Learning Technology

Turnitin assignments or Moodle assignments?

November 22nd, 2016

There are two types of assignment dropbox available in Moodle: Turnitin assignments or Moodle assignments.  When choosing which to use in your module, first check what your School recommends. We now have recommendations across the whole of Social Sciences and many other Schools also have preferred suggestions.  In both types of dropboxes, the excellent Turnitin text-matching system can be used to get similarity scores and originality reports, but each has other advantages and disadvantages.

So what are the main advantages of each type of dropbox?

Turnitin assignments are best for:

  • Using Grademark to do your marking online (a lot of people like this)
  • Grademark has the Quickmark sets (ditto)
  • Marking offline if you have an iPad
  • Straightforward release marks for everyone on the post date, no extensions
  • PeerMark peer assessment
  • Can download marked versions of papers in bulk for archiving (essential, as otherwise papers are not held on University servers)

Moodle assignment is best for:

  • Offline marking (using grading worksheet, file annotation in Word etc. and bulk file upload)
  • Good on a Surface Pro, not so much on an iPad
  • Group assignments
  • Flexible control of release of marks, can hold some back while releasing the rest
  • Can submit drafts and get feedback
  • Upload of feedback files (e.g., annotated scripts and feedback forms)
  • Can give individual students extensions
  • Can still mark even if Turnitin side of things goes down
  • Moodle reliability and performance is under University control (Turnitin is a third-party service)

Online annotation similar to Turnitin is coming in the next version of Moodle. Meanwhile Turnitin is moving on to Feedback Studio which is a new improved interface for marking that I predict will also win fans.

Neither type copes well with second marking (there are workarounds which we’ll cover in a later blog post).

The main thing is to think about how you prefer to do your marking, especially if you’re only starting to do online marking.

Your Learning Technology Consultant for your Faculty can offer advice on the best choice for your needs. Contact us any time on learning-technologies@nottingham.ac.uk

Echo360 – replacing block with link in Moodle

October 27th, 2016

There has recently been a change to the way staff and students access lecture capture recordings from the Echo360 system through Moodle.    Previously, a block could be added to the left or right column of a module’s Moodle page which linked to all lecture and other recordings for the module. It’s still possible to link to all recordings but the block is no longer in use with the latest version of Echo360 and users now access recordings in a different way.

To save time for staff, during September we went through each module that used the block and replaced it with a hidden link at the top of each module. This link was invisible by default and staff were encouraged to move it to wherever they wanted in their layout, rename it, and make the link visible to students.

We’ve noticed now that staff have been putting the Echo360 block back in, and this has caused problems for many students and staff who cannot view the recordings any longer via the block (especially when using Mac or Win 10 devices). As a result it’s no longer possible to add the block into a module.

To add a link to recordings for a module, click ‘+Add activity or resource’ and choose External tool – see the Help page for How+to+add+the+Echo360+link+in+Moodle

Lecture recordings link automatically from a SATURN coded module, but to link to recordings in a non-SATURN module such as a parent module, a little more set up is needed. Please email the details of the module (full name and SHORTNAME) to lecture-capture@nottingham.ac.uk  – please go to the Help page Instructions+for+non-SATURN+modules for more information.

Feedback from students over the summer was that they rarely notice anything that is not in the main section and prefer items to be there, so this should make lecture recordings more visible to them.

Rogō down for maintenance 18-20 October

October 13th, 2016

Rogo logoWe’d like to let everyone know that there will be some essential maintenance and an update to Rogō, the university’s e-assessment system, with downtime on Tuesday 18th October from 5pm through to Thursday 20th October at 6pm (UK time). This will be an upgrade with improvements in performance, but no significant difference to the user interface.

Setting up Quizzes in Moodle [video]

October 11th, 2016

Quizzes in  Moodle are a comprehensive way to provide fun quizzes, self-check questions to boost student confidence and (mostly automatically) marked formative assessment. Some of the features include:

  • Question types include multiple choice, true/false, matching, short-answer and numerical calculated with special characters
  • You can re-use questions from the question bank in different quizzes and copy them between modules.
  • Quizzes can be set to allow single or multiple attempts
  • Quizzes can be set to be open for a limited time and to have a time limit for completion
  • Questions can be randomly shuffled or selected from the question bank
  • Students can be given feedback during or after the test or not at all.

If you’re thinking about using a Moodle Quiz in your module, then here is a video to help you set it up.

Further useful help:

How to Add a Moodle quiz (the settings)

How to Add questions to a Moodle quiz

How to transfer questions for quizzes between Moodle modules

How to create Embedded answers (Cloze) questions in Moodle Quiz

Moodle quizzes are fine for formative assessment, but if you are going to be using tests like this in a summative way then you should consider using the University’s bespoke online test and exam system Rogō as it has features to make it easier to use and is much more secure for assessment purposes.

Archiving of 15-16 Moodle modules on Friday 7th October

October 5th, 2016

At the end of every academic year, Moodle modules for the previous year are archived. At midnight (UK time) on Friday 7th October all modules dated in the 15-16 academic year will be archived. The archive process is expected to take up to 36 hours but there should be no effect on users’ experience of of Moodle as it’s a background process.

What does archiving mean?

  • Modules from 15-16 will disappear from the Current Modules tab in the Module Overview on My Home
  • They will from then on be found under the Archived Modules tab in your Module Overview
  • You can still access all modules you were enrolled on in previous years (via the Archived Modules tab)
  • Modules that are archived become “read only” and are fixed in the state they were taught, so no further changes can be made
  • Those with category roles such as student support will no longer have access to the modules. Contact learning-technologies@nottingham.ac.uk if temporary access is needed to one of the archived modules.

What if I don’t want my modules archived?

While all 15-16 modules have a default archive date of 7 October 2016 (and similarly for each year), the archive date can be extended for a short period if the module needs to be “live” for longer, for example postgraduate modules where students are still submitting assignments through the autumn term.  Editing teachers can select a later archive date. In the Year End and Archive block click Archive date and set a new date, e.g., 30 November 2016. Ensure this date is no later than absolutely necessary.

4 answers to common questions about setting up Moodle modules for the coming year

September 15th, 2016

1. I can’t see my module in my Module Overview list

Check that all the modules you are enrolled on are shown on your list:

  1. At the bottom of the list of modules, if you have hidden modules, it will say “You have XX modules not shown”
  2. You can click ‘Show all modules’ or customise the whole list as shown below.

If it’s still not there, go to Site Home and search for the module code or full name.

If yous till can’t see it, contact us – it’s probably there but you need to be enrolled on it. We do our best to enrol the right staff on modules, but sometimes we have to rely on you to tell us.

More information I can’t see my modules in Moodle (staff)   and How can I change the order of the modules on my My home page?

2. I can’t seem to work out how to delete sections from previous years

If you need to delete the content of a whole section, each item must be deleted individually.

You can hide sections: click the eye icon in the top right of the relevant section. You can drag and drop that section at the bottom of the page and hide it.

More information : Hiding sections

You can change the number of sections visible on your page:

  • Turn Editing On
  • At the bottom right of the page click v to add a section (one at a time)
  • or ^ to remove one section at a time

NOTE: If the sections which have now gone had content in, the content will still be visible to you as “Orphaned items” unless each item is individually deleted.

3. I need my colleague enrolled on my module

If you are an Editing Teacher you can enrol others in your module up to the level of Editing Teacher (but normally don’t enrol students – they are automatically enrolled through the student record system).

  • In the module go to Administration > Module Administration > Users > Enrolled Users
  • Use the Search filter to check that the person you want to enrol is not already enrolled on your module.
  • Click Enrol users on top right to enrol a new person onto the module.
  • In the Assign roles drop-down menu at the top (Editing Teacher or Editor for someone who just needs to add and edit content but not see students’ marks, or Teacher for a Teaching Assistant or marker who does not need to edit or add material)
  • Enter the name of the person you want to enrol and click on the Search button.
    NOTE:  Search for a firstname or surname first, as, for example “Will Sheppard” will not retrieve William Hartley Sheppard.    You can also search for Will%Sheppard (where % is a wildcard)  which will get Will Henry Sheppard or Will Sheppard or William Sheppard
  • When the user comes up find the correct one and click Enrol next to their name
  • When you are finished click on the Finish enrolling users button

If you definitely can’t find them, and it’s likely they do not have an account in Moodle already, please contact us with their name and username to create their account.

More information: Enrolling a fellow staff member

4. How do I make my module visible to students?

Modules are invisible to students by default. When you’ve finished preparing it, make it visible and available to them:

  1. In the Administration block, select Edit Settings 
  2. Look for the Visible field (third  item down)
  3. Click on the drop down options for the Visible field and select Show
  4. Click Save changes at the bottom of the page.

More information: How can I make my module available to students?

More questions?

There’s lots more Help available at the Moodle Help website

or contact learning-technologies@nottingham.ac.uk

Gamification in Moodle (Sally Chappell)

September 14th, 2016

Sally Chappell in the School of Life Sciences is our guest today, posting about gamification in her Moodle modules.

This project aims to introduce game-based elements to the “Molecular Basis of Genetic Disorders” module, which is part of the MSc Molecular Genetics and Diagnostics, a 1-year, full-time course. The module is currently being redesigned to include several “flipped classroom” sessions, where independent learning is provided via screencasts and other resources, and the timetabled sessions are spent on more applied exercises and data interpretation rather than didactic teaching (Abeysekera & Dawson, 2015).

Although the design of the applied exercises should encourage students to engage with the material provided for their learning, experience has shown that not all students will spend as much time on this as we would like. It is also apparent that students lose their initial enthusiasm for certain approaches if they are used all the time across all modules, even if initial engagement was high, suggesting that a variety of approaches need to be used across the course.

The Moodle design includes several game-based elements in order to encourage active participation and engagement with the learning material to ensure that the students are fully prepared for the timetabled interactive sessions and allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of the module material. This will use key elements from games in general (eg levels of achievement), but also elements from specific games such as geocaching and crosswords. Student engagement with the activities will also be rewarded by the award of badges for particular achievements, as well as reward in terms of the instant feedback provided by individual activities which is vital for learning.

An example of a game which is embedded throughout the Moodle space is the “DNA collector” activity. There are 20 icons representing flasks of DNA hidden throughout the module, which students have to click on to collect. These icons can be within any of the resources provided in Moodle, e.g. quiz questions, lesson pages, Moodle books, forum posts etc. The hope is that this will encourage students to look at all resources provided.

The students will be rewarded throughout the game-based activities in a variety of ways. This will include immediate feedback when completing quizzes (either in the Moodle lessons or as standalone activities), or other activities where feedback can be automated and delivered upon activity completion. Students will also be able to acquire electronic badges as they complete particular tasks, to serve as recognition for their efforts. The acquisition of badges has been shown to increase user activity (Hamari, 2015), although some have raised concerns about whether this actually translates into better performance in course assessments (Dominguez et al, 2013).

There will be 5 badges available for the students to collect as they progress through the module, as well as a bonus section which is released when they complete a particular set of activities (Figure 1). The criteria for the bonus section will not be explicitly stated, with the aim of encouraging students to complete more of the activities than just targeting the ones that they know from the outset will result in a particular consequence.

Badges and bonus sections available within the gamified Moodle space. Badges and other descriptors use language taken from game environments (e.g. “Your current level”) as well as providing acknowledgement of their contribution (“thanks for contributing so many questions”).


Abeysekera, L and Dawson, P (2015) Motivation and cognitive load in the flipped classroom: definition, rationale and a call for research, Higher Education Research & Development, 34:1, 1-14.

Domínguez, A; Saenz-de-Navarrete, J; de-Marcos, L; Fernández-Sanz, L; Pagés, C and Martínez-Herráiz, J (2013) Gamifying learning experiences: Practical implications and outcomes. Computers & Education 63: 380-392.

Hamari, J (2015) Do badges increase user activity? A field experiment on the effects of gamification. Computers in Human Behavior. Article in press (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.03.036).

Moodle training – Key Moodle Basics course dates in late August / September 2016

August 29th, 2016

Key Moodle Basics is an introduction to Moodle as it is used in the University of Nottingham. It’s a two-hour session with lots of hands-on practice and opportunity to ask questions.

This session is suitable for anyone who’s new to Moodle or who would like a refresher.  It’s suitable for academics, administrators and support staff – anyone who might have a need to use Moodle in any way to support teaching and learning.   Those who’ve used Moodle already will probably find that they’ll fill in some gaps.

If attendees then need more details on specific tasks using Moodle or activities available within it, we can organise follow-up training or consultations.  If you have a group in a School or programme we can arrange a customised version of Key Moodle Basics on request.

Key Moodle Basics: An Introduction to Moodle

University Park     31 August 2016     2-4 pm
Jubilee Campus     8 September 2016   2-4 pm
University Park     13 September 2016    10 am – 12 noon



Moodle maintenance 1st September

August 26th, 2016

Moodle will be undergoing essential maintenance on Thursday 1st September 2016 and will be unavailable between 2 and 6 pm UK time (9 pm to 1 am China and Malaysia). Please ensure you have completed any urgent tasks before this time.

This is for updates and software improvements and is unlikely to affect functionality for users.

Are you tired of being shackled by cables while teaching? Demo

August 23rd, 2016

The User Experience (UX) team in IS are currently evaluating two apps that untether you from the lectern/teacher PC and let you share your screen with your students.

The team are inviting any staff interested in trialling this technology to see it demonstrated on Thursday 25th August at 10am in C15 Pope Building.

If you’re asking how you might use this, http://education.splashtop.com/ is a great source of inspiration.

Splashtop Mirroring360

Splashtop Mirroring360 http://www.mirroring360.com lets you show your phone or tablet to students in the teaching room without the need for any extra hardware or cables.

You can try it free on your own computer by downloading the free 7 day trial of Mirroring360 from http://www.mirroring360.com. It’s available for both Mac and PC.

There are tutorials to get you started here: http://www.mirroring360.com/video-tutorials

Splashtop Classroom

Splashtop Classroom http://www.splashtop.com/classroom allows teachers to share their desktop and applications. Once connected, you can allow students to view, control and annotate over lesson content directly from their own devices.

Sally Hanford