I’ve spent a fair bit of time the past few weeks working in Moodle to create a randomized quiz for students visiting the museum where I work after their field trips, as well as a teacher evaluation survey. I am really enjoying the opportunity my new job role is affording me to create social media content and work with web 2.0 tools like Moodle, but I am finding these prospects unexpectedly challenging in many ways as well. I commented tonight on Twitter that I should have taken a course series in college on project management and accurate time estimation for job completion. I didn’t unfortunately, and although it is never to late to learn something new I am finding it difficult to balance the practical need to say “I can’t do that right now” or “That will take quite awhile to complete” with my innate desire to produce results and be extremely responsive to the needs and desires of my peers and supervisor.
As I finished the initial “draft” of our online Moodle randomized quiz solution today, it occurred to me that it is much more dangerous to utilize an open source solution for a “production need” in a case like this rather than just “experimenting” with it as I am with the courses I’m teaching this fall at our church. I’m proposing that my new department contract with Remote Learner next year for some formal Moodle support. I’m not expecting problems, but there can be a VERY dark side to “being your own tech support department,” and although I feel I have a great professional learning community to which I could (and do at times) reach out at need for technical assistance, I think I’ll feel a lot better paying for professional support assistance as we make Moodle an integral part of our educational outreach activities.
I was delighted to discover the Moodle Questionnaire activity module recently as I sought a way to create Likert-scale questions in a survey for teachers. An evaluation survey didn’t “fit” in the default Moodle quiz module options, but this questionnaire module fits the bill nicely. This was the first “add-on” module for Moodle I’ve downloaded, uploaded, configured and utilized. The process was very straightforward, and quite similar to the process of activating new plug-ins for WordPress. I uploaded the entire module directory to my “mod” directory on my Moodle server, and clicked the “Notifications” link under the Administration sidebar to have Moodle install and configure the new module. I did have to re-download an older version of the module based on the version of Moodle I’m running currently, but once I got that correct version it configured itself immediately without any problems.
In the process of figuring out how to use the Moodle quiz module I did learn what the “adaptive mode” is, and ended up choosing it with an equivalent penalty weight as the entire question has. This means students taking our quiz can attempt a question multiple times, and they can see whether they got the question right or wrong immediately, but their first answer is the one that will count.
I love how I was able to create six different question categories and then populate each category with questions which include photographs. The quiz itself draws random questions from each category, so we’ll be able to continue adding to the question bank in each category in the months ahead but will not have to clear or make changes to the quiz I’ve created itself: More question possibilities will simply become available as they are added to the bank.
To simplify the interface and the available options in our Moodle course, I learned I could “hide” unneeded module elements including the news section, the latest activity block, and the administration block as well. In addition to showing one of our part-time employees how to add additional multiple-choice questions to the quiz question database, I still need to create and customize a Moodle theme for our site which will integrate our logo and color scheme.
I really, REALLY like Moodle, and am so glad to have several opportunities this fall to get more first-hand experiences using and customizing Moodle to meet different learning management system requirements. I certainly don’t consider myself to be a Moodle guru, but I am comfortable now with the new title, “Moodle-dabbler.” 🙂
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