quite lot of thought and planning. The justification for making a forum is often as follows:

          • A desire to promote student engagement
          • A desire to give the "quiet kids" an opportunity to be heard
          • A desire for students to discuss and develop their own understanding and opinions
          • A desire for students' thinking to be challenged, and for them to engage with each others learning

          Successful forums depend on three things:

          • Clear learning intentions
          • Well thought out starter topics
          • A strong teacher presence
        • Feedback tool

          The feedback tool is a great way of gathering info from students. A lot of staff use Google Forms for similar functionality - the advantages of using Moodle Feedback are as follows:

          • It is integrated into Moodle; no questions about how to access it
          • You can save your feedback questions as a template. Useful if a faculty wants a consistent format used, also means you can re-use your hard work from the first time around.

          It still does the nice little graphs and analysis that Google Forms does

        • Google Docs

          Students who have iPads can struggle to upload files to Moodle.

          The easiest answer is for them to do their work in Google Documents (they all have a Google Docs account that comes with their e-mail) and upload directly from there.

          • Gamification badges

            Some research has shown that "Gamification" of learning can be very engaging for some students. The jury is still out on the overall effectiveness, but if you want to try it, here's how. This is a bit fiddly to set up, so there will also be a video tutorial.

            The idea is that students get Achievements/Badges for completing various Moodle activities. "Achievements" are a common part of computer and console gaming. They can be given for serious business (completed the game) and also for stupid/jokey things. 

            Badge management is accessed using from the Administration/Settings menu on the left of your Moodle page. 

            To create badges, you need a badge image. Make your badge images at https://www.openbadges.me/ 

            Once you have created a badge, you probably want it to be awarded when an activity is completed. To do this, go to the settings of the relevant activity and choose relevant settings under "Activity Completion"

            • Workshop module

              In a workshop, students submit work, then evaluate each others' work. It is a good "peer assessment" tool. The "peer assessment" can be set so that students are randomly allocated, or manually selected by teachers.

              Setting up a workshop is fairly complex. Once your workshop is set up, the teacher is then in charge of moving from submission stage to evaluation stage to finished stage.

              Workshops are appropriate for proficient and resourceful Moodle users. The best place to learn how to implement a workshop is from the Moodle official resources linked below.

            • LaTeX

              LaTeX's main use in Moodle is for displaying equations properly. It is particularly useful in Science and Maths subjects.

              The "Insert Equation" button that you see when editing content directly inserts LaTeX. Sometimes it may be more convenient to manually edit the LaTeX. In this case, use the resources listed below.

              Latex looks like the following line. Although it looks awkward, it actually makes sense and is logical

              $$\int_0^\infty e^{-x^2} dx=\frac{\sqrt{\pi}}{2}$$

              This automatically produces the equation below, and can be edited as needed

              $$\int_0^\infty e^{-x^2} dx=\frac{\sqrt{\pi}}{2}$$

            • Blogs

              Each Moodle user (students and teachers) can blog. Blogging can be a good way for students to record evidence of progress/practice. It can also be a way for teachers to share their reflections about the learning.

              There are better blogging tools available, but Moodle has the advantages of convenience and locality. Students don't need to sign up or find a way to share the blog with the teacher, and the blogs are part of the actual course page, so very easy to access.

              The easiest way to enable students to blog is to add a blog block to your course page.

              • Groups / Grouping

                Within a course, you can put students into groups. You would do this for the following reasons:

                • If you want small groups of students to work collaboratively (on a forum, Wiki or glossary perhaps) without being able to see other groups' work
                • If you want students to work as a group, and then electronically submit an assignment, as a group
                • If you want any particular resource or activity to be visible to one grouping of students but not the rest

                Note in the last bullet point I have used the term "grouping". This is the term that Moodle uses. A grouping is a group of groups, and seems only to be useful for differentiating which students see which activities

                • The gradebook

                  We already use Kamar for recording grades, so using the gradebook feels like you're duplicating work. Especially because there is no easy way to transfer grades from Moodle to Kamar. There is value in using grades though, for the following reasons:

                  • Good for giving formative feedback
                  • Some activities are self-marking (crosswords and quizzes particularly)
                  • For junior students, it can be away to track work completion, homework etc.

                  Note that the grades can be set to N, A, M, E grades, NZ Curriculum levels or percentages.

                  There is an option to use Marking Guides and Rubrics, but these seem like a lot of work to set up, and they only work well with percentage grades. If you're interested, email me and we'll give it a go together...

                  • The Survey Module

                    Surveys can be considered for getting student feedback about your Moodle course. You only get to choose whether you do a COLLES survey or an ATTLS survey.

                    • More Moodle...

                      Because Moodle is developed and used by a vast amount of people worldwide, there are a vast amount of resources on using Moodle. Here's some starters to help you tap into these resources.

                    • Question Creator

                      Moodle quizzes are great, but it takes a LOT of time to write questions. Re-using questions by using the question bank is important, but you can also use the "Question Creator" activity to get the students to do the work instead.

                      In a "Question Creator" activity, the students write the questions. This makes them think hard about the following:

                      • What are the important things to learn about this topic
                      • What are the common misconceptions to avoid

                      Although they can do any sort of question, it's easiest if they just make multiple choice questions.

                      A suggested way to fit this activity in is as follows

                      • Use it towards the end of a topic, to get students to collate and organise what they have learned. Alternatively, it can be a revision exercise.
                      • Easiest to use with topics that require "knowledge"
                      • In the task description, give plenty of guidance about which areas would make good questions
                      • Specify a number of questions that each student should make. Probably not more than 5 (I would welcome feedback on what works for you here)
                      • In class, demonstrate on the projector what they need to do create a question. Also, embed the video below into the task description.
                      • Once they have completed the questions, you can approve them and make the quiz.
                      • Finally get the students to take the quiz made up of all the questions put together. Perhaps do this just before exams

                      The best result is if you then put the best questions into the question bank, so you or any other teacher of your subject can make quick revision quizzes. The questions need to be exported and then re-imported to the question bank. I'm really happy to help with this stage.

                      Video to help students (embed this in the task description they see)