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In this course, author Chris Mattia helps educators create online courses that complement classroom-based instruction and foster student interaction using the free learning management system Moodle. The course details the basics of setting up a test environment, disseminating course information, creating forums, and assessing student progress. Tutorials on building course materials with Moodle's built-in HTML editor, preparing and posting various types of media, uploading assignments, and evaluating tests automatically are also included.
One of the most common things that all faculty want to do with their students is to communicate news, updates, and announcements out to their students in an easy and effective way. They also want to have a way to be able to communicate out to the students where it not just goes to their email but is recorded in some other location, and the tool for that in Moodle is called the Latest News section. It's usually located up here in the upper right-hand corner of your Moodle course in a block called Latest news. It's very easy to use.
All you need to do is hit the link that says Add a new topic. This will take you to the General news and announcements news forum that is available in all Moodle courses. Filling out the information is quite easy. You simply give the message a subject. In this case, we will send a welcome message and let the students know that we've posted the course syllabi to our course. So we will say, "Welcome to Coral Reef Ecology" in the Subject line and then down here in the Message section we will just go ahead and say--scroll down a little bit further.
Here you can add an attachment if you'd like. If you would want to go ahead and post the Course syllabi again to have that go out to the students, we can go ahead and do that as well. Go ahead and hit the Add button and the standard File picker shows up, and we will come over here to the Recent files link, go ahead and click on that one time, and you can see all the recent files that we have used so far throughout our training, and here's the Syllabus.doc. We can go ahead and click on that one time. Because Moodle remembers that file was there, we can go ahead and access it and go ahead and hit the Select this file button, and there we go.
We've attached the document here. The final option here is there is a check box here for Mail now. Now if we don't check this, most Moodle servers are set up so that about every 30 minutes or so all of the email that has been set up for all the different courses and all the different accounts will get send out in batches, but if you need to get your message out right now at this very instant, you can go ahead and check the Mail now button, and if your server has been configured to do this and you hit Post to forum, that email message should go out to all of your students.
I am going to go ahead and uncheck that, because I don't need the message to go out right this second. This is not quite that time sensitive. We'll go ahead and hit the Post to forum link, and it's giving us a warning, letting us know that the post was sent out. Now when we return back to our course, a couple of little things to note. First of all, in the Latest news section we can see that I have posted at this date and time the first message "Welcome to Coral Reef Ecology," and there is a small link for more that I can click on and get to more information and see the complete post, including seeing a copy of syllabus document that I've posted.
Now remember when we set up in our profile, we set up our profile picture. Here we go. Here is our profile picture showing up here, attached to our post as well. That's one way that we can get into this. Now if this was a question or a topic that needed some additional discussion, your students would be able to come in here and they could reply to this message and have additional information to post back to it. Let's go ahead and go back to the course. We will look at another way to get access to this Latest news section. So go ahead and hit link to BIOL432.
That'll take us right back to our course. If you hit Home, you are going to go all the way back to the homepage of your Moodle site. So here we are back at our course. Right here in our header block we have the News forum. Now this News forum link here is the exact same thing as all the content that gets displayed over here in the Latest news block, but it will present it to us in a little bit different format. So we'll go ahead and hit the News forum, and here you will be able to see a listing of all of the different topics that have been posted, who the post was started by. You will be able to keep track of any replies or unread messages that you haven't looked at in here, and you can also see when the last post was made.
Let's go ahead and go back to our course homepage, click on BIOL432 in your breadcrumbs right up there, and that's how you use the Latest news section to be able to communicate out to all of your students.
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