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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.
Now let's take a look at Moodle's ability to create and manage groups of users inside of your course. To do this, go over to the Administration block on the lower left-hand side and click on the link for Groups. Here you can see the various options that we have for managing groups. The left-hand column lists the various groups that you have as part of your course. The right-hand side would list the users that are involved in each of those groups. You also have two tabs, the main tab for Groups and the Overview tab, which gives you a table listing of all of the data for all the groups that you have inside of your course. Let's go back over to the Groups tab and let's create a simple group.
To do this, simply click the button at the bottom of the left-hand column that says Create group. We'll then give the group a name. We know that one of the groups that we're going to have in our course is called the Coral Group. We can then give the Coral Group a description if we want. We can set an Enrollment key so that students would need to type in a secret password in order to enter into this group. We can tell a group's picture to be hidden if we want to have a specific image that's assigned to that group. We'll go ahead and leave this set to No. You can also upload that image right here if you want.
We'll go ahead and leave that option set alone also and click on the Save changes button. Now, you have a group that's been created for you on the left-hand side. To add members to that group, simply click on the Add/remove users button on the bottom of the right-hand side and now we can select the users that we want to be part of the Coral Group. We'll select Sally and hold down the Shift key and click on Elvis, then click the Add button to add those users to this group. We can then click the Back to groups button and we can see for the Coral Group, we have two users and we can see their names listed here on the right. Another way to work with groups is the new Auto-create groups option that's available in Moodle 1.9.
To use this option, simply click on the button at the bottom for Auto-create groups. Now we can have Moodle create groups of students for us. The top option allows us to select the type of users that we want to have our groups based on. In this case, we want to make sure that we're selected on Student. Then we can specify whether we want unspecific number of groups or we want to specify the specific number of members per group. With only five students, we want to divide our class in half. So we'll specify the number of groups. Then we enter in that number here. In this case, we'll simply enter in 2 because we want two groups of students.
Then we can come up with a specific naming sequence. If we want to have our groups called Group and then a letter designating A, B, C, then we put group with an @ sign. If we wanted to have them listed as Group 1, 2, 3, then we would type Group and a # sign. Let's go ahead and leave this set to Group with the @ sign so that we can have Groups A and B. Next, we'll click the Preview button and the students are auto-added into our group. If you want to have a little finer control as to which students end up in which group, you can click the Show Advanced button in the upper right-hand corner, then you have options to be able to select whether or not you want to prevent the last small group which means if you have a smaller number of students, say instead of Number of groups, we select Members per group and we want only two members per group. But we know we've got five students and we don't want to have a group of one. We can check the box here for Prevent last small group and then the last leftover student would be added randomly to one of the other groups.
We can also then set how we want to allocate our members. We can have them set to Randomly, alphabetical by first and last name, alphabetical by last and then first name or alphabetical by ID number. We'll go ahead and leave our set to Randomly. Then hit the Preview button again. The groups are created at the bottom for us that have a random selection for Group A and for Group B. If we like these groups, we can hit the Submit button and now we have our Coral Group, we have Group A and we have Group B. Each of these groups have a variety of different members in them. To look at this, click on the Overview tab and now we can see the listing of each group, the members of those groups and the user count for each of those groups.
This is a great tool for leveraging the power of having students collaborate on projects together and manage that process inside of Moodle. Let's go ahead and return back to our main course by clicking on the BIOL432 link in the upper left-hand corner.
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