26. July 2012 · Comments Off on Customising Articulate Storyline’s LMS Goodbye message · Categories: Articulate Storyline, Moodle 2.2
I’m on a steep learning curve with a new piece of software (Articulate Storyline) and writing tutorials about another piece of software that I’m not offay with. Not a comfortable place to be but the challenge is pushing me and being uncomfortable is okay now and again. It’s when I end up learning the most.

I’ve learned that Moodle doesn’t handle SCORM comfortably – no matter what the SCORM package, whether it opens in the same window or a new one, horizontal and vertical scroll bars show up – even when the learning object is set to size dynamically. It’s as if Moodle builds in a 10 pixel or so pad in reverse – always 10 pixels width and height are hidden somehow. This doesn’t matter so much on height, but it’s a pain in the bum on width!

With Articulate Storyline, another issue is that regardless of whether or not you’ve set the player to open in a new window, it outputs the same message to an LMS along the lines of: You’ve finished the content. Close the window. 

Unfortunately following this instruction exactly would result in students closing their Moodle sessions unintentionally.

I found the file to edit, but I learned that I needed to do it after Publishing from Articulate but before allowing Articulate to zip up the package. I tried zipping the package myself and got an error message from Moodle when I tried to use it.

Here is what I do to create a custom goodbye message for an Articulate Storyline package:
  • Publish the file
  • Go to folder
  • Go to the LMS folder
  • Right click on the Goodbye.html file
  • Open it in Notepad ++
  • Edit and save the file
  • Go back to Articulate
  • Zip the file using the link in the publishing window
  • Upload to Moodle
Got a better way to do this? Please let me know. And if you know how I could create a link in the Goodbye.html document back to the course, I’d greatly appreciate it. Using _blank, _parent, _top just loads the course page into the iFrame.

31. May 2012 · Comments Off on Audio assessment using SoundCloud + Moodle · Categories: Moodle 2.2 · Tags: , ,
The instructors I work with are looking for options beyond text for learners to demonstrate knowledge and skills.

Audio assessment is one of the alternatives we’re exploring and soon we’ll be creating assignments for learners to submit links to recorded audio. We’ll be putting in the caveat that learners are NOT allowed to read from a script. Obviously some might – and if it’s mission critical they don’t, we’ll look at video assessment.

Here is a tutorial I’ve created for our learners to support them – some of them still pretty new to all that is internet. Your feedback on its suitability is, as always, greatly appreciated.

I’ve been thinking a lot about authentic, contextual assessment lately and it occurs to me that audio assessment in the human services industry really makes a whole lot of sense in some instances.

 In one of the Australian Institute of Social Relations courses for Financial Counsellors, learners are asked to write and submit their opening statement to clients. Yet, when they are in front of a client, they’re not likely to be reading it off a piece of paper (one hopes). So – how much better would audio be? I was thinking much, much better.

One issue is that some of our learners are still developing their IT skills. So whatever we provide needs to be intuitive and user friendly.

Moodle Audio Assignment plug in

Enter the Audio assessment plug in created by Paul Nicholls for the Moodle community to use.

This plugin creates the ability for learners to record straight into a web browser (if it allows for Flash) or to upload a pre-recorded audio file if they don’t have Flash. It is very, very easy to use.

Audio assignment in action 
The file is recorded straight in the page, then uploaded. For a three-minute recording, the file size worked out to be 2.7 MB.

I tried this using my iPhone and found of course that the Flash didn’t work. I also found that I couldn’t upload a file using the button on the page, nor via the Moodle 2.22 File Picker when I chose the advanced option.  With a standard Mac, there was no issue. I’m just not sure what free recording tools Macs offer and how easy they would be for people with basic skills.

Third party sites

Sound cloud

Another option would be using a third party web site – like Sound Cloud (http://soundcloud.com ).  The downside is that students would have to sign up for an account with an email address. The upside is SoundCloud has free mobile apps so students could record their audio via mobile phone rather than needing a headset and mic at work (which is an issue for some).  With Soundcloud the free account provides for 120 minutes of upload time – plenty for one course. Students could record their audio there, then send you a private link to it. Only people who have the link can find it – much like an unlisted YouTube video.

This would mean a 4 or 5 step process for iphone and tablet users: read assignment, record audio, copy link, go back to assignment and paste link. Too much?


Voicethread – http://voicethread.com is another voice tool option – a but the sound recorded would be available to all the other students and sometimes, that just doesn’t work. Peer assessment is fine down the track, but in early stages of learning  it’s better to provide a safe space where mistakes can be made and performances can be honed.

Voicethread would also necessitate users creating a log-in on a third party site.  PC users could record straight on the page, iPhone and iPad users would need to download an app and go to the web site via the app to take part.

I think we’re in a deadpatch here.

There isn’t any HTML 5 stuff being developed yet that is going to embed in the page and behave sweetly like Flash. The alternatives for Mac and tablet users seem to involve multiple steps. But I really think Audio assessment is worth it.

Your suggestions to streamline the process of submitting audio for assessment while catering to PCs, Macs, iphones/pads and Android suers would be GREATLY appreciated… 

For a while now, one of our online educators creates a check list for learners  to download and fill in at the end of each learning module. This gives them a chance to see what activities and assessments and evidence of competency are required on one page and also ensures they have completed what they need to in order to move onto the next module of learning.

Enter Moodle 2.2 and with it completion tracking and conditional activities. These have great promise for some courses we deliver. Completing tracking allows students to tick off an activity or resource interaction as complete — or the educator can set conditions for completion such as a certain grade – that automatically ticks off the item as complete. Completion of certain activities or resource interactions can be set as conditions for being able to access content.

We’ll get there with this – we all see the value. But it is time consuming and takes planning.

Enter the Checklist plugins.

The Checklist Activity plug-in allows a teacher to create an auto-generated Checklist, then edit it to suit. It’s available via the Activity menu of a course.

There are a whole range of settings to experiment with.

You can choose whether to create a Checklist for a specific topic block or the whole course.

If, like us, you break out course content by Learning Modules and then weeks or sub topics within the learning module, you can create a Checklist that shows every activity and resource in the course, then hide all the elements that don’t fall under that learning module.

You can then create other Checklists for other modules.

You can edit the Checklists to create custom headings (they default to Section plus number, a weakness imho as it creates an extra step), and can mark activities and resources as optional or required. It took a couple of clicks to do this. I had to manually add a Checklist item, name it, hide the auto-generated header then tick and untick the manually created item as required and optional for it to go bold and kick in as a header.

options to hide content and add headers

Students can tick items off the list as they like.  A link to the activity or resource is automatically generated so learners can go to items they need to complete straight from the list, rather than having to remember the name and go off to find it.
Checklist with progress bar

When you add in the separate Checklist Block, you can turn Checklist into a tool that learners use throughout a learning module or course, rather than at the end.

 A separate Checklist block provides a quick visual progress bar for students regarding their progress through the checklist and educators can use the Checklist block to keep an eye on all the learners in a course. 

When educators access the Checklist itself, they can see a graph of who has been ticking off items and who hasn’t.
Other settings allow the teacher to have the final say on whether or not an item should have been checked off – and even to leave a comment to explain WHY the item shouldn’t be marked as finished.

 There is also a Gradebook Export plugin. I will need to talk to our web hosts to get this to work – it is supposed to export out the Checklist overview to an Excel spreadsheet. I got an Error Message saying the file or directory didn’t exist, so I’ll follow this up and provide an update in comments.

For more information on Checklist, visit the plugin page on Moodle.org – http://moodle.org/plugins/view.php?plugin=mod_checklist

And if you’ve used Checklist, let me know what you think of it.

15. March 2012 · Comments Off on Activity reports in Moodle courses · Categories: Moodle 2.2 · Tags: , , ,
This is another messy brain dump because I’ve had to look this up more than twice…

To be able to access activity reports in Moodle courses –
  • The site admin must ensure that the Navigation block is active
  • The course owner must add the Navigation block (The course owner can decide whether or not learners can see their own Activity reports in course settings)

If you are afraid the Navigation block will confuse students (you cannot hide it) or your site admin won’t allow the Navigation menu, create shortcuts to your fav reports.

Activity Report: http://moodlesiteaddress.com/report/outline/index.php?id=yyy
Log: http://moodlesiteaddress.com/report/log/index.php?id=yyy
Live log: http://moodlesiteaddress.com/report/loglive/index.php?id=yyy
Course participation: http://moodlesiteaddress.com/report/participation/index.php?id=yyy
Activity completion: http://moodlesiteaddress.com/report/progress/index.php?course=yyy

As an added bonus, the Log link allows you to choose from all the courses you teach/manage – so you’d only have to share one log link for one course.