Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Moodle Upgrade, a Learning Opportunity, and a Hint for Hiding Activities from Students

A planned service outage for Moodle maintenance will take place beginning at 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 9th and extending until 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 10th. During this time frame, Moodle will be unavailable for use. Please check your courses and adjust due dates for assignments, quizzes, and other features accordingly.

Following the upgrade, a few new features will be available for faculty use.
  • Students will be able to upload Assignments as .pdf files, and instructors will be able to use the Joule Grader feature to add comments on the .pdf submissions.
  • Instructors will be able to turn on notifications within the Joule Grader feature indicating that grading of an assignment is in progress, and can release grades for an assignment all at one time. 
  • Moodle will issue a warning if a student loses his/her internet connection while taking a quiz.
  • The Activity Chooser moves to the top right of each topic area.
  • Editing icons visible to faculty will be changed from the current line up to a tidy drop down menu.
The i3 Workshop online course will begin on July 7th! Faculty may register for the course on our Instructional Technology web site.

Finally, this week's Moodle highlights include a new tutorial explaining how to use the Restrict access feature for Moodle Resources and Activities. There are occasions when it might be useful to hide an activity from students. The Hide icon that is visible to instructors when the editing is turned on in a course works well for hiding Resources (items such as videos, podcasts, readings, or urls to websites that students will view without receiving a grade), but not for Activities (Assignments, Quizzes, Forums, or other tasks that students must complete to receive a grade.) Use of the Hide icon (shaped like an eye) to hide an Activity, causes course totals in the gradebook User report to miscalculate. When an Activity must be hidden from student view, choose the Edit option from the editing tools for the activity, and utilize the Restrict access feature instead.

The Restrict access feature should not be confused with the Availability dates in the Assignment activity or Timing dates in Quiz. In fact, the simplest way to use Restrict access is to insert a Release code, which acts as a password. If you do not share the Release code with students, the students cannot gain access to the activity. The gradebook totals are unaffected when Restrict access is utilized, making it the preferred way to hide any Moodle item with the potential for earning a grade.

An illustrated tutorial explaining the use of Restrict access is available at our Instructional Technology website.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Moodle Transition for Summer 2014

Faculty members, it is once again that time of year when we wrap up the spring semester and prepare our summer courses in Moodle while daydreaming about long days at the pool.

Your IT team has posted a helpful checklist with links to several tutorials explaining how to complete those end of the semester Moodle chores. View the checklist here.

As always, if you require assistance, please contact us at extension 229.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Guest Blogger Nina Dulabaum shares her experience attending the Distance Learning Conference

Enriching Learning Environments with Technology was the theme of the Distance Learning Conference on March 7th in Elgin. Dr. Maria Andersen began her keynote speech with a quote from Arthur C. Clarke, Anyone who can be replaced by a computer should be." Gasps from faculty were audible as she continued with her predictions for the future:

“(1) Learning that involves information transfer will be replaced by technology
 (2) Any repetitive assessment or learning task that can be replicated by a computer will be.
 (3) Any computerized course that is cheaper and results in equal or better learning outcomes¹ for students will be delivered that way.
 (4) The only technology that will improve learning outcomes for the majority of students is the technology that begins to mimic a tutor-student relationship.” of-technology-enhanced-learning/

Her presentation continued discussing the implications of these predictions and what this means for the future of education. In addition, I soon learned the true meaning of “Busynessgirl” – she shared many resources and tools for teaching and engaging students, including a few minutes of a Hans Rosling’s TED Talk from 2006 that certainly makes statistics come alive! Click here for interesting handouts!

Yes, she thinks computers should replace faculty in some instances (refer to above). No, in the end, she emphasized that education needs competent faculty – professors and instructors – who embrace and leverage technology and focus on “acting human” – mentoring, assisting, and supporting students in all those ways computers can not.

I took this opportunity to speak with her personally, and she shared her views on some innovative technology on the market – e.g., adaptive tools such as the SmartBook. Having used a similar adaptive study resource at another institution, I am excited about exploring this option and finding new ways to assist our students in becoming successful learners here at Sauk! Just like Raph Koster’s quote she posts on her blog, her session truly demonstrated that “Learning is the brain having fun.”
~ Dr. Duly

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Moodle Quiz - Certainty Based Marking

Moodle Quiz offers a scoring option called Certainty Based Marking. When this option is selected, students are asked how certain they are of their answer after answering every question.

The following excerpt from Moodle documentation explains how it works.

When a student answers a question they also have to state how sure they are of the answer: not very (less than 67%); fairly (more than 67%) or very (more than 80%). Their grading is then adjusted according to how certain they are, which means that for example if they answered correctly but were only guessing, their mark is adjusted from 1 to 0.33. If they answered wrongly but were very sure, their mark is adjusted from 0 to -2.”

This grading option is selected in the quiz settings, and is one of many choices under 
 the Question behavior section. 



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Growing Online Learning Conference - Recorded Sessions

Last week your IT Department was able to attend the Growing Online Learning Conference online from ILCCO.  These sessions have been recorded and are available for you to view at your leisure.  Keep reading for descriptions of each session and links. Two sessions I found interesting were "Creating an Accessible Online Course" and "Enrich Online Student Learning Experience by using Screencast-O-Matic". Both provided relevant and up-to-date information with great ideas for implementing them in your online course. 
-Greg Noack

“Online teaching will never be as good as real teaching," and other lies your elders told you.
Michelle Stephens Coordinator of Richland Theatre Program
Richland Community College
Author of Prepare for Impact and Teaching in Zero Gravity

Stephens, author of Prepare for Impact and Teaching in Zero Gravity, is both a lover of technology and a skeptic. During her keynote session, she explains how the outcomes of online education have nothing to do with the classroom impact. Working deftly, like a hibachi chef, she will separate out all of the key components of online education and of teaching and explain that not only is real comparable online education within our grasp, it is at our door. Then she will toss them with some vegetables and throw them on your plate. (These are often referred to as "takeaways.") She will also explain how having impact in the classroom is a lot more low-tech than you think. Using multiple perspectives, Stephens weaves pedagogy and storytelling like ... Well, like a person who weaves a lot of things together. Particularly important things. 

Throw Out the Cookie Cutters!
Linda Lee, Associate Director of Educational Technology and Innovation
Jill Johnson, Associate Dean of Social and Behavioral Science
Carl Sandburg College

Throw out the cookie cutter and allow students to shape their own learning space in online classes. Personalized learning paths and U-Pace will be discussed.

Building Content Knowledge and Community in an Online Course Using Storybooks
Elizabeth Kershisnik, Professor of Chemistry
Oakton Community College

Having groups create a child's storybook about a chemistry concept can help solidify content knowledge and build group cohesion. This presentation will cover 1) how the group project is designed, 2) ways to assign groups, 3) rubrics and assessment, and 4) successes and pitfalls of this type of learning module.

Creating an Accessible Online Course
Janet Peters Project Coordinator for Education and Assistive Technology
University of Illinois at Chicago

What does the word accessible mean to you? You may first think of the word available. Something that is accessible is available, or perhaps within reach for you to use. However, just because something is available doesn't necessarily mean it is accessible. For instance, if you are hard of hearing or have poor vision, a course may be "available" but hard or impossible for you to use because it was not designed with accessibility in mind. This session will discuss the reasons to create your course in an accessible way and will offer practical and easy tips on how to do that, including checklists and resources to streamline the process.

Improving Online Student Retention
Kona Jones Director of Online Learning
Richland Community College

Retention and success are important issues, yet in most cases there is little to nothing done to directly monitor and provide early intervention strategies to online students at risk. Because of this, Richland Community College partnered with AspireEDU to help improve their online retention. Aspire pulls various pieces of student information from Richland's LMS and is able to then provide a "risk index" of how likely it is that each student will drop out or fail their online course(s). Using this risk score, Richland was able to quickly pick out the online students most at risk and start an early alert intervention with the students. This session will include tips on how to identify at risk students, Richland's early alert strategy, and results of the initial online retention pilot.

Enrich Online Student Learning Experience by using Screencast-O-Matic
Dr Diane King Coordinator of Early Childhood Education and Education ProgramsTerry Lucas Educational Technology SpecialistSoutheastern Illinois College

Online students benefit from personalized contact and encouragement. Incorporating video and audio feedback for written assignments adds another dimension to online pedagogy.

Getting Audio and Video into Your Online Course
Nancy Heuer-Evans English Instructor
Brandy Thatcher Instructional Media Developer Illinois Central College
Brett Coup Associate Dean for Instructional Technology College of DuPage

Join us for a discussion of tips, tricks and ideas for working with audio and video in your online course. We'll discuss common challenges for getting audio and video into your courses: efficient storage of large media files, competing video formats, browser issues. You will also hear a faculty member's perspective on using audio and video in her online courses. We'll demonstrate a few solutions, such as using Google Drive for hosting video

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hide Suspended Students in Gradebook

Students who withdraw from courses after the tenth day of enrollment are suspended rather than completely withdrawn from Moodle in order to safeguard grade and attendance records. Instructors may choose to omit these students from view in the gradebook.

Navigate to Grades and select the My preferences tab, as shown below.

A new page will open. Scroll down to the General section and locate the drop down menu titled Show only active enrollments. Selecting No will display all students, including suspended students, in the gradebook. Selecting Yes will show only the students who are actively enrolled in the course. After you have made your selection, scroll to the bottom of the page and Save changes.

In order to view the records of the suspended student once again, return to the drop down menu and select No.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Update Concerning Moodle Login Notifications

On Dec 27th 2013 Moodle Rooms applied a minor upgrade to our Moodle site.  This upgrade crippled a process critical for the seventh and fourteenth day Moodle login notifications to function. Our institution was the first to notice this failure and alert Moodle Rooms.   We have since removed the notification rules from all online courses this semester.  Students did not receive the planned notification on the fourteenth day if they did not log into your course. We encourage you to monitor student progress and contact any students who have not been participating in your courses.  Moodle Rooms has since fixed the issue, and we hope to utilize these notifications again next semester.