Moodle 3 Features, part 6 Onetopic format

Lapinkampus blog was upgraded to Moodle version 3.0+ during the summer. As demonstrated in previous blog articles, this has opened up opportunities to adopt new plugins that employ the options offered by the new version. Moodle 3 aims to exploit the bootstrap technology to the fullest. This will entail newer, highly modifiable course themes and course plugins based on them.

At the request of a teacher, the eLearning services recently introduced a new course theme in Lapinkampus Moodle. It is called the Onetopic format and it will create a course in which each course section, including the general section (or topic ”0”), is represented by a tab that will open the section on its own page. Like the other course formats, it can be selected in the course settings.

It was already possible to use the Collapsed topics format or the Grid format to create a course in which sections have their own page, but these still depart from a somewhat traditional page view, on which the general section is displayed in full and the other course sections are listed below. The Onetopic format offers another, cleaner course view in which the general section is not visible when another section is opened. The section tabs will wrap when the screen is small, but long section names should nonetheless be avoided when using this format.

The only issue to keep in mind, is that this Moodle 3 course format only works properly with Moodle 3 themes, like the new LapinAMK theme (so not with the old LapinAMK themes).

Onetopic format in More theme

The look of the Onetopic format in the More theme

Using GAFE in Moodle

Lapland University of Applied Sciences has rolled out Google Apps for Education (GAFE) to all students and staff. GAFE offers great opportunities for joint creation of material and for video discussion via Google Hangouts. While it may seem GAFE is a stand alone service, it can serve as an on-line repository in our Moodle virtual learning environment. Here are a few ways in which to draw Google drive files into a Moodle course (It depends on your role in the Moodle course which ones of these options you can apply).

Linked from an HTML editor

You can link to any file in your GAFE drive from any HTML editor in your Moodle course, e.g. a forum message, the description of an activity, a wiki page, or a Page resource. The process starts with writing some text that your file is linked to and then execute the following steps (you can click the pictures to see them at true size):

Step 1

linkgafe1Step 2

linkgafe2Step 3

linkgafe3Step 4

linkgafe4When the link is added to the text, you can complete your text, but don’t forget to submit your text /save changes / post your message. The text will display with an active link. Clicking the link will download the file from your GAFE drive to the user’s computer that will try to open it with a suitable Office application.

As a File resource

Instead of adding a file from your GAFE drive as a link to a piece to text, you can also add a GAFE drive file to the course page. To do that you turn editing on on the course page and click the Add an activity or resource link at the bottom of a course section. In the resulting pop up window, scroll down and under RESOURCES, select File. The following settings page will open:

File resource GAFE

Note that the Select files dropbox in the image above also appears in other places, like the attachment box to forum message or the submission box in an assignment. You can, of course, insert GAFE Drive files in those as well!

As a URL resource

The above two options download a copy of  the file from GAFE Drive to the user’s computer. Any edits the user makes in the file will not appear in the original file in GAFE Drive, since that file is only editable in GAFE Drive. To have users edit a file in your GAFE Drive, you can share the file via a link as shown below (Click the pic for a better view):

Share GAFE Drive file

Next you can add that copied Share link either to an HTML editor as described above (except that in Step 1, you do not click Browse, but paste the share link in the link URL box and then jump to Step 4), OR you can add it as a resource on the course page. To do that you turn editing on on the course page and click the Add an activity or resource link at the bottom of a course section. In the resulting pop up window, scroll down and under RESOURCES, select URL. The following settings page will open:

gafe URL

Embedded in an HTML editor

Finally, it is possible to post an editable Google drive document inside an HTML editor in Moodle. This allows users to navigate and edit the document from the Moodle page. This is a bit more complex and involves some codes that not everyone has rights to use in Moodle on account of possible security issues. Therefore, if you want to achieve this, contact us at the eLearning Centre for assistance.


As YouTube is presently a Google service, it is often seen as part of GAFE. Needless to say, Moodle offers an option to link to YouTube videos too via the File picker as you could already see in Step 3 above. You can embed the videos in any HTML editor:

youtubevideoIn the Insert Moodle media pop up window that opens click Find or upload a sound, video or applet… This opens the file picker:

link to youtubeOnce you have selected the video, click the Insert button on the Insert Moodle media pop up. This will add a link in the editor that, when you save changes /post the message will embed the video.

As you can see, there are multiple options to connect your GAFE files to your Moodle courses (and we have not even mentioned Mahara ;-)).

Coming soon: Analytics Graphs!

Our virtual learning environment Moodle gathers quite a bit of data from its users. This data can be navigated by teachers on, for instance, the log page of an activity, or the outline page of a student, to obtain an impression of the access levels to the activity or the activity level of the student. However, it was not always easy to get a good overview and spot students with low commitment to the on-line course work.

Hence, Marcelo Schmitt, a Moodle developer from Brazil, designed a plugin that compiles data from a course and presents it in interactive charts that are easy to overview. It can be added as a side block in a Moodle course. This block is called Analytic Graphs and it is only visible to teachers. It offers a better way to keep track of the on-line activity of their students and the results scored in graded activities

We are in contact with the developer about some teething problems that the plugin still has. Once these are overcome, and we have created a Finnish translation for the block, we will introduce this new block in Lapinkampus Moodle as an extension to the functionality that is already available. Check out the screenshots below to get an impression of the functionality offered by the Analytics Graphs plugin (you can click on the pictures to get a larger version).

The Content access chart

content access page

The Hits distribution table

hits distribution

The Student information charts

student informationThe Assessment distribution chart

assessment distribution

These are not all the charts the plugin has to offer, so do check it out once it becomes available.