Monthly Archives: March 2016

YouTube is the new Bathroom wall

When I was an Assistant Principal, you knew that you’d “made it”, you were official, when your name was put on the bathroom wall. Usually, your name was preceded by swear word. I was talking to a friend who got a call from an Assistant Principal. It appears that the Assistant Principal had suspended a student. The Assistant Principal wanted to know if there was a way to save a YouTube video. Apparently, the suspended student had put quite the rant about the Assistant Principal up on YouTube.

I had a good laugh as I was able to pull out my old man creed of “back in my day”…kids put your name on the bathroom wall. Apparently, YouTube is the new bathroom wall.

Creating a Teacher Resource Folder in Moodle

Sometimes, it is helpful to have a Teacher Resource Folder within Moodle. Generally, when I create a course that others will be using as well, I create a teacher resource folder for each topic. I don’t want the students to have access to this folder, so I remove their ability to see it. Before I learned this little trick, I would use the Show/Hide function. However, that runs the risk of the teacher inadvertently showing the folder. That’s why I love using permissions to accomplish a Teacher Resource Folder.

This is actually very easy to do, once you know how. Let’s start by turning editing on. Then simply create a folder and title it “Teacher Resources”. I also add a description of “Teacher Resources are available only to a teacher or non-editing teacher in this course.“, and click Display description on course page to on.

Teacher Resource Folder

*I usually leave the folder empty at this point. This is because I generally will duplicate this folder once it is set up. Once the folders are done, I add the appropriate resources into each one.

*If you have completion tracking turned on, make sure that you turn it off for this folder.

I scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Save and return to course.

So far, I’ve added a folder, but it can still be seen by anyone in the course. So I choose to Edit Settings for that Folder. This will seemingly take you right back where you were, but there is one significant difference, now you will have a Folder Administration Block.

Premissions Magic

In the Folder Administration block, you will have Permissions. For our purposes, this is magic. Click on the Permissions link. This will open a window where you can adjust permissions. We are only going to change one.

Permissions in Folder

Find the last plus sign on the line “View folder content” (under the Prohibited Heading). Click the +sign. This will result in a new window. Here, click the drop down to select “Student”.

Permissions in Folder: Teacher Resources 2016-03-20 16-12-31

Click “Prohibit” and you are done. What you’ve just done is to prohibit anyone in the student role from viewing this (and only this) folder.

Next, I duplicate the folder by clicking on Edit and then selecting Duplicate. The duplicated folder keeps the same permissions. I simply drag this duplicated folder to the next topic. I repeat this until each Topic has a Teacher Resource Folder. Then, I just add the appropriate material to each folder safe in the knowledge that the students won’t see this material. Generally, I use this folder to provide teaching tips, thoughts and additional resources for teachers. Sometimes, the folder will include full blown lesson plans. Sometimes it includes background material that is useful for the teacher.

Naturally, you can use this tip for hiding any resources that you don’t want students to see. This is best for resources that you will never want students to see though.


More on Moodle FlashCards

The Moodle FlashCard database preset file has been updated. There have been a couple of improvements/corrections. The preset now works with any theme. Additionally, the Random button and next/previous buttons work on sites without JQuery installed.

So, how does this work? It is simply a database activity. This makes it powerful and easy to learn. Oh, and if you are so inclined, highly customizable. Since it is a database preset, all you really have to do is drag and drop one file and you are set to go.

Remember, database activities are available to all students. When students complete an entry, the entire class can view that entry (approved by teacher if so desired). This makes it possible for students to contribute the knowledge to the class. (Of course, the teacher could create all the cards, but I really think that misses out on the power of student creation and learning.)

So, what does this look like for a teacher? Simply head over the Moodle Courses and Content page and download the Database Preset: FlashCards file. (You’ll need this in a few minutes, so just make sure that you know where you are saving it).

Use these instructions to quickly make FlashCards. Log into a Moodle course where you have editing rights.

  1. Click the green box to turn editing on.
  2. Click on Add activity or resource
  3. Select Database from the list.
  4. Click on Add button.
  5. Enter a name for the activity. For our purposes, we used FlashCards.
  6. Enter a description. This is a good place to put directions. For our purposes, we used “Add interesting words that you find for the class”.
  7. Click Save and Display.

Now we’ll select the preset. You should see a couple of text boxes. One will say that “There are no fields defined for this database.” The other will say, “Please create some below or choose a predefined set to get started”. The choose a predefined set will be a hyperlink. Click that hyperlink.

On the next screen, you will have the option to Export or Import. Locate the file that you saved and drag and drop it in the box under Import for zip file (or use the Choose file button and navigate to the saved file that you downloaded a couple of minutes earlier). Then click the Import button. A new screen will load. Just click “Continue”.

You are now ready to go. Click “Add entries” in the box OR use the Add entry tab (do NOT click the “Continue” tab – it is pointless).

You will have four boxes available. Frontside of Flashcard has Picture or Question. Backside has the same options. (Note that there is also an “Alternative text” box under the picture section. This is used for ADA compliance as screen readers use that information). Something MUST be entered into the “Answer” box (even a space will do).
*Note that there is currently a bug in the database activity for Moodle which prevents the “Save and add another” from actually working. This will need to be to fixed in Moodle with an update. This is not specific to this activity, but to all database activities in Moodle.

That’s it. Now turn your students loose and let them create FlashCards.

Alright. Maybe you want a little more control. Maybe you want to approve the FlashCards before the other students can see them. If that is the case, look to the Administration block. Click on Database activity administration to reveal all the options, then click on Edit settings. Now click on Entries to show those options. Under Approval required select “Yes”. Scroll to the bottom and click “Save” (either one will do)

There are even more options. If you’d like to know more, contact me.

Moodle FlashCards

I work with some truly wonderful people. Chris Kenniburg, Bob Harrison, Amy Gwizdz and Sean Williams are four of those terrific people. Together, they have developed a way to do FlashCards in Moodle.

Why FlashCards? Well, there are several sites that allow for FlashCard creation. However, these all take the user out of Moodle. FlashCards can be a terrific way to study vocabulary and other concepts. Even better, doing so in Moodle means that the students can create the FlashCards. (I’ve noticed that teachers tend to create flash cards for students to study. I believe that this is backward. Let the students create. That is where the learning really happens.)

So, Chris was the lynch pin in this project (he is after all, a particularly helpful moodler). He put together a few disparate pieces of information: a request for FlashCards, a post by the Moodle Fairy (AKA Mary Cooch) on postcards, and a post about CSS tips. Chris started running with the CSS. Unfortunately for us, the CSS “flips” the card on mouse roll over. This is not ideal for kids and flipcards. Fortunately, Chris was able to change the CSS so that the card “flips” on click, not roll over. We also wanted a way to select a random card instead of just moving along in a linear fashion. Enter Sean. Sean whips up some javascript so that we have a Random Card button that, well, displays a random entry instead of a sequentially ordered card. Perfect.

Off to the Tech Coaches for thoughts and feedback. Bob and Amy propose some changes. They provided several tweaks to make things look and work better. One of those suggestions was the addition of “Next” and “Previous” buttons. This allows the students to work through the cards in order.

There are many things about this that I really like. First off, it allows for the students to create the flashcards. I’m really, really big on the students creating the content. Since this is a database activity, the teacher could set it so that the students would have to create some FlashCards before they would see any of the already created ones. The teacher can also approve the FlashCards before the students see them. Since it is a database activity, the FlashCards are visible for the entire class (again, once approved if the teacher wants to review them first). The FlashCards can contain text, images and/or video. Text, images and videos are available for both the front and back sides of the cards.

We still have a few things to work out. We are working on Ratings. We’ve thought about tagging. However, we aren’t sure if tagging would just make things too complex and not really solve anything. Using FlashCards per unit, for example, might be better than creating a large FlashCard set that is tagged with the each unit.

The teacher ends up having significant control over the FlashCards. For example, we’ve removed the Card numbers from the side of the screen. The teacher can easily have those displayed if that is desired. (We removed them for several reasons. First of all, it clutters up the screen. Secondly, a number doesn’t really say what is on the card. Third, in large datasets, this could quickly be over) We certainly understand that the teacher may want those displayed. Thus, it is easy to remove by visiting the CSS template (where there are directions on adding the page (card) numbers back in).

What does this look like?

Here is the front of a card that just contains a picture.

6th Grade LA Part 1: FlashCards 2016-03-04 22-34-40

The buttons say:

  • Previous
  • Flip the Card
  • Random Card

Here is the back of another card:

6th Grade LA Part 1: FlashCards 2016-03-04 22-37-07

The buttons say:

  • Previous
  • Flip the Card
  • Random Card
  • Next Card

Notice that these are adaptive. Since the front card is the last one in list, there is no Next. However, the back card is one that isn’t the first or the last, so there is a Previous and Next available.

Here is an overview of FlashCards from Chris.

If you’d like a copy of the template, just contact me. I’ll share. (It has been submitted to Moodle, but hasn’t been approved yet.)