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Understanding student activity in Moodle

Steve Rowett7 August 2020

The reduction of on-campus teaching and students studying remotely provides a greater emphasis on understanding how they are engaging with the learning activities within their course.

Moodle does provide some tools for this, and anecdotally they are less well known than they might be. The tools range from a quick check on whether students are accessing a particular course, to a much more detailed view of who has completed which activities within a course. They provide a window into how students are doing but of course are only crude proxies for engagement and learning, and should also be supplemented by other information to understand and support our students as best we can.

Here’s a quick guide to three options based on questions you might want to ask.


When did students last access this course?

You can get a quick report of the last time each of your students accessed your Moodle course. This is particularly useful at the start of term for highlighting students who have never accessed your course and might be having access difficulties and need further support.

To view this report, go to Course Administration -> Users -> Enrolled Users. The Last Access to Course header of this table is clickable so you can sort by this field (clicking once will show those students who have never accessed this course, or have not accessed this course for the longest times, at the top of the table.

Table showing students enrolled on a Moodle course, including their most recent access to that course


Who has or has not viewed or participated in a given activity?

To understand engagement on a specific activity, use Course Participation reports. Find these at Course Administration -> Reports -> Course Participation. You will need to select an activity. In this case, we’re choosing an early activity where students say hello to each other. This is a forum called ‘Getting to know each other’. I select this from the Activity list, and select Students from the ‘Show only’ list, then click Go to get the following report:

A Moodle course participation report, showing that some students have been much more active in a discussion forum than others

This shows your students and indicates whether they have engaged with this activity with a Yes or No. The number in brackets shows the number of engagements, and gives a rough and ready guide, but I wouldn’t take it too literally as different people will normally use websites in different ways. Again the table headers are clickable, so clicking on All actions will order based on that column.

You can drill down a little further by choosing one of the options from the Show actions menu. In this case the options are View and Post. These terms are however slightly misleading, as they count other actions too, but give a broad measure of level of active contribution as compared to reading the work of others.

Finally you can quickly send a message to all students in a No in the actions column, but clicking on Select all ‘No’ and choosing Send a message from the dropdown.


How can I see if students have completed the activities across my course?

Activity completion is a tool in Moodle that lets you get an overview of student participation in all activities in your course. This does need to be set up in advance and is very flexible and configurable.

Once activity completion is turned on for your course, each activity in your course is marked either complete or incomplete for each student. Each activity with then be marked as complete based on student activity in a number of different ways:

  • The student themselves mark is as complete, using a checkbox next to the activity;
  • A simple ‘view’ of the activity marks it as complete;
  • A more complex set of criteria is established to mark the activity is complete. This depends on the type of activity but might be getting a certain mark on a quiz, or submitting a document to an assignment, or posting a message in a forum. These criteria are defined by the teacher on an activity-by-activity basis.

An illustrative screenshot of the report available is shown below. Here you can see that one student has gone ahead of the others, two are up to date, one is a little behind, and one has not completed any activities at all.

Activity completion report in Moodle showing which students have completed which activity according to criteria set by the teacherThe video below explains more about activity completion:

There is a Miniguide on activity completion and also a case study from Jane Burns of using it in UCL teaching.

Reporting across Moodle courses

A limitation is that these tools apply at the level of a Moodle course, which is normally a module, and this limits the ability to get an holistic view of the activities of any particular student. We are very aware of this limitation and are rapidly looking at options for providing a more holistic and student-centred reporting ability.

Connected Learning – Teaching tools and platforms

Clive Young24 July 2020

Links to the UCL Resource Centres for tools mentioned at the Town Hall today.

Live Teaching

Blackboard Collaborate is UCL’s web conferencing or online classroom platform. It is integrated within Moodle as an activity, providing access to a range of different functions in a live, or synchronous, learning environment. UCL Case StudyUsing Blackboard Collaborate to teach students across the world.

Zoom is coming to UCL and support information will be available then.

Teams, now universally used at UCL for meetings and one-to-one sessions, is not yet recommended for group teaching. There is no Moodle or Portico integration and Digital Education do not have the expertise (yet) support in its use for teaching.​

Virtual Cluster Rooms will provide direct access to cluster room PCs for computer-based classes. They Mirror the physical cluster rooms in virtual groups that will be timetabled in the same way and accessed via UCL Desktop Anywhere. More information and guidance about planning for laboratory and practice-based activities is also being developed.

Live/Asynchonous

Mentimeter (polling) is an online polling, questioning and voting tool that you can use in your classes or presentations, whether they are face-to-face or online, synchronous or asynchronous. UCL has a site-wide licence. UCL Case StudyEngaging students asynchronously with Mentimeter.

Visualisers and graphics tablets can assist online teaching. ISD have a limited stock of visualisers for circulation to lecturers. You can read more about options for writing and showing objectson this digital education blog post.

Asynchronous

Moodle has many tools that can help keep your students engaged and learning in the absence of face-to-face sessions. UCL Case StudyMoodle tools to make your teaching more interactive.

  • Discussion Forums are often considered the mainstay of online learning. Many staff already use the News forum to announce important information. ‘Learning forums’ can be used for asynchronous discussion (i.e. not ‘real time’) and learning activities. They enable both staff and students to post and reply to posts and are usually are set to allow students and staff to choose whether to become or remain subscribed to a forum. We recommend that Q&A forums are set up for students to ask questions about the course work or assessment processes. Make the purpose of every discussion forum clear, including how students are expected to engage with it and how often staff will reply to posts (if at all). If you want to speak to students in ‘real time’, for example for virtual Office Hours, you might want to try Moodle’s instant messaging style tool, Chat.
  • Quiz is the other popular tool for online engagement. A quiz is a useful way to test or evaluate students’ knowledge and to keep them motivated by letting them see areas for improvement. Marking can be automated on some question types (such as multiple choice). Staff can see a detailed breakdown of results, as well as statistics on how easy or discriminating each question is. It can be used for both formative and summative (credit bearing) assessment, such as in class tests or examinations, but the latter is usually done in a ‘live’ classroom, so for online learning summative quizzes are more normal.
  • Hot Question used to create a list of popular questions or topics from a group. Participants may ‘rate’ others’ questions. The more votes, the hotter the question and the higher up the list it will appear.
  • Book displays collections of web pages in a sequential, easy-to-navigate and printable format. They are especially useful when you have a lot of web content but don’t want it to clutter the front page of your course. Pages can contain links, images, embedded YouTube videos, etc and feature a Table of Contents.
  • Lessons can be used to build structured pathways through learning materials and test knowledge as students make progress. Students usually make choices on each page area, sending send them to another specific page in the manner of a decision tree.
  • H5P is a simple-to-use tool now integrated into Moodle to create interactive content such as drag and drop, fill in the blanks, flashcards, image hotspots, slideshows, games and formative quizzes (the results are not stored) directly within Moodle. UCL Case Study: Creating interactive video training guides in Moodle.

Lecturecast Universal Capture Personal (screen recording) is a stand-alone application which can be used to create recordings (captures). Recordings can include slides (or whatever you choose to show on your computer screen), video of the presenter and audio. Recordings can include slides (or whatever you choose to show on your computer screen), video of the presenter and audio. Lecturecast offers more than just video playback, though. With the Lecturecast Engagement tools,  tutors can set up interactive activities, to engage and support students.

ReadingLists@UCL is an online service that gives students easy access to materials on their reading lists, allowing academic staff to create and update their own reading lists.

LinkedIn Learning provides a vast range of video tutorials supporting learning in software, creative and business skills – all free to UCL staff and currently enrolled students.

Box of Broadcasts (BoB) is Learning on Screen’s on demand TV and radio service for education. The academically focused system allows staff and students to record programmes from over 75 free-to-air channels, and search BoB’s extensive archive of over 2.2 million recordings.

Student-led and collaboration

  • Reflect(WordPress blog) is a form of WordPress, the industry-standard blogging and website-building tool. Blogs may be used to help students reflect on their experiences during study, build a portfolio of their work, collaborate on projects and create public-facing materials. UCL Case StudyMedical Science students use UCL Reflect to create scientific blogs for assessment.
  • MyPortfolio is a very flexible tool which can be used as a portfolio, for blogging, CV builder, social networking system, connecting UCL students and staff and creating online communities. MyPortfolio provides you with the tools to set up a personal learning environment and can also be used to support group work.
  • Office365​, is of course ubiquitous at UCL, but the educational possibilities are not always appreciated. LinkedIn Learning includes a useful overview ‘Office 365 for Educators’.

Mentimeter at UCL

Steve Rowett9 July 2020

We’re pleased to announce that we now have a site licence for Mentimeter at UCL, meaning that any teacher or student can use it free of charge. Our Mentimeter Resource Centre provides training and guidance to get you started.

Mentimeter is an online polling, questioning and voting tool that you can use in your teaching, whether it is online or face-to-face, synchronous or asynchronous. Mentimeter offers a wide variety of question types that you can use with your students to promote active learning:

Icons for different question types in Mentimeter, including multiple choice, free text response, ranking and image-based questions

Icons for different question types in Mentimeter, including multiple choice, free text response, ranking and image-based questions

It will eventually replace the TurningPoint ‘clickers’ that were installed in some lecture theatres and were available to loan. Educationally, the two services are very similar, but Mentimeter can be used anywhere – including for synchronous and asynchronous online teaching – without the need for physical handsets. It also allows more flexible question types such as word cloud and text responses, unlike the more limited TurningPoint numeric keypads. And you can even include LaTeX formatting in your Mentimeter slides.

To sign up for Mentimeter go to https://www.mentimeter.com/join/ucl. You will be redirected to log in using Single Sign On, with your standard UCL username and password. And then you’ll be straight in to Mentimeter and able to start making your first presentation.

If you already have a Mentimeter account (free or paid) using your UCL email address, this should convert to our site licence and you will no longer be charged for it. Any presentations or results that you already have attached to that account will be preserved.

If you have an existing Mentimeter account (free or paid) using a personal non-UCL email address, then you can either just create one with your UCL email address, or we can transfer your old presentations and results over on request.

Mentimeter have some great resources on putting your slides together. It’s all done online with no need for a fiddly PowerPoint toolbar. Instead, you just click the ‘Present’ button in Mentimeter and your questions appear full screen.

If you are teaching a live session online, then you run the presentation at ‘presenter pace’ which is the default method. You can share the window in Blackboard Collaborate, Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Students can vote or contribute from a web browser on their laptop or phone, and you see the results in real time as your students enter them.

You can also run a presentation in ‘audience pace’ mode where students complete questions at their own pace, and possibly at different times. It’s an effective tool for asynchronous activities, so for example you might ask students to complete an activity at the start of the week and review their contributions at the end of the week. You still get to see their contributions in real time as they are made.

Dr Silvia Colaiacomo from the UCL Arena Centre has written a case study on the use of Mentimeter for student engagement during asynchronous teaching.

To give you some examples of what you can do with Mentimeter, here are some different question types showing how the results are presented after an audience response.


A graph showing the results of a multiple choice question and the correct answer in Mentimeter

A graph showing the results of a multiple choice question and the correct answer in Mentimeter


Sliders allow participants to show levels of support for various statements in Mentimeter

Sliders allow participants to show levels of support for various statements in Mentimeter


 

Free text responses shown as a word cloud in Mentimeter

Free text responses shown as a word cloud in Mentimeter


 

Remote but not solo, Moodle and Group Work

Samantha Ahern24 June 2020

Social learning is an important part of the learning experience for students. It enables knowledge consolidation and application, and opportunities for cross-curricula and inter-disciplinary learning. In addition, through working in groups students are able to develop valuable employability skills such as collaboration, communication, problem-solving and negotiation. However, group work can be tricky to design and mange effectively and needs careful consideration. I recommend reading: Burke, A. (2011). Group work: How to use groups effectively. Journal of Effective Teaching, 11(2), 87-95.

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Moodle can be used to facilitate this rich learning experience through use of the group feature. Separate groups allow students to contribute and see work within their own groups,  visible groups on the other hand allow students to only contribute to their own group work but they can view work taking place in other groups.

The following activities could be set up for collaboration amongst groups of students:

  1. Forum: create a forum (just one),  assign students to groups, students will only see post made in their group,  give students a clear task. – staff can review what is happening in each group. For more information and links case to studies see the Discussion Forums MiniGuide.
  2. Chat: group chat sessions-  create a space where students can arrange to meet and work collaboratively on a task. For more information see the MoodleDocs article Using Chat.
  3. Glossary: In groups or as a cohort build a glossary of key terms that students may encounter on the course. Might be really useful e.g for medical terms. Each time the term is used on the course a defintion will be highlighted. For more information and links case to studies see the Glossary MiniGuide.
  4. Database: share resources and entries e.g. create a collaborative resource bank, or peer review of shared work. For more information about how to use databases and ideas for usage see the MoodleDocs article Using Databases.
  5. Workshop: enables students to peer review work submitted by others. Students can be assigned work to review or students can be assigned work to review randomly. There is a lot to be considered and set-up for the effective use of Moodle workshops, their use needs to be carefully planned in advance for them to be a meaningful part of a module’s design. For more information see the Moodle workshop for peer assessment MiniGuide.

Related Arena case studies

Some of these case studies make use of Moodle, others do not. But all discuss an element of group work that could be modified for a Connected Learning and facilitated via Moodle.

 

Teaching videos: which platform should I choose?

Eliot Hoving12 June 2020

Decorative.

As you prepare your Moodle course for next term, in addition to vital asynchronous activities, you will likely want to add a few videos of yourself or a screen recording of your lecture. By now you’re probably aware that UCL has a plethora of technologies. This is partly a necessity, as UCL teaching practices vary so no single tool will get the job done for everyone, but sometimes it’s a little unclear which to use.

 

To help you decide, Digital Education with help from the Digital Media team and IT for SLASH team has put together this comparison table of the three centrally supported media platforms: Lecturecast, Mediacentral and Microsoft Stream.

 

The table hopes to clarify some of the common questions; e.g.

  • Does the platform allow students to download recordings?
  • Can I upload a pre-recorded video e.g. a video recorded in PowerPoint?
  • Can I restrict who views the video?
  • Can I see analytics on whose watched the video?

 

If you need further advice on creating and sharing video, please contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

 

H5P News

Janina Dewitz12 June 2020

Good news for anyone who is looking to make their Moodle courses even more interactive: as of today, several previously unavailable activities are now ready for you to try out.

All new modules are now available under “Interactive Content” in the list of available Moodle activities. Let’s dive in and see what’s available!

Among the new activities we have added are the beta version of the Branching Scenario, the Questionnaire tool and the 360 Virtual Tour module. The latter allows you, for example, to create an interactive walk-through of your lab or department right inside your Moodle course. All you need to get started are static images or, even better, 360 photo spheres of a location. Add information cards, navigation and even audio to make the experience even more immersive.

If you are looking for icebreaker tasks, you might like to try out the Personality Quiz maker. It allows you to create a series of multiple choice questions where each answer option corresponds to one or more predefined “personality types”/profiles/categories. Head over to the H5P example page to see the Personality Quiz in action. Or find out what kind of Moodler you are in our own lighthearted personality quiz (login required).

The Word Search and the Memory game may seem like frivolous additions to the toolbox, but used creatively, the memory game, for example, can be adapted to serve as a “Flashcard race against the time” to aid revision of terminology. Here’s one I made earlier to illustrate the point:

We would love to hear how you are using these activities in your courses – what will you create? Share your ideas and links to your creations in the comments below.

For more information about all the H5P activities we have in our UCL Moodle, please refer to our set of Mini Guides.