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Moodle is an online tool that allows educators to interact with students outside the classroom and manage a course from anywhere. In Moodle Essential Training for Teachers, Chris Mattia shows how this program works for teachers on three levels: disseminating information, creating a forum where ideas are exchanged, and assessing the progress of students. Chris shows how to build course materials with Moodle's HTML editor, post assignments, and save time by using Moodle's grade book to evaluate tests automatically and organize scores. Exercise files accompany the course.
The next thing we want to modify inside of our course is the actual topic outline. Right now, our course is set up as a series of different topics or units or sections if you will. They are listed out here, 1 through 5. But the course that we are teaching will be better served if we had it configured so that there was a different block of content available for each week of our semester. Our semester is a 15-week semester but during Spring break, we are going to be taking our students to Belize to do a field study with them. So in that case, we are going to want a course that's set up with 16 different weeks. We also know that our semester starts on January 26th. So let's go and make these changes.
We go to the Administration block on the left-hand side, click on the link for Settings. The top part of the course settings section is almost always set up for you by your institution, and rarely do you need to go in and change or modify the Full name, Short name or Course ID. The Summary for your course is usually used to put the catalog description for the class that you are teaching. What we are looking to change is the format. So if we scroll down a little bit and click on the Format menu, we can change from a Topics format to a Weekly format. There are a variety of other formats that are available to us but for right now, let's just change the Topics format to Weekly. We'll set the Number of weeks to 16 and we'll change our Course start date to the 26th of January 2009. This will be for a course that's being taught during the Spring term of 2009.
Go ahead and scroll down until you find the section for Groups. Inside of our course, we are going to have a variety of different student research groups. So change the dropdown menu from No groups to Separate groups. The difference here is that Separate Groups will make it through the any work that is being conducted on Moodle by a particular group of students will only be visible to the students inside of that group and all the instructors.
If we select Visible groups, then any work that the students are conducting inside of their groups will be visible to everyone in the class. This is a personal choice that you need to make while you are building your course. In our case, we want to keep the Group work Separate. So we'll go ahead and set it to Separate groups. Another function that you may want to adjust is the availability of your course. If you are building a test course inside of a live environment, you may want to set your course to be not available to other students. This way while you are building your course, no other students will be able to go into your course and see what you are working on.
But once you make your course live, make sure you go back into this setting and change it back to This course is available to students. You can also choose if you would like to allow guest to come in and view content within your course. You can choose to have them just to have full access into your course or you can require them to enter in a key. This is helpful if you want to restrict access to some users but you don't want to have to enroll them into your course. You can come up with an enrollment key like a secret word or a password that you can type in and you can give out to people to allow them into your course.
For now, we are going to leave the Do not allow guests in, option set. We can scroll down to the bottom and click the Save changes button. Now that you can see there is a block that's been created for every single week of our semester. At the top of each content block, it has the appropriate dates for that week. There are a lot of other options that are available to you inside of the Settings window. But for now, we have got enough set to get us up and started. The next thing we are going to do is edit the header block for our course.
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