Thursday, December 16, 2010

Creating A Course-Specific, Secure Pseudo Web Server in Moodle 2.0

In today’s day of “click and drag” web site publishing brought to us be Google Sites, WordPress, Webbly, and the many other tools available, having an understanding of the coding behind the creation of a web page is still important to students. Having that knowledge is useful to understand the mechanics that makes up the information they are viewing on the LCD screen in front of them. Providing instruction to students and opportunities to create actual web sites by using basic html coding, or using tools such as Dreamweaver, goes a long way into providing them with an understanding of the pretty pictures on their laptops or mobiles. Completed student web projects can be showcased using your Moodle course.

In addition, many educational software applications export completed projects in a web site format. Examples of these types of applications include Teacher Gradebook software, Adobe Flash, RunRev’s LiveCode, etc. etc. (Note- For Flash and other web plug-in type content, the visitor to you Moodle course must have the accompanying software plug-in installed on their computer.)

Using your Moodle course to publish a web site enables you to share web sites you or your students have created in a secure environment; only you and the students in your course can view the shared websites (provided you don’t have guest access turned on). The media richness and interactivity of your Moodle course can be enhanced by including custom web sites, Flash projects, and other widgets generated through exporting them out into a plug-in web technology and uploading them into your Moodle course.

Moodle 2.0 - Creating a Course Secure Pseudo Web Server from John Patten on Vimeo.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Power of Web 2.0 in Moodle 2.0

For all of us, having an audience for what we write is key for helping us to improve our writing skills. With systems such as blogs, the ability for individuals to share their thoughts in writing, and then for others to comment on that writing is very powerful; this process of learning by sharing through Web 2.0 tools is not unique to adults and schools can help students to improve their writing using the same types of systems. Achieving an environment for students where they can share, reflect, and comment on each other’s writing can be done in Moodle using the database activity.

The database activity in Moodle allows teachers to create embedded database directly in their Moodle site. These databases can be populated with information by the teacher, or populated by the students themselves. In this example, I have created a database that has been designed to provide a tool for students to anonymously reflect on their learning. These reflections are shared amongst all students in the Moodle course and each student has the ability to comment on all individual student reflections. In addition, the teacher has the ability to rate individual anonymous record posts submitted by the student and an average score can be recorded in the Moodle gradebook at the completion of the database activity.

Video Tutorial One

Moodle 2.0 - Introduction to Database Activity from John Patten on Vimeo.

  • How this particular database activity appears to a student.
  • All students can contribute comments to each student’s record in the database.
  • Moodle 2.0 comments appear much more “Web 2.0” like and been integrated into many of the activities and resources in Moodle version 2.0.

Video Tutorial Two

Moodle 2.0 - Database Activity Settings from John Patten on Vimeo.

  • The initial database activities settings configuration.
  • Providing students with the ability to comment on each other’s contributions is vital for improving writing, holding them accountable, and generating discussion regarding what they are learning.
  • The “Require approval” setting if used, will provide the teacher with a button to approve any new record added by a student before it visible to other students. This can also be used as a way to provide a system to collect and store information from students without making it public to other students. For example, let’s say a student has posted some content in a new database record but there are some grammatical errors in the post. The teacher could add a comment to that students post regarding fixing the grammatical errors. That original post and the teacher’s comments would only be available to the specific student and the teacher. Once the student has corrected the errors, the teacher could delete their comment and then approve the students record so that it is visible to the rest of the class.

Video Tutorial Three

Moodle 2.0 - Database Activity - Designing the Database from John Patten on Vimeo.

  • Creating fields for your database and adding those fields to the list view, single record view, and Add (record) view templates.