|Site:||Solent Online Learning|
|Course:||Learning Technologies Staff Help and Support|
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|Date:||Friday, 2 June 2023, 8:41 AM|
Table of contents
- Communication tools
- Text tools
- File management tools
Communication is a very important part of the learning process.
Effective communication can be facilitated online using various tools in SOL that support one-to-one or one-to-many communication; blogs, forums, wikis and other tools can be used to extend learning beyond the classroom.
This chapter will look at the following tools and how they can be used:
The 'Calendar' can display site, course, group, user and category events in addition to assignment and quiz deadlines, chat times and other course events. Note the colour coding on the screenshot below.
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - Calendar.
The 'Chat' tool allows tutors to:
- have real-time synchronous discussion via a SOL page
- have an instant chat with students online on a set date and time
- to save past chat sessions so content can be reviewed, summarised and shared.
Instant feedback, information or formative assessment of an individual or individuals can be gathered by sending a quick message In SOL using the Chat Bubble which is at the top of the screen next to the user's name:
In the 'Search' field, the name of the student can be typed and then selected:
The person who has been messaged will then be sent an immediate email notification.
Live 'Chat' Tool
Text-based discussions in real time are possible with the 'Chat' tool in SOL. The screenshot below shows how to set up these discussions to be one-offs or repeated at the same time either daily or weekly. Chats can also be set up so that the tutor and all students can refer back to past chat sessions as in the screenshot below:
The chat function is useful for:
- providing a real-time group space for Q and A or to share experiences and opinions
- using the above to make real-time formative assessments on a group or individuals
- providing a space for students who may have been absent to raise questions and queries
- creating a centralised space to build a record of module-based discussions
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - Chat.
FeedbackThe 'Feedback' tool is used for creating and conducting surveys to collect information. This could be used for evaluation purposes or for informal student assessment.
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - Feedback.
The 'Forum' is a very powerful tool that promotes engagement and interactivity. It can be used for many innovative purposes in educational settings, but teaching forums and student forums are arguably the two more significant distinctions.
There are two forums already featured in the units on SOL:
- Module conversations - this forum provides direct contact to the participants on your unit. It has a 'forced' subscription which means everyone on the unit is subscribed and they cannot remove themselves. You can add a post, this will be emailed to your students (and they will also receive a notification on SOL). Students can reply to these but cannot start a discussion.
- Frequently Asked Questions - this forum is good for class discussions. However, it has an 'optional' subscription so participants can choose whether to subscribe. Students would go to this forum online to view the questions and answers as they wouldn't be emailed to them. This could be changed in the settings to a 'forced' subscription.
There are four types of 'Forums' that can be used:
- Standard forum for general use (default)
- Single, simple discussion
- Question and answer
- Standard forum displayed like a blog.
The 'Scheduler' tools allows tutors to schedule one-to-one appointments with students.
Tutors can specify periods of availability and the length of each appointment. The students then book themselves into one of the available time slots.
Group appointments can also be set up using the standard group settings within a course.
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - Scheduler.
The 'Quickmail' block adds a link to a tool that has a checkbox list of all participants on the unit, and a place to compose an email.
This enhances the existing communications systems of messaging (one user) and subscribed forums (all subscribers) by allowing tutors to select a specific subset of students.
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - Quickmail.If you cannot see the Quickmail block
1. Turn Editing on
2. At the bottom of the left-hand menu choose Add a block
3. Choose Quickmail
4. The Quickmail block will be accessible at the bottom of the right-hand column
There are many ways to add and display content in SOL. Having a consistent approach makes it easier for students to find and make use of valuable content.
This chapter will look at the following tools and how they can be used:
The 'Book' tool makes it easy to create multi-page resources with a book-like format, using chapters and sub-chapters.
It is not an interactive tool but can be used to link to documents, forums, choices etc. and display other objects like videos and images. Books and individual chapters may be printed by selecting the relevant link in 'Settings' > 'Book Administration'.
The 'Glossary' tool can be used to create and maintain a list of definitions, like a dictionary. The entries can be searched or browsed in different ways. Entries can include rich media such as images and links.
Entries from one glossary can be exported to another within the same unit and will be automatically linked.
The 'Blog' tool can be used to create individual blogs and course blogs (shared by a cohort or by a specific group of students).
These blogs can be part of a summative or formative exercise, and can be set to be private (only visible to the student and the tutor), open to fellow students, or open to everyone on the Internet.
How to Set Up Group Blogs
Group blogs can be set up informally, by creating and naming separate blogs (eg Group A blog etc) and by selecting No, blog together or in groups in the settings for 'Individual blogs'. The tutor can then tell the students which group and blog to use.
Alternatively, blogs can be set up so that only pre-defined students will be able to access the blog-this is useful if there is a requirement for the work assigned and communications that take place within it to remain private. The steps below outline how to set up a group blog with restricted access but for help with this, don't hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
STEP 1: First, students will need to be put into student groups on SOL. This page explains how to create groups.
STEP 2: In SOL, from 'Add an activity or resource' select 'Blog' from the 'Activities' options. Then, in the settings for 'Individual blogs', select the option No, blog together or in groups as in the screenshot below:
STEP 3: In the settings, select Add restriction in the Restrict Access section:
The option for Group will then need to be selected:
The group of students who can access this blog then need to be selected from the 'Group' drop-down followed by clicking Add restriction:
STEP 4: Click Save and return to course.
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - OU Blog.
The 'Label' can be used to add text, images, multimedia or other HTML elements. It is very versatile and can help to improve the appearance of a course if used thoughtfully.
A label can also be used to create space where there is a lot of content.
To increase the size of the icon add fa-2x inside the brackets e.g. [fa-*** fa-2x]
The icon colour can be changed by highlighting the [fa-***] code and selecting a colour from the palette
Text can be styled by selecting the text, clicking the dropper icon and selecting a style.
Icons can also be combined with styles:
The 'Text editor' (sometimes referred to as the 'HTML Editor') is used for adding, editing and formatting text.
It is present in many different areas of SOL, including editing section headings, adding a description of an activity, writing an answer to a quiz question or editing the content of many blocks.
For more information. see docs.moodle.org - Text editor.
File management tools
Effectively using SOL file management tools and repositories can really help to improve the learning experience for students.
There are a number of different ways to upload a file and organise resources in SOL so students can access the materials they need in a timely and up-to-date fashion.
This chapter will look at the following tools and how they can be used:
The 'File' resource type can be used to upload and display a variety of resources on SOL (for example, PowerPoint, Word document, Excel sheet etc.).
Where possible, the file will be displayed within the SOL interface; otherwise students will be prompted to download it.
There are two ways to add files; drag and drop files on unit pages (with editing turned on) or adding a file through 'Add an activity of resource'.
A 'Folder' can be used to provide students with a a collection of files and documents.
The resources may be of different types and they may be uploaded in one go, as a zipped folder which is then unzipped, or can be added one at a time to an empty folder on the page. It is also possible to drag and drop multiple files directly into this folder, which is quick and easy.
Images can be used to illuminate content, highlight, contextualise or to raise topics and questions, as well as decoration.
SOL allows teachers and students to upload and display images from a variety of sources via the image icon of the 'Text editor'.
Assignments can include images for extra clarification. Images attached to forum posts or quiz questions will appear embedded.
The 'Page' tool creates a (web) page of content using the SOL 'Text editor'.
A 'Page' can include text, images, video, audio, links, and any other content that the 'Text editor' allows. This is similar to adding a Word or PDF document, but allows you to create and edit the content within SOL quickly.
The 'Private files' area is for holding files, for use on any SOL page, that remain inaccessible to students and other course developers or tutors.
Each tutor has a 'Private files' area for uploading and managing a set of files; add the 'Private files' block to a SOL page to access your files.
The 'Sharing cart' allows a resource or activity to be shared amongst SOL pages; simply add the 'Sharing cart' block to the units that need resources sharing with.
- Click the 'Copy to Sharing Cart' in the 'Edit' drop-down menu next to resource.
- The resource will appear in the 'Sharing Cart' block which then be used on other units by clicking 'Copy to Course'.
For more information, docs.moodle.org - Sharing cart (see section on Operation).
Using Sharing Cart to copy a tab to another module
1. Firstly Turn editing on on the course where the source tab is.
2. If the course/module does not already have the sharing cart (you can check by looking for the block in the right-hand side of the page), then Add a block by clicking on the button in the bottom of the left-hand menu in SOL
3. Choose Sharing Cart from the list.
4. A Sharing Cart block will now appear on the right-hand side of the page. Go to the tab you want to copy and click on Edit Section in the top right-hand corner of the tab.
5. Select Copy to Sharing Cart.
Click OK on the following prompt.
6. Go to the target page where you want to copy the tab and add a new blank tab.
7. Again, if the course/module does not already have the sharing cart, add it to the target page by choosing Add a block as before.
8. Now click on the icon in the Sharing Cart to the right of the tab name.
9. At the bottom of the new tab you have created there will be a rectangle, click on this to import the tab.
10. Select the second option if you wish to import into the blank tab.
11. Click Continue and the copy will complete.
URL stands for 'Universal Resource Locator' and this is a link on the internet to a website or resource (such as a PDF). To share a web link, for either information purposes or for research, use the 'URL resource' tool to share the links on SOL.
SOL has a great variety of tools and resources that can be used improve student engagement. Tutors can also embed content from other sources to improve interactivity.
This chapter will look at the following tools and how they can be used:
Audio is a very powerful tool to use, allowing students, for example to catch up on lectures they missed, learn from podcasts, or improve their language skills.
There are three ways to add audio to a SOL page:
- Linking to a sound file online elsewhere - using the 'URL' tool to link to the relevant page on the internet.
- Uploading audio - drag and drop the audio file onto the SOL page or upload from a computer using the 'Files' tool.
- Embedding a sound file in its own player - using the SOL 'Text editor' select the 'Media' button or 'HTML' button to embed code.
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - Audio.
Digital badges can be used to celebrate achievement or to show progress. Badges can be awarded to students automatically upon successfully completing a set of activities or meeting certain criteria (eg posting in forums on a weekly basis, completing a quiz, regularly adding blog posts) or they can be awarded manually by a tutor. They can work well as means to give students additional motivation to participate and can work well with activity completion (see the activity completion page for more on this). Digital badges can also be shared on social media platforms, including LinkedIn.
In SOL, these badges are displayed on the students profile or in a 'public badges backpack'.
There are two types of badges:
- Site badges
- Course badges
Creating and Issuing Badges
Below are some instructions outlining the steps but for help creating and setting up digital badges, don't hesitate to contact email@example.com. The example below is a badge to encourage regular forum usage.
Before Creating A Badge
Before creating a badge, 'Activity completion' may need to be set up. In the forum user badge example below, 'Activity completion' has been set up on each of the different forums so that students must post once and must also reply to 2 other students in order for the forum task to be considered complete:
How to Create a Badge
STEP 1: From underneath the editing cog, select More >Add a new badge:
STEP 2: Name the badge, give it a description and add an image to be used for the badge:
STEP 3: Click on Create badge (other details eg name, email etc can be added to the badge using the boxes below before clicking Create badge-in the example below these fields have been left blank):
How to Assign Criteria to a Badge and Award It
Once Create badge has been clicked, a screen to assign criteria to the badge is shown (see screenshot below). The steps below outline the process to assign the criteria to the newly created 'Expert Forum User' badge.
STEP 1: On this screen, in the 'Add badge criteria' box, select Activity completion from the drop-down options:
STEP 2: Scroll down until the tasks to be assigned to the badge are visible and check the boxes next to them (see screenshot below). Then:
- In the 'This criterion is complete when...' section, check the option All of the selected activities are complete>Save:
STEP 3: Click Enable access (see screenshot below). This will make the badge ‘live’ and mean that students can now have the badge automatically awarded if all the badge component tasks have been completed. Once one student has been awarded the badge it will become locked and cannot be revoked so check all the correct tasks have been assigned to the badge (as in the screenshot below) before enabling it.
STEP 4: On the next screen, click Continue if happy with the badge and settings:
The screen below will then appear with a message saying that the badge is currently available to students:
Editing a Badge
If changes need to be made to a badge, click on the Disable access box (see the screenshot above) which then navigates back to an earlier screen where changes can be made by clicking on ‘Edit details’ .
The screenshot below shows what the Edit details screen looks like. To edit the badge, the steps outlined above will need to be repeated and then click on Enable access again to make the badge 'live' and available to students.
All created badges and status can be seen by clicking on the ‘More’ cog from underneath the editing cog wheel and then Manage badges:
A list of any badges that have been created for the module will then appear along with information about availability, the criteria assigned followed by the number of students who have been issued the badge. The final column on the right allows the tutor to disable access, edit, copy or delete the badge.
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - Badges.
The 'Certificate' tool creates PDF certificates/diplomas for students based on predefined conditions set by the tutor.
You can add borders, watermarks, seals, signatures, outcomes, grades, add custom text to a certificate via the 'Settings' menu.
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - Certificate.
The 'Checklist' tool allows a tutor to create a checklist for students to work through.
The students can tick off each item on the list, as it is completed and the resulting progress of the class can be monitored by the tutor. The student is also rewarded with a progress bar that shows how far through the checklist they have managed to get.
Tutors can add as many checklists as desired in any section of a SOL module page.
To learn more about how assessment checklists can support student achievement, see our video here on 'Beating the attainment gap'.
How to create a checklist in SOL
It's easy to create a checklist that students can use to assess progress towards learning outcomes etc. To create one:
1. In SOL, click Add an activity or resource and then in the 'Resources' section, select Checklist from the list.
2. Checklist items can be created by writing them in the box and then clicking Add as in the screenshot below (on the right-hand side, there are icons for editing, deleting or moving checklist items on the list):
3. Useful URLs can also be added to each of the checklist items by pasting into the 'Link to' box:
4. The URL links will appear as blue icons next to the checklist items as in the screenshot below:
See docs.moodle.org - Checklist for more information.
'SCORM' stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model It is a technical standard for building eLearning materials.
It s a collection of specifications that enable interoperability, accessibility and reusability of web-based learning content. SCORM content can be delivered to students via any SCORM-compliant Learning Management System (LMS) using the same version of SCORM.It means that packages can be created through programmes such as iSpring or they can be bought in. This tool can be used with a variety of SCORM packages but they cannot be created in SOL, only hosted on it.
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - SCORM.
Social media is a term used to describe a wide range of interactive tools, that are based around user created content. The basis of social media is interaction, hence the use of the word social.
Social Media can also refer to
SOL allows you to easily share video from across the internet, and present it in several different ways.
There are various services, most notably YouTube and Vimeo, which allow you to upload and store video that you have made, for free.
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - Video.
There are many activity types in SOL that can improve classroom delivery, facilitate collaborative practice and extend student engagement off-campus.
This chapter will look at the following tools and how they can be used:
Manual checkboxes can be created next to activities so students can monitor progress through module tasks by self-checking a box like this onethat appears on the right-hand side of the page.
The video below explains how to set up Activity Completion using manual checkboxes (from 0.00" to 2.00"). It also explains how to set up automatic checkboxes as well as how students' progress can be monitored through the tasks.
If 'Activity Completion' has been added to tasks, it is possible to generate and access reports on SOL that show students' progress through these tasks.
Activity completion can also be used to award Digital Badges. Badges can be awarded to students automatically upon successfully completing a set of activities, meeting certain criteria or awarded manually by a tutor. Digital badges can also be shared on social media platforms, including LinkedIn.
Click here for help with creating and setting up digital badges.
Access Reports in SOL
Where to Find Reports
Various reports can be accessed in SOL by clicking on the More cog and then selecting the Reports tab.
There are lots of reports in the Report tab above that can be accessed but there are 3 in particular that can be used to check:
- an overview of the number of activities each individual student has completed ('Activity Completion')
- the number of times each resource/activity has been viewed by users ('Activity Report')
- whether students have completed an individual resource and if not, a message can be sent-either to individual students or in bulk ('Course Participation')
1 'Activity Completion' Report
If activity completion has been set up on resources and activities, it will be possible to see what individual students have done so far (N.B. The example below is taken from a Moodle help page-they are not real students).
Go to this page to learn more about setting up activity completion.
2 'Activity Report'
3 'Course Participation' Report:
What is the Board?
The 'board' activity on SOL enables a post-it type, virtual board activity for students. This is most useful as an in-class collaborative activity, where the tutor sets out a number of columns with optional names (just double click the heading) and then students add their contributions to the columns.
Postings can be dragged between columns and can include text, image, url links and YouTube videos.
Posts are anonymous from the students perspective to provide a freedom to comment. However, staff can see the poster's identity if required.
Each post can be voted on by students with the star - for instance ideas, comments or questions can be upvoted in a column.
Tutors can set up:
- Closing dates for the board
- Order of posts by date or by rating
- Whether rating is enabled or not
Tutors can add or delete columns, move posts between columns, download the board contents and a spreadsheet of submissions.
Students can post, edit or delete their posts.
Each post can have a title and 250 characters of text.
Images, Videos and Links can be included in the post.
Why use the Board?
The board is a useful way of students working together when gathering information and ideas. Think of it as an electronic version of Post-it notes on a whiteboard in a classroom.
How do you create a Board?
- Turn editing on on your SOL page
- Add an activity (Board) and configure settings such as background colour (must be a hex number), background image, whether posts can be rated, closing date for posting and enabling editing placment of posts (can student move posts)
- Set up your columns and inform the students where the board is and ask them to contribute
It can also be used with groups to further limit access.
See docs.moodle.org - Board for more information.
The 'Choice' tool allows tutors to ask a question and set up radio buttons which students can click to make a selection from a number of possible responses.
Tutors can set this up so students can choose one or more option and can upload their selection.
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - Choice.
The 'Database' tool in SOL provides a way for tutors and students to collect and share a selection of online items, for instance images or documents.
It allows the tutor and/or students to build, display and search a collection of entries (i.e. records). The structure of the entries is defined as a number of fields which can include text and numbers, URLs, images, uploaded files and other more advanced fields such as checkboxes, radio buttons, dropdown menus, etc. You can also use the database templates.
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - Database.
H5P is a free and open-source content authoring tool that can be used to create interactive content such as interactive videos, question sets, drag and drop questions, multi-choice questions, presentations and much more
In addition to being an authoring tool for rich content, H5P can import and export existing files for effective reuse and sharing of content.
How to use H5P in Moodle
Interactive H5P content can be created using the built-in authoring tool or by uploading H5P files found on other H5P enabled sites.
For more information, see the H5P Moodle Plugin user guides.
How to copy and upload an H5P to a SOL pageIt is possible to download a copy of an H5P (eg this module self-assessment) and add it to a different page. Follow the instructions in the 'Copy and Upload Process' below:
Copy and Upload Process
- Click on Reuse to download a copy of the H5P onto a computer (see the bottom left-hand corner of the H5P in the screenshot above).
- In SOL, on the page where the H5P is to be copied, click on 'Add an Activity or Resource' and select 'H5P-Interactive Content'.
- Select the option for Upload (see screenshot below). The H5P can then be located on the computer and copied onto the SOL page.
The 'Lesson' tool presents a series of pages that contains content for the student to read and/or questions for the student to answer. The answer to these questions will determine the next page and the content that is displayed.
Sometimes it can be used simply to sequence material but the 'Book' tool probably serves this type of requirement better if the information is to be presented in a linear format.
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - Lesson.
The 'Quiz' tool allows the tutor to design and build quizzes consisting of a large variety of question types including multiple choice, true-false, short answer and drag and drop images and text.
It is a very powerful tool that can meet many teaching needs, from formative knowledge tasks to summative assessment tests.
A video overview is available here:
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - Quiz.
Importing questions into a quiz
To be able to import a quiz into the Quiz Tool on SOL, you would first need to create a text file using Notepad or a text editor.
I have provided and example below of how to structure and format your questions.
If questions have been created using Word Processing software, then this can be converted into text. Click on File and then click on Save As…
A Save menu will appear. Click in the Save As text field and Name your file. In the File Format Dropdown list, Select Plain text (.txt) and the Click Save
A File Conversion menu will appear. Leave the settings as default and Click OK
The converted file will be saved in your chosen folder. The screenshot on the left shows the text file format and structure.
Login to SOL and navigate and click on the Quiz. Click on the Cog and select Import
Click on the Import tab. Select Aiken format from the list and Choose a file to import and then click Import
The next screen will show that the questions have been imported. Click Continue
All questions will be added to the Question bank
To add these questions to the to the Quiz. Navigate back to the Quiz and click on Edit Quiz
Click on and then select from question bank
Select the Questions from the list and click Add selected questions to the quiz
The questions will be added to the quiz
Navigate to the Quiz and click Attempt quiz now
The quiz is ready, and this is how it will be displayed
Setting up a Quiz in SOL
To set up a quiz in SOL, editing would need to be turned on
Click the Cog on the top right hand side
Click Add an activity or resource
From the ‘Add an activity or resource’ menu click on Quiz and the click Add
Insert a Name for your Quiz
Adding a Description is optional
are other settings that can be changed including Timing, if the quiz needs to be time constraints. Click Enable to set the Opening and closing
times for the Quiz.
Other settings for the Quiz can be changed are identified below. Changes to them are optional dependant on purpose of your quiz. Once satisfied with all the changes, click Save and display
Click on the Cog on the right-hand side to load the menu
From the menu click on Question Bank
Click on Create a new question …
There are lots of different questions to choose from, for example ‘Multiple choice, True/False, Short answer and ‘Drag and drop into text’ etc.
The guide will show you how to set up different types of questions;
Click on Multiple choice from the list of questions and then click Add
Enter Question name and Question text
Set Default mark and General feedback (this is optional)
settings that can be changed amended are;
The Choices are the different answers you can enter
The Grade will need to be set 100% if the answer is correct and at None if the answer is incorrect.
Enter Feedback that you would want to leave for the learner for the answer e.g. Correct or Incorrect
this type of question, you would need to enter a minimum of 2 Choices
Once Choices, Grades and Feedback have been entered and selected Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page
question will then appear in your question bank.
Follow the process above for creating a new question and select True/False. Enter Question name and Question Text
Select the Correct Answer
Enter feedback for True and False responses
Click Save Changes when all changes have been made
Drag and drop into text
Follow the steps above to create a new question and select Drag and drop into text
Enter Question name and Question text. The answers will need to be replaced by numbers in square brackets e.g. [], [],[] etc
Enter the correct
answers that correspond with the numbers in square brackets
Once all the changes have been made Click Save Changes
Once all the questions have been created, they can be copied to the Quiz. Navigate to the Quiz
Click on Edit Quiz
Click Add on the right hand side and then click on from question bank
Select the Questions from the Question bank pop-up window
Once all the Questions have been selected Click Add selected questions to the quiz
All the question will be added to the Quiz
If marks need to amended for questions – Click on the Pencil
Navigate to the Quiz and click on Attempt quiz now
The quiz is ready
A wiki is a tool that allows multiple participants to create and edit a single document online.
A wiki is usually presented in a web page/document format and can include images, multimedia, links and attachments; multiple pages can also be created. Users access the wiki via the web and edit the content. These edits are usually tracked as 'history' so changes can be undone if required. Probably the most well known wiki is Wikipedia, anyone can create or edit entries to enhance knowledge sharing. myCourse has a built-in wiki tool you can use with your students for collaborative work.
A history of previous versions of each page in the wiki is kept, listing the edits made by each participant.
Quick note: Wiki comes from the Hawaiian phrase 'wiki wiki' meaning 'very fast'.
For more information, see docs.moodle.org - Wiki