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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.
Now let's have a look at the course settings that are available to us as a teacher. In the left-hand side in the Settings block click on the link for Edit settings. This page is where you can control the basic set up and functionality for your course. The top section under General has items in it such as Category, Course full name, short name, and Course ID. all of these items are generally automatically filled in for you by your institution. The category at many schools is used to denote the various different subjects, departments or years or terms that a course belongs to, and is generally not editable by the instructor likewise Course full name is generally the full official name of your course where is the short name is usually reserved for the specific course number or course reference into your Campus Enterprise Information System.
The Course ID is many times the unique reference number that relates all of this data together. The Course summary is generally the official course description within your course catalog. Some institutions allow the instructors to go in and edit this so that the core summer is specific to the unique course that you're teaching. All of this information will vary depending on your specific institution. Let's go ahead and scroll down and look at the settings that generally the faculty control. The first is the Format of your course. Now you know your course content the best since you know it would the best way to be able to teach your course.
Most faculty when they select Format, choose either Topics or Weekly format. The difference in these two is that Weekly format which is how we've been using our course throughout this training is set up so that there's one block of content for each week of your course. This is how many faculty members think about the content for their course. They think of their course is a series of content that belongs to a particular week. If on the other hand you think of your content broken down by specific chapters or units, then you may want to select the Topics format to organize your course content.
In this case you would have one topic for each unit or each chapter that you're teaching throughout your course. We're going to leave this set to the Weekly format. The next option controls how many weeks or how many topics that your course is going to contain and this will be represented by the number of blocks that are in the center section of your course. Then you can set the Course start date, this is generally the first day of your class. At some institutions it's set for the first day of the term so that all courses begin on exactly the same day.
These settings will of course vary depending on how you're going to use Moodle. Here we can change the hidden sections option. What this means is within each of those center blocks you can choose to show or hide all of the content within that block. Then depending on this setting if you have a block hidden the top option for showing collapsed form will simply show a bar at the top that will indicate that there is content here, but the students are not able to see it, if you select the bottom option which is the one that I prefer then that block will be completely hidden from the students view.
It will be a much cleaner user-interface for the students to be able to experience and work to the content. News items to show, allows you to control the number of new items that shows up in the news items in the block on the upper right-hand side. Generally I don't like to set this value to high. I usually set it between either three or five depending on how often I'm communicating with my students. This way the students' interface doesn't get cluttered up with too much information. By setting it to a smaller value the students always see the most relevant current information and they can get back to any of the more detailed information by clicking into the news forum.
Next we can choose whether or not we want our students to have access to see their own grade book. Now a student could only see their own grades and they can only see the grades that we decide that they want to see. But this setting here determines whether or not they see their gradebook at all. I'd like to make sure that my students always have access to their gradebook so they can see exactly how much progress they have been making throughout the course. The next option is for Show activity reports. Every time a user comes into your Moodle course and they begin clicking around, they look at items, they complete an activity, Moodle keeps track of all of that information.
This option sets whether or not the students are able to see what kind of activities that they've been going through and they've been completing. It would show up within their user profile. I generally leave this option set to No. The next is for Maximum upload size. This value is going to vary greatly depending on your particular institution, and the range of values here is going to be controlled generally by the IT department, and this can be related to the amount of storage space that they have available to provide to you as a faculty member.
Inside of the course settings I'd like to set this value to as high as setting as I can. That way when I'm inside of any particular activity I have the full range of options for file size that I want to set for any particular activity for my students to complete. That gives me the most flexibility when I'm building my course. The next set of options is for Guest access. I generally like to leave my Guest access set to Yes. That way any student at my institution can click into my course and they can look around at the content that's in there.
It is a great advertising tool for student who may want to take your class in the future. If you don't want other students or other users within your institution to be able to see the content that's inside of your course you can of course leave this set to No. You can further control access to your course by setting Guest access to Yes, but then setting a password that you can give out to specific users so that another faculty member who wants to see what content that you're teaching and wants to see how well you're leveraging Moodle, you can give them a simple password to be able to access your course, but they don't end up having to be enrolled in your course.
Next you can control the Group options from Moodle. The first option allows you to set whether or not you want to use groups within your course. The default is usually set to No groups. You can also select Separate groups, meaning that if you separate your students into two groups, like Group A and Group B, the students that are in Group A can only see the work that's in the Group A course material that's set up for that group, and likewise Group B students could only see their content. They couldn't see each other's contact. The other option for Visible groups, would allow you to still create groups within your course but anyone in the class would be able to see any of the content that's in each other's group's pages.
You can also choose whether or not to force the group mode for every single activity. Next you have perhaps one of the most important settings on this page and that is the availability of the course to students. Through this one setting you can control whether or not all of your students have access to your course or not. For many faculty members you are able to get access to your own Moodle course several weeks to several months in advance of when you're actually going to teach the course. This gives you the advantage to go in and build all of the content for your course to get everything laid out the way that you wanted, and then when your term starts you're able to come in here and set the course is now available to students, and the students are able to get in and begin working as soon as the class starts.
Now the use of this Availability feature again may be determined by the specific policies at your institution, so you'll have to check with your own institution's policies about how to use this dropdown menu. The next section allows you to force a particular language. Since Moodle is a worldwide tool, it has been localized into a lot of different languages, and if your institution has added those language packages into your Moodle Install you could have them here. So say for instance you're teaching a course in Spanish and your institution has loaded the Spanish modules in.
You could force all of the content in your course to appear in Spanish and be displayed in Spanish, regardless of what the localized settings that each user has set up. That way you can create an immersive experience for your students. I generally like to leave this setting set to Do not force, unless I'm teaching a language course that requires the students to be immersed in a particular language. That way the student can work in whatever language they are most comfortable with. The final section for Role renaming allows you to change how a role appears within your course.
The default role for yourself is generally a teacher, but if you prefer instructor, you can type-in Instructor in this box, and then throughout the course anywhere that normally you would have seen the word, Teacher, you would start seeing the word, Instructor or Faculty or whatever you choose for that. The one that I usually change is this next one, which is Non-editing teacher. That's essentially a teaching assistant and in my institution they are referred to as TAs. So I'll go ahead and leave this option set to TA so that anywhere non-editing teacher would appear inside of my course it would simply say TA.
We haven't made any changes, but just in case we did, all you need to do is click the Save changes at the bottom to have all of those setting changes take effect.
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