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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 that we have our discussion forum set up, students are able to enter the forum and reply to the main post that's here associated with this forum. To do this, make sure you have clicked inside of the forum, then click on the Reply button to the initial post. You then type in a unique Subject but your subject line has already been filled in for you with Re or Response To and the same name of the posting that the initial post was created with. You are probably familiar with this as this looks the way that most email programs work. If you scroll down on the window now, you can see that's your own place to post your message and the Message area is a standard HTML editor.
So anything that you or your students can do with HTML can be done inside of this editor. So we'll type a simple message in here, 'See my attached notes in Microsoft Word format.' Please add additional comments as necessary. Go ahead and scroll down on the window now and we can see that the format for this message is an HTML format and that everyone is subscribed to this forum.
We then want to attach a document. Click the Browse button and if you are following along with the Exercise Files, I'm in the Chapter 10 folder and there is a file called Notes for week 1.doc. Go ahead and select that document and then click the Open button. You then have the ability to check a box here that says Mail now and if this box is checked, as soon as we post to this forum, Moodle will send an email out to all users in this course and let them know that this discussion forum has had a new post applied to it. If you do not check the box, Moodle will wait a certain period of time depending on a specific configuration of your server and then it will mail out a notice to all the users in the class to let them know that there is a discussion forum posted.
So if you check the box for Mail now, it will just send the message immediately rather than use the delay that's built into the server. Go ahead and now click the button for Post to forum and we can see that the post was successfully added. We can also see that this response to the post is not tamped in one level from the original post and that the Word document is attached to it. So any user that comes in here is able to click on this Word document and their browser will attempt to download that document to their hard drive. We'll go ahead and click Save, File and click OK, then return out to our desktop where the file has been downloaded for us. If we go ahead and open up that document, we can see the notes that were added in.
Now, if we want to add a comment, we can simple come in and select a portion of the Word document Major Tropical Ecosystems, go up to the Insert menu and choose Comment. Now we can add a comment, all coral reefs are located inside of the tropics except for the reefs around Bermuda. Now there is a comment associated with this document, we want to set that comment to document back up to the class. So we'll go ahead and we'll save the document, close it, go back to Moodle and we'll apply to the previous post so that the other students will have the new updated document. We'll click the Reply button. We'll simply say See attached comments.
We will go ahead and scroll down, click the Browse button, select the document that we just made the edits to, click Open, click the button for Post to forum and now the new posting is set up here for the students so that they can have access to this new document. If we were to click on that document and download it again, you can see the comments that were added. This is a great tool for having students take notes in class and then interact with that material after the class so that the material stays fresh in their mind. Let's go ahead and return back to our course by clicking on the BIOL432.
So now you have a pretty good idea as to how to create a discussion forum and have your students interact with that forum. Forums are a great tool that you have at your disposal in order to allow students to continue to interact with course material when they are not actually in class and it allows students to interact with each other and the materials in their course even though they may all not be logged in at the same time as if they were in a chat session.
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