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Moodle Help

This guide is designed to assist Earlham faculty with Moodle questions. Moodle 3.8 is Earlham's learning management system that assists with teaching and learning.

Tips: Instructor Presence

  • Offer virtual office hours using Zoom. If everyone is in the same time zone, it’s easier. All in the USA, still somewhat easy. Distributed globally, synchronous communication is difficult to schedule. If your office hours last more than 40 minutes, contact ITS for an Earlham Zoom account.

  • Post short video announcements or voice recordings about topics using tools like QuickTime (Mac), a webcam of your choice, or an easy audio recorder like Vocaroo.

  • Every [Monday], send an email, voice recording, or short talking-head webcam video reminding students of what is due for the upcoming week.

Tips: Online Discussions

Asking Questions

  • Ask open-ended questions not focused ones: case studies, open sharing, controversial issues.

  • Invoke: course readings (require cited references), student personal experiences, and learning activities from that week. 

  • Clearly state what you want them to ask/discuss.

  • Give parameters for the length of the discussion post and due date/time.

  • Give parameters for the length of responses to one or two peers  and due date/time.


Facilitating Discussions

  • Log into the discussion frequently during the week.

  • Read a few posts each day; interject if things go off-track.

  • Respond to some students per discussion but not all. 

    • Could be counter-productive to do so and is time-consuming. 

    • Respond to students:

      • Who seem to be struggling

      • Who ask questions only you can answer, 

      • Who are doing really well (occasional spotlight praise).

  • Respond to every student at least 1-2 times weekly.

  • If a discussion becomes inappropriate or disrespectful, take it offline and respond to student/s via email or a personal phone call/Skype/etc.


Course Logistics

Tips: Online Lectures

All-Important Basics

  • Don't believe the hype. The majority of online lectures worldwide are "homemade" videos recorded by a faculty member narrating a slide deck on their computer and/or using their webcam -- even at large state universities and for-profit online institutions. Many larger schools do sometimes use studio recording and post-production editing by a specialist professional, but these are the exception.
  • Test your computer microphone and/or headset in advance. 
  • Length of lecture is a big deal. Keep it brief: 6 to 15 minutes. Here is an overview of what the research says from online learning quality assurance provider, Quality Matters, used throughout higher education. 
  • If your 45-minute lecture is imperative, chunk it into smaller segments (i.e. a series of shorter videos).
  • Speak slowly if at all possible. This will help automatic captions. See separate documentation on captioning.
  • It's OK to flub your lines, etc. This is where shorter lectures make things easier for you. You don't necessarily need to start over unless you think your lecture needs major improvement. Remember the power of the pause button.
  • Start your lecture with a brief request for students to focus on the material. This is not patronizing. A student might be an Earlham librarian watching your lecture in a crowded airport departure lounge, with four windows open on their computer while they check email on their phone and eat a sandwich. We all need help to focus.
  • Inform students what they should be particularly tracking as you transition to new segments:
    • "Be sure to understand the 5 characteristics of X."
    • "As we begin the next section, recall the 4 elements of Z and pay particular attention to how they link with the 2 types of Q that I'll be introducing as we move forward."
  • Moving an on-ground course online does not mean pushing all of your lectures online. That's a very bad idea. In other words, if you lecture for 150 minutes every week in your MWF 8-8:50a course, please avoid recording 150 minutes of equivalent lectures every week and putting them in Moodle. Instructional designers worldwide are working with faculty to disabuse them of doing so. Please contact a librarian with questions and we're happy to consult with you:

Tips: Academic Integrity and Online Quizzes

In an online environment there is not a real way to prevent students from taking quizzes and finals with open books or open note. Because of all the ways that students can look up information and talk to their classmates, it may be better to embrace it. Instead of thinking of quizzes as a way to assess student memorization before attempting a quiz, think of it as an activity, to reinforce or support lessons from class or course readings. Some examples of alternative approaches to quizzes:

  • Apply a concept that was covered in class to an example that wasn't exactly discussed or included in the text book, so that answers can't be found in open notes or open textbooks.
  • Allow students to retake exams multiple times and let the highest score count.
  • Ask questions about concepts instead of exact answers.
  • Give students a list of options that are not an exact thing, but ask them to pick which one is most like the thing. (None of these songs are by Beethoven -- which is the most like Beethoven)
  • Change from multiple choice questions to open ended responses.
  • Have students engage in a real-world related skill, such as writting a review, writing a report, etc.

If you do want to keep using traditional quizzes in Moodle, there are a few tweaks one could make in the settings that could make it slightly more difficult for students to share answers:

  • Change when correct answers are revealed.

Moodle's default setting is to let students see all the complete answers as soon as they finish their quiz attempt. Instead, one can change it so that the correct answers are not revealed until after the time to take the quiz is over. Go to Quiz Settings, under Review Options. Uncheck all the options in the first three columns, making it so results and correct answers are not revealed until after the quiz is closed. 

  • Shuffle the order of questions.

On the "Edit Quiz" page, which lists all the questions for the quiz, in the top right corner is a box you can click, "Shuffle". This will make it so all the questions are asked, but that the order will be different for each student attempting it. 

  • Question Bank

You can set up a bank of questions -- many different questions and students get a random sampling of questions, so not every student gets the exact same set of questions. This is much more work for the faculty, and perhaps less fair for students if there is varying difficulty in the questions in the bank.

  • Randomize Answer Order

Answer order can be shuffled within questions, making it harder to share answers (i.e., the correct answer will be A for Student 1 and B for Student 2).

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