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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.
Let's get started building our first course inside of Moodle. If you follow along with the previous chapter, you should already be logged in as yourself. If you've had a test course set up for you by your institution, go ahead and log into your institution's Moodle site now and find that test course. The test course that I'm using is the Coral Reef Ecology class, which is located right here on the front page. I'll go ahead and click on the link and it takes me inside of my course. As the teacher for this course, nearly every function that I need to use is located on the left-hand side in the Administration block.
I can do things like turn editing on, adjust the course settings, assign various roles and access a variety of other functions that are available inside of my course. We'll go into these roles later. For now, just know where the block is located. You can also turn editing on by going up to the upper right-hand corner of the screen and clicking the button that says Turn editing on. If you click that button, you will notice that a bunch of icons appear all over your screen. Now regardless of the theme that has been applied to the particular Moodle installation that you are using, these icons and their functions will be the same.
So if you learn what the icons are and you learn how to use them, you won't have to worry about the differences in the appearance of a Moodle installation. You will know how to use it and how to work with it. A couple of the key icons that you want to make sure you are familiar with are the Hand icon that has the pencil. This icon allows you to edit the content that it's associated with. At the top of each content block in a course, this icon allows you to edit the header information for that block. There is also an Edit icon associated with each piece of content that's in those content blocks. The X allows you to delete content, the eyeball allows you to show or hide content.
This is very helpful when you are building content that you don't want to make visible to your students yet but you want to have it visible on your system. Simply clicking this Hide icon makes the content disappear from the view of a student. Clicking the icon again makes that content visible to the student again. There are also directional arrows that allow you to move content up or down or left or right. These icons are repeated inside of the content block so you can move the blocks around as well. There are two large dropdown menus that are associated with each content block. These are Add a resource and Add an activity.
Resources are for information that you want to provide to your students. Activities are things that you want your students to do or hand in. The difference between the two is really important to understand. So make sure you are familiar with them. We'll be going into all the different options under each of those menus in a later chapter. For now, just know the difference between the two. There is contextual help available for most objects inside of Moodle. Simply clicking on the yellow circle with the question mark will pop open a window that will have additional information for you that will explain what the function is and how to use it.
The next icons to look at are over here on the right side of each of the content blocks. Clicking on the top box allows you to hide the other topics that are available in the outline for your course. This allows you to draw focus to just particular content area that you want to work with. Clicking the button again shows all the content areas again. The icon underneath of it, the Light Bulb icon, allows you to highlight a particular content area so that your students know which content area is where you want them to have the focus at. Clicking on the Light Bulb icon a second time removes the two color bars from either side of the content area.
If you scroll up to the top on the right-hand side, there is another dropdown menu that allows you to switch your role. This is an incredibly useful tool for you while you are building your course. It allows you to see what a student would see if they were logged into your course. If you select Student, your view changes. You can tell that you are in a student role because your Administration panel is now much more condensed. You would only have the ability to look at your grade and see your profile. To change back to your teacher role, simply click the button at the top that says, Return to my normal role.
You are now taken back in the role of the teacher. You have to turn editing back on though by clicking the button that says Turn editing on either in the upper-right or at the top of the Administration block. The last major difference between the Student view and the Teacher view is the block in the lower right-hand corner that just simply says Blocks. The dropdown menu allows you to add additional blocks that are available on the particular Moodle installation that you have. You can add these blocks by simply selecting them from a menu. They will appear and you can begin working with them. We'll go into some of these blocks in the later time. For now, just know that they are there. The next thing we need to do is we set up our course is to customize our own profile so that the users have more information about us on the system and we'll do that in the next movie.
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