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SOL tools

Site: Solent Online Learning
Course: Learning Technologies Staff Help and Support
Book: SOL tools
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Wednesday, 27 May 2020, 3:56 PM

Communication 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: 

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Try the following links: 

SOL Baseline: course for tutors
bookGetting started 
bookManaging roles and users


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.

Top tip: A 'Calendar' can be included on a SOL page by adding a 'Calendar' block or 'Upcoming Events' block. 

For more information, see - Calendar.


The 'Chat' tool enables you 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.

Top tip: This can be a great way to communicate with students away from the classroom environment and can involve all students or a specific group.  

For more information, see - Chat


'Feedback' tool is used for creating and conducting surveys to collect information. This could be used for evaluation purposes or for informal student assessment.


Remember: The ability to set the forms as 'anonymous' also means that sensitive issues can be surveyed without students worrying who might see their responses.

For more information, see - 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:

  1. Unit Announcements - 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.
  2. 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: 

  1. Standard forum for general use (default)
  2. Single, simple discussion 
  3. Question and answer
  4. Standard forum displayed like a blog.
For more information on the forum tool, see - forum.


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. 

Top tip: The 'Scheduler' tool can be made available to students if they need to make appointments with each other. 

For more information, see - 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 - Quickmail.

Text tools

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'. 

Top tip: It is a good way to segment content into manageable chunks that are in a sequential, easy-to-navigate format for students. 

For more information, please see - Book.


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. 

Top tip: The 'Glossary' can be used for student collaboration purposes. Students can participate by editing the terms and the definitions, use the 'Locally assigned roles' under the 'Administration' block, to assign permissions to students.

For more information, see - Glossary.


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. 

Top tip: Blogs can be used to prompt discussion and/or reflection among students. 

For more information, see - OU Blog.


The 'Label' tool serves as a spacer on a SOL page. 

It can be used to add text, images, multimedia or code in between other resources in the different sections. It is very versatile and can help to improve the appearance of a course if used thoughtfully. 

Top tip: Use labels to divide up a list of activities and resources into digestible chunks. 

Remember: Keep it simple - labels are designed to help organise information. 

For more information, see - Label.

Text editor

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. 

Top tip: The 'Text editor' can also upload images, add hyperlinks and embed audio and video files from both Solent's Library and the internet. 

For more information. see - 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'. 

Remember: Students need to have the appropriate software on their computers in order to open the file.

For more information, see - Files.


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. 

Top tip: Using a 'Folder' to display resources is neater than displaying files one by one in a list. It takes up less space on the course/unit page. 

For more information, see - Folders.


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.

Remember: You should only use content that you have the rights to use. If you are unclear on what this includes, go to Copyright matters, Images and logos on the Portal.

For more information, see - Images.

Page (web)

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.

Top tip: It is a useful way of introducing resources, building on information or providing a page where you contextualise links out to other places on the internet.

For more information, see - Page 

Private files

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.

For more information, see - Private files and - Creating an alias/shortcut.


Sharing cart

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.  

  1. Click the 'Copy to Sharing Cart' in the 'Edit' drop-down menu next to resource. 
  2. The resource will appear in the 'Sharing Cart' block which then be used on other units by clicking 'Copy to Course'.

For more information, - 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. 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 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. Add the Sharing Cart 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 (weblink)

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.

Top tip: Providing web links in SOL will mean up-to-date information and relevant resources can be shared with students. 

For more information, see - URL.


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 clips

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: 

  1. Linking to a sound file online elsewhere - using the 'URL' tool to link to the relevant page on the internet. 
  2. Uploading audio - drag and drop the audio file onto the SOL page or upload from a computer using the 'Files' tool.  
  3. Embedding a sound file in its own player - using the SOL 'Text editor' select the 'Media' button or 'HTML' button to embed code. 

Remember: You should only use content that you have the rights to use. If you are unclear on what this includes, go to Copyright matters, Media Resources on the Portal.

For more information, see - Audio


Digital badges can be used to celebrate achievement or to show progress. 

In SOL, these badges are displayed on the students profile or in a 'public badges backpack'. 

There are two types of badges: 

  1. Site badges
  2. Course badges
Course badges would be the most suitable as these are related to the activities that happen inside of a unit.  

Advanced: If you are interested in badges, please contact to discuss your requirements in the first instance.

For more information, see - 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.

Advanced: If you are interested in certificates, please contact to discuss your requirements in the first instance.

For more information, see - Certificate.


The 'Checklist' tool allows a tutor to create a checklist for their students to work through.

The students can tick off each item on the list, as they complete it 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.

There is a hidden empty checklist embedded in every SOL unit page under the 'Assessment' tab. If you do use it, don't forget to 'unhide'.

Tutors can add as many checklists as desired any section of a SOL unit page. 

Further guidance on writing fit to submit checklists can be found on the beating the attainment gap project page.

Top tip: To use the same checklist across multiple units - create the checklist in a spreadsheet file and import it into the 'Checklist' tool. These are two example checklists to view, that can also be saved and imported in to the 'Checklist' tool. 

See - 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. 

Advanced: If you are interested in finding out more about SCORM packages, please contact to discuss your requirements in the first instance.

For more information, see - SCORM

Social media

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 

multi-media content including:

  • games
  • images
  • video 
  • blogs
  • documents
  • graphs.

Video clips

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. 

Top tip: Look at Library video resources such as Box of Broadcasts (BoB) to embed into your unit. Or as a way of sharing your videos on SOL, look into Lecture Capture. Contact for more details.

Remember: You should only use content that you have the rights to use. If you are unclear on what this includes, go to Copyright matters, Media Resources on the Portal.

For more information, see - 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: 


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. 

Top tip: Choices can be useful as a quick poll to stimulate thinking about a topic; to allow the class to vote on a direction for the course, or to gauge progress.

For more information, see - 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.

Top tip: Plan your data collection process on paper before starting in SOL. Try to think about the fields of information, field types and the layout. 

Advanced: If you are interested in the database, please contact to discuss your requirements in the first instance.

For more information, see - 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.

Advanced: If you are interested in H5P, please contact to discuss your requirements in the first instance.

For more information, see the H5P Moodle Plugin user guides


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.

Top tip: With this tool, spend a little time planning on paper before using the 'Lesson too'. Think about what it is the tool will be used to achieve - will it be a linear or non-linear experience, will it be graded, can the student only visit the information once, etc.? 

Advanced: If you are interested in lessons, please contact to discuss your requirements in the first instance.

For more information, see - 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.

Advanced: If you are interested in using quizzes, please contact to discuss your requirements in the first instance.

A video overview is available here:

For more information, see - Quiz.

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


There 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;

Multiple Choice

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)


Other 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


For 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


The 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. [[1]], [[2]],[[3]] 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


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

If a question is missing as shown below, it doesn't mean, it hasn't been added. It has still been imported. 
If questions are missing from the list, than it means there is a problem with the question e.g. syntax and format

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

Manual grading in a quiz

If you have included short answer or essay questions in your quiz, you will likely need to assign these grades manually.

This video will explain 2 ways of manually grading quiz answers:



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 - Wiki