Only Office and SwitchDrive

Switch are offering Google doc like services through their SwitchDrive service.

What this means is that you can now work collaboratively on documents in more or less the same way as you do with Google docs, just with the added security of knowing that only you and your collaborators know what is going on.

The service uses OnlyOffice, a tool that is based essentially on Open Office or Libra Office.

For more information click here.

Moodle and MS Office 365

Microsoft have developed an entire suite of tools aimed at giving users a greater deal of flexibility when working with Moodle.

The tools include a calendar sync function, submission of assignments undertaken using Onenote, intergration of MS Teams and much more.

We are currently looking to evaluate the usefulness of these tools and also their reliability on the test platform.

Moodle Users Association

The Moodle Users Association or MUA is a group of people who get together to help develop, mold, fashion and influence the next generation of Moodle.

There are different levels of membership from individual users through to Institutions who want to have a greater say in the develop process.

Moodle 3.7 is here.

Moodle 3.7 has been launched. This means that our test platform is now running the latest version to test plugin compatibility and to ensure that we have stability in the system. At the same time the development server is running the next Moodle version Moodle 3.8.

The developers in Australia have already unveiled Moodle 3.9 which will be launched to us in the Spring of 2020.

Greater Moodle Flexibility

Corporate IT have welcomed our idea of a split Moodle concept which they say will fit in really well with their vision of some form of cloud e-learning idea.

It would allow the Corporate Moodle to remain slim and efficient whilst allowing the School of Engineering to utilize plugins and resources that they really need and want.

Our Moodle, which is currently version 3.6.2+, has, for example, all the maths and Latex filters enabled which allows for us to make the most of engineering notation.

The plan is for this site, and the Moodle application to be moved to an FHNW internal server over the summer break. This should also give us plenty of time to test and make sure everything is working the way we want it to be.

Moodle News

The Corporate Moodle is now running Moodle 3.5.

Since Corporate IT took back the responsibility for running our own Moodle, they are performing regular minor updates to the application. If for some reason you notice something not working as it should be, please let me know and I can request that the issue be rectified as quickly as possible. CIT will normally respond within the day.

Moodle Upgrade News

Unfortunately there was a problem with the planned Moodle upgrade last night and CIT regret to inform us that as a result, the platform is still running with the old version 3.1.

CIT have announced they will make a second attempt to upgrade Moodle on Thursday 14th February at 20:00. If this attempt fails, they will make a further attempt on Saturday also at 20:00.

Grading or Assessing in Moodle

Moodle Grading and Assessment

Moodle offers a range of options when it comes to grading or assessing students’ work, but how does a lecturer decide on which is the best approach for their class.

Let’s look at what there is on offer, and then consider in which scenario you might choose which.

  1. Simple direct grading
    1. Grading using a rubric
    2. Grading using a marking guide
  2. Grading using outcomes
  3. Assessment using learning objectives

1     Simple Direct Grading

This approach involves a simple way to grade. So why might you use it? If you have a very straight forward assignment that requires nothing more than a straightforward grade 1 to 6 with optionally comments/feedback, then this form of grading is for you. The approach requires no justification of how the grade is derived, and hence the concept enables a teacher to simply award the grade either through the grading system or by quick grading.

Grading using a Rubric or Marking Guide

I am taking both of these together since their approaches are fairly similar.

A rubric or marking guide is a grid of criteria that must be met in order that a certain grade is awarded. Let’s start though with the rubric.

  1. The rubric allows you to form a grid based on a scale. The grader clicks on the box in the grid that contains the description that best suits the criteria met by the student. On the left side the base requirements are listed whilst horizontally the degree to which the criteria is met is stated. The grade is automatically calculated by Moodle and entered into the gradebook as a single mark. The student can then see the grade, and the criteria which the grader checked. Note! When you adopt the approach, always ensure that you include a zero grade otherwise the grades may not calculate correctly.
  2. The Marking guide is a similar to the rubric, but, the grader is free to enter their own grade depending on their own assessment of how the criteria have been met. This naturally means that fractions of the grade can also be entered. Using this approach also allows for frequently used feedback comments to be stored and then selected by the grader negating the need to type them in repetitively.

It is worth noting that both approaches allow for individual notes to be made against each criteria.

2     Grading using Outcomes

The above approaches are as it were isolated. By this I mean that the comments, the criteria and grades are saved with the assignment and might only be viewed in connection with the assignment. Grading using outcomes makes the tracking of a students work easier and effectively more accountable.

Grades can be broken down into elements that students must achieve in order to successfully complete an assignment, activity or course.

Teachers can view these criteria, and the grades/comments made in a table and thereby assess to what degree a student is taking feedback and using it.

3     Assessment using Learning Objects

First of all it is worth drawing attention to the change in wording here. We have change from grading to assessment here and this is significant.

Assessment by Learning Objectives is increasingly becoming an approach of favour. Rather than grading from say 1 to 6 we shift to grading from a competency table/listing. This means stating to what degree we believe that a student has grasped a competency rather than simply stating 4 with some feedback.

Students can seek to have a competency assessed when they feel ready, they can ask for it to be reassessed thereby encouraging them to strive to improve.

The approach also significantly can be differentiated is that grades travel with the student from one course to another thereby enabling the teacher of another course or follow on course to see what was achieved in a previous class/course.

To adopt such an approach a student learning plan is setup and then the criteria for a given course attached to the plan.

In each activity etc. the criteria being assessed by that activity are activated allowing the teacher to track where a student is in the course and where they have been.

The approach does not stop a grade being awarded to the student together with the competency, but it could also be left out.

In all the above approaches, there are a raft of finer grading points that can be initiated, for example, the lecturer can hide who marked the work, they can assign a colleague to grade the work, they can anonymise the student being graded, they could set criteria that means a student must achieve a set grade or criteria prior to moving on.

Essentially, Moodle is incredibly powerful and provides you as a lecturer with a massive advantage when it comes to tracking, supporting and grading your students.

If you want to know more about how you can exploit the power of Moodle, contact me and I’ll be only too pleased to support you.

Assessment_-_Competency_based

Paul Raper MSc TESP/TESOL

MAS – E-Learning and Knowledge Management.


Important Corporate IT News

Please Note!

This is important to everyone who is currently developing a Moodle course.

Firstly Corporate IT are updating the FHNW servers, this is an ongoing operation and should not affect your work with Moodle. However, they are intending to update the Corporate Moodle to Moodle 3.5. This is NOT the latest Moodle version, but, due to some issues with the interface plugin, they cannot update to 3.6.2+ just yet.

Good news is that we have taken back responsibility for our e-learning LMS from LIIP which essentially means there should be more freedom to install the plugins we want, though you should not expect to try out new plugins. You may do this on the HT Moodle platforms.

If you want to see what the new Moodle will look like, you can take a look here: Moodle 3.5

Important

You should NOT use Moodle between 20:00 and 23:00 on 11.02.2019. The system will be down, and any work you do between these times is likely to be lost.

Our own HT Moodle should be moving along with this site and all the content during the summer of 2019. We felt that to migrate the CIT system and merge our system would be a job too much.

If you have any questions concerning Moodle or anything e-learning, please feel free to contact me.