Showing posts from 2014

Moodle Triage Session and Open office hours

UPDATE (2/24/15)
We will be cancelling the remaining office hours in favor of providing 'in-time' support. We are happy to meet with anyone on an as-needed basis. Please feel free to contact adam or Jedidiah with questions or concerns regarding Moodle.

UPDATE: New Location
Beginning January 26, all Moodle office-hours will be held in the LITE Room, located on the lower level of the Library. If you have questions about this please contact Jedidiah or Adam.

Moodle Drop-In Sessions
We will be making ourselves available for Moodle questions during open office hours during the common hour (12:30-1:20), Monday through Friday of next semester. The first session will be Tuesday, January 20. Come with your "in time" Moodle questions. No topic is off limits. 
Drop-In Schedule MonthDatesJanuary20, 21, 22, 23
26, 27, 28, 29, 30February2, 3, 4, 5, 6
9, 10, 11, 12, 13
16, 17, 18, 19, 20
23, 24, 25, 26, 27March2, 3, 4, 5, 6
16, 17, 18, 19, 20
23, 24, 25, 26, 27
30, 31April1, 2, 3
6, 7…

Google Form to Document with Autocrat

One recent request I have received is a way to take information submitted into a Google Form and then create a document (Google doc or otherwise) with that information. After some searching I found the Autocrat add-on.

This add-on functions like a mail merge, but with a few more features. You can install it on any Google sheet, including a form response sheet. This allows you to create either a Google document or PDF from the form submissions. The add-on requires that you create a template document with embedded merge tags. These are easily created by closing text between double chevrons, like so, "<<your_tag>>" The template and merge tags may be formatted however you like.

Autocrat allows you to set up conditional merging, meaning you can create two (or possibly more) different templates and Autocrat will use the conditions you set up to choose which template is used to create the merged document.

I can see many applications for this add-on. Aside from those su…

Blogger Comments

Thanks to a friendly instructor (who also blogs) I discovered that the commenting system on this blog was non-functional.

I found this post. Most browsers block third-party cookies by default. This is causes an issue when the the blog is set to use embedded commenting. A person enters a comment and then nothing happens. This seems to have been a problem for awhile as I found this blog post from 2012 about the same problem.

Pop-up comments: The recommendation in the forum post linked above is to enable this or full page comments. The pop-up really works well and allows a person to still see the blog they are commenting on. Any previous comments are listed in the pop-up so replies are easy to make as well. Once a comment is posted it appears under the blog post. The one downside to this is that it does not appear to allow threaded comments.

To enable this:
Navigate to Posts and Comments Select "Pop-up window" from the comment location drop-down menu.

Moodle Quiz Docs [UPDATE]

I recently came across some Moodle documentation describing some strategies for making the Moodle quiz as effective as possible.
I posted links to our internal quiz documentation earlier this year and thought this would make a welcome addition. I have updated that post to include the link above and will be updating our internal documentation to include the link as well.

A couple of the ideas that I think bear a highlight here include recommendations for security, and creating random variants of questions.

Because Moodle is a digital/internet venue it is possible for students to copy or print questions and answers. Depending on how the quiz is setup this may make it possible for a student to reproduce a quiz in its entirety. The documentation shares strategies to minimize the possibility and effect that this may have. Creating question variants is one such strategy. While it may take more time on the frontend to create the questions and variants, doing so will make a quiz more robust …

Moodle Quiz Docs

In preparation for a new academic year, we have published documentation about the Moodle quiz activity. This activity is a powerful tool for assessment and as a learning aid.

There are a number of different question types that you may use in a Moodle quiz. Click this link to see a list and description of each. One benefit to using the Moodle quiz is that most question types are graded automatically. It is also possible to determine what feedback is shown to students and when so that the quiz may be used as a study aid.

You may access the quiz documentation below. Please contact Instructional Technology if you have any questions.

Moodle Quiz: Home
Moodle Quiz: Basic
Moodle Quiz: Advanced
Moodle Quiz: Question Bank
Moodle Quiz: Grading

Moodle Resources
Effective Quiz Practices

MS Word: Finding Words With a Particular Format

Did you know that you can find words with a particular format in Microsoft Word? It is possible. The following instructions are for MS Word Mac 2011. The steps should be similar to the Windows version.

To find words with particular formatting:

Open the document.In the menu bar click Edit > Find > Advanced Find and Replace.In the Find section select Font from the "Format" drop-down.In the Font Style column click on Italic.Click OK.Click the Find Next button to cycle through all the words with the chosen format.Click OK when Word finishes searching the document. Click the following link to see a demonstration of this:

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 ca…

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.

[View the story "THATCamp MKE" on Storify]

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…

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 t…
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 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 If you would like to visit the site before May 19 (to work on your course sites) you may do so by navigating to 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 bro…

Blendkit 2014: Reaction to Chapter 1

Hello! Amidst the flurry of the end of the semester I (Jedidiah) decided to signup for a MOOC offered through Educause centering around how to design for a blended learning experience. This first post is a reaction to the first assigned reading.

I think this chapter provides a good summary of what blended learning can and should be. It codifies and specifies what I had in my own mind about blended learning.

One question it brought up for me is, what does a "properly implemented" blended learning experience look like? it really could be different for each and every scenario, but really comes down to planning. Careful attention should be paid first to the desired outcomes of the class and from that are developed the specific activities/experiences. Once these are identified then the instructor/designer may go about determining which of these learning activities are best suited for face-to-face experience and which are best suited to an online medium.

Google Engine Maps

Google Engine Maps Lite provides you with an easy way to create a custom map by uploading locations and detailed data. (click the image to see a larger version).

Want to create a map of the Tour de France start and finishes? Upload a spreadsheet with the city/country and name of the stage. 
Need a visual of unemployment in Wisconsin? Upload a Google Doc of the cities and their percentages. Use the customization tools to better illustrate the information. Click this link for instructions on how to use this tool.
This information was presented on by Meghan Dowell during a drop-in session at the Library. This and other topics will be visited again over the course of the semester. If you would like to see the full schedule, please visit this page.

Library Resources Moodle Block

We just added another resource to Moodle - a Library Resources (by subject) block!

After adding the block to your course you will have quick access to databases suited to the subject of your course. Clicking a link in the Library Resources block will take you to a page of carefully curated resources of databases and media for specific disciplines to simplify your and your students research. Keep an eye on these pages over the next couple weeks as the format will be changing to provide you even better support.

To add the block to your course:

1. Open your course.
2. Turn editing on.
3. Click the Add block... drop-down menu.
4. Select "Library Resources" from the list.

Once the block has been added to your course, you may move/place it where ever you feel is best.

Drop-In Session: Annotating PDF

The library recently hosted a drop-in session about annotating PDF files, facilitated by Consulting Librarian, Meghan Dowell. During the session Meghan shared how it is possible to annotate PDF files. This has so many applications from grading to taking notes to collaboration. Adding sticky notes, highlighting text, attaching documents and recording audio and more are possible with a free application. What is it you may ask? Your friendly neighborhood Adobe Reader.

Below are some examples of the annotation tasks you can accomplish with Adobe Reader. (Click a thumbnail to see the full image.)

Highlighting Text

Add a Note to Text

Delete and Add Text

You may access the full notes from the session here.

More drop-in sessions are scheduled. Faculty, staff and students are welcome. Topics include: Moodle, Google Engine Maps, Research tools and strategies, Google Sites and Blogger. If you are interested in seeing the full schedule for the drop-in sessions please visit this webpage.

Click this l…

Fall 2013 Courses Archived

All the courses from Fall 2013 have been archived according to the Moodle Policy. This means that students no longer have access to them. Faculty should still be able to access the courses from the My Courses block. Please contact Instructional Technology if you have any questions.

Clickers in the Classroom

Instructional Technology had the opportunity to attend a webinar sponsored by iClicker and hosted by Dr. Stephanie Chasteen. The webinar discussed strategies for using "clickers" (student response systems) effectively in a class.

The strategies shared during the presentation may be used with any "clicker" system. Dr. Chasteen also shared a little about the pedagogy of peer instruction and its effectiveness.

Among the tips offered were the following:

Create student buy-in - Student buy-in is key. Do what you can to make the use of clickers a worthwhile experience.Use good questions - Stay away from rote memory type questions or those that allow patter matching. Good questions require reasoning.Wait to share poll results and answers as long as possible - doing so will create interest and aid discussion/learning.Establish a safe, respectful environment - encourage sharing of ideas, don't show the results (histograms/answers) right away, ask multiple students to de…

Creative Commons and You

Citation and giving credit to authors/makers/creators is more important today than ever before. A simple copy and paste make it very easy to use materials that are not yours. In his article on the MakeUseOf blog, Danny Stieben shares what creative commons is and why it is important. His article serves as a great resource if you have questions about creative commons. Click the link below to read the article.

Gmail and Google+ integration

You may have seen mention that Google has made one more step to ensuring that Google+ is integrated into all their services. The default has been turned off for all accounts. This may however affect any personal account you may have. If you would like to turn this feature off, please feel free to follow the steps in this Lifehacker article.