Moodle Gradebook Survey 2

On May 12, we posted about a survey Moodle's founder and creator, Martin Dougiamas, had posted inquiring about the Moodle grade book. He has taken the results of that survey and created a more specific query. The message from Martin Dougiamas is below:

Hi all,
Several weeks ago we ran a short Gradebook survey to gather some of your feedback in preparation for the Moodle Gradebook workshop in Long Beach, California on June 11-12.  Thank you to more than 600 of you who provided the group with some terrific rich data to work with.

The working group has distilled some of the key issues into a second survey with more specific targeted questions, and we would love to get responses from those of you working with the Moodle gradebook to help us further.
The survey is here:  Moodle Gradebook Enhancement Survey

Please spread this link around to Moodle teachers that you know!
Thanks for contributing to Moodle with your feedback!
Please take a moment to complete the survey. The more feedback we can provide the better the tool will be in the end.



THATCamp Milwaukee

The instructional technology team had the opportunity to attend THATCamp Milwaukee this past weekend with Ellen Joyce. It was a wonderful time meeting and dialoging with peers. Below is a Storify archive of the Twitter stream from the conference.


Converting VHS

We have updated our instructions for converting VHS to another format. Material may be captured from VHS and converted to another format as long as it is within the bounds of honoring copyright. Please honor copyright and make sure that your capture is a fair use.

We have equipment in the Innovation space located in the Library to assist you with this task. There are three software options available to you to capture and convert the VHS footage: iMovie/iDVD, Adobe Premiere Pro/Encore and Final Cut Pro. Please visit the link below to see the instructions for each platform.



Blendkit 2014: Reaction to Chapter 2

Well, I am playing catch-up. This is my reaction to Chapter 2 for the Blendkit 2014 course. In summary, this chapter discusses some of the challenges related to teaching and learning in a blended environment, provides ideas for types of roles an instructor might take in a blended course and shares recommendations and examples about engaging with students in a blended course.

One of the main points that stuck out to me was the necessity for "high impact activities" and that it is through interaction in the activity(ies) with the instructor and peers that meaningful learning occurs. When I think back to the courses in which I learned the most, it was those in which I was able to work with peers and receive feedback/input from the instructor. One of the challenges in a blended learning environment is disconnection the learner may feel with the course, instructor and peers. Providing opportunities to interact with peers in a more informal manner, setting expectations for polite democratic discourse, providing summary of shared ideas and providing timely and pertinent feedback can help a learner to feel involved in a course.

Of the possible instructor roles the "studio or atelier learning" resonated most with me as a preferred teaching style. I do realize though that this is context/subject dependent. When I think about developing a course for digital storytelling or integrating tech, I think that this model would work. I see more of a flipped model where the learners interact with the theoretical materials outside of class and then we use the class time as workshop or lab time to work on creative projects and to discuss the materials and experiences that the learners are having as they work.

I thought that the recommendations toward the end of the chapter about helping learners feel engaged and motivated in the course were sound. They echo the experiences I have had in courses that have and have not employed them. I think too a key point is recognizing for what audience a student is writing/creating and providing opportunities for doing so for different audiences.


Moodle Gradebook Survey

To Beloit College Faculty:

Do you use the Moodle gradebook? Are there things you like, or don't like? Below is an opportunity to make your voice heard! Martin Dougiamas, the creator and lead developer of Moodle, is seeking feedback about the gradebook. You can read more about that here.

If you use the gradebook please take five minutes to complete this brief survey. Any feedback you can provide will be helpful.

Short Moodle Gradebook Survey

Happy Moodling!


Pandemic: Gaming in a Biology Seminar Course

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with one of our Biology faculty, Amy Briggs, to discuss a game, Pandemic, that she had been using in one of her classes. This semester she is teaching a class, "Biology, War and Human Rights." In this course students investigate the biological aspects of radiological, biological, and chemical weapons and examine cases of when these have been used in human history. They then connect what happens to our cells when these sorts of weapons are used, taking into account the historical context, and discuss the ethics and human rights related to the use of these and how we can protect people.

I wanted to find out why Professor Briggs chose this game, how it fits into her course, and the learning goals it helps meet. I was also interested in the experience she and her students had using the game. Some of the things from the interview that stuck out were that the game was a simulation for what the class was studying, that it allowed the students to apply what they were learning to a 'real world" example, that the game facilitated deep conversation and that they were able to have fun.

If you would like to read more about the specifics about this game and how it was used, please read the interview transcript below.

Jedidiah Rex: Can you explain what Pandemic is for us?
Amy Briggs: Its a cooperative board game, meaning that the players are not competing against each other, everyone works as a team, and you either lose the game as a team or win as a team. Its a board game with a map of the world and it simulates the outbreak and spread of four different fictional infectious diseases. The players, there's up to four players, and they randomly choose roles, and they're all members of the CDC and its their job to stop and control the spread of the infection, find cures, and eradicate the diseases. Its a simulation of infectious disease spread and how people might go about preventing and stopping the spread of disease.

"It didn’t feel like learning. It didn’t feel like class."

JR: Why did you choose to use Pandemic? What learning objectives does that meet?
AB: It struck me that this is in fact a model or simulation of infectious disease transmission and it fits nicely with a learning objective of mine, that students can apply their knowledge of the biology of this concept, which in this case is an infectious disease caused by a pathogen, and their knowledge of the methods used by epidemiologists to investigate and stop outbreaks -- how can they apply their knowledge to a completely new situation they wouldn’t have actually otherwise encountered in the classroom. Another reason I chose this game for class is that this class can get a bit heavy and depressing, reading about the worst examples of human behavior. This was a nice opportunity to think about what we are learning and the content but in a more lighthearted context.

JR: How have students responded to the game?
AB: They have responded very well. It’s a complicated game and I had them read the manual before coming to class, and I went through the basics of the rules before they got started. I saw a lot of skeptical faces (I teach at 8 o'clock on Friday morning) but as they got going they got used to the rules, and they all got quite into it. I was surprised every group actually decided to start another game when they finished the first round even though they didn’t have to. It really triggered a lot of good discussions in the groups about how this model does or does not accurately portray the biology of infections and the epidemiological methods used.

"It really triggered good discussion about the topic, 
at a deeper level than I was expecting."

That was the other part of this. When they were done they had a worksheet to fill out as a group identifying and explaining any inaccuracies they find with the game and what that means. How are diseases spread? What are common modes of transmission? Does the game reflect that? How do epidemiologist detect outbreaks? Then they had to find a way to modify the game to make it more accurate, yet still fun to play. I think that was a nice sort of wrapping up part of it. So they applied their knowledge to analyze this model but then they had to try and modify it while still working within the rules of the model itself. It was really fun. It went really well.

JR: Were there any unforeseen outcomes or surprises?
AB: Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but it really triggered good discussion about the topic, at a deeper level than I was expecting. It makes me want to find more ways to use games, which are in a lot of ways simulations of something that happens in life, and then be able to analyze what the rules are for that simulation and how they relate to the actual events themselves. It made me want to find more ways to use games in class.

JR: What’s been your favorite part?
AB: You know, it didn’t feel like learning. It didn’t feel like class. I want to try to have it be that way more and more. It almost felt I was tricking them into learning, but it was a great method for encouraging them to think deeply about this while not thinking that they’re doing that.

JR: Do you have plans for the future, for other courses?
AB: I don’t for anything new. So theres’ one other game I use in my courses and it's actually an online game that's called “Pandemic” but its totally unrelated to this board game. Pandemic II, is a little flash game online and I used it in both "Emerging Diseases" and "Microbiology," and its again a map of the world, but in this case you’re the pathogen, and your goal is to basically kill the whole world population. So there’s always students who get creeped out by it, but one thing I like is that it reflects the biology of bacteria, viruses, and eukaryotic pathogens because they all have different reproduction rates which affects their evolution rate. That’s how the game works, you accumulate evolution points over time to suddenly new traits arise, you’re resistant to the treatment, or things like that, so its another opportunity to have a little fun and apply their understanding.

Greetings! This post is to inform you about the new Moodle instance, changes to the Moodle policy and a reminder to backup copies of your current courses.

It is that time of year! The old Moodle instance will be archived and the new instance will be live on May 19. The old instance will be renamed to https://moodle2013.beloit.edu. A link to the archived instance will be posted on the Moodle Archive page. Faculty and students will have the same access they do now. The new Moodle instance will be live on May 19 and will be found at https://moodle.beloit.edu. If you would like to visit the site before May 19 (to work on your course sites) you may do so by navigating to https://moodle1415.beloit.edu. This instance is running version 2.6.x. There are some additional features in this version that should improve the working experience in Moodle. Below is a short list (see the full list here).
  • Go Paperless! Easily review and provide in-line feedback by annotating on PDF files directly within browser. (This should be available by the beginning of the Fall semester.) Watch this video for a preview about how it will function.
  • Conveniently allocate student assignments to different markers, and control when marks are released to individual students.
  • Quickly edit course activities and resources across all devices.

Changes to Moodle Policy We have updated the Moodle policy to reflect changes in how we manage Moodle instances.

  • A new Moodle instance will be created for each academic year. The current instance will be found at https://moodle.beloit.edu. New instances will be created over the winter break of the preceding academic year e.g. Moodle for 2015-16 will be created over winter break 2014-15.
  • In order to support Summer block courses in a timely manner, the Moodle instance for the just-completed academic year will be archived the week after commencement. The instance will be renamed to https://moodle1314.beloit.edu. Future instances will follow this convention (https://moodleyy1yy2.beloit.edu e.g. https://moodle1415.beloit.edu for the 2014-15 academic year). The renamed instance will be kept for four academic years and then be deleted. You can access the archive site(s) on the Moodle Archive page.
  • Academic courses and course enrollments are created automatically in Moodle through an integration between JICS (the Portal) and Moodle. New courses are generally added to Moodle after Advising week.

Backup and Restore
If you need to restore a course file for the fall 2014 semester that is larger than 100MB please contact your instructional technology liaison to assist.

Please make sure to back up and download copies of the courses you may want to use in the future. Instructions to do so can be found below.

Please contact Instructional Technology if you have any questions.

Happy Moodling!