Moodle 3 features, part 7 Group Self-selection

Lapinkampus Moodle already featured the Group Choice module, which allowed teachers to present students with a set of pre-determined groups (gathered in a grouping), among which the students could choose. This was quite useful as it liberated the teachers from the time consuming task of group member division. The set up could be effectively used to make access to group tasks dependent on a group choice. However, it was not possible to allow students to create their own groups and limit membership to peers that they have selected themselves.

This is where the new Group Self-selection plugin comes in. All the teacher needs to to for this activity module is to create and select a grouping for the groups created by the students. The teacher can furthemore determine how many students must be in a group (minimum) and how many can be in a group (maximum) and set opening and closing dates for group creation. Finally there are settings specifying what students are allowed to do in the module.

The additional functionality of the Group Self-selection module makes it a candidate to replace the Group Choice module in the long run.

group self-selection student view


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.


Moodle 3 Features, part 5 User menu

In Moodle 2 the user menu could be accessd via the Administration block under the link ”My profile settings”. In Moodle 3 the user menu has moved to the navigation bar, from where it can be opened and used as shown in the image below with instructions for changing the password (NB: Only users with manual accounts can change their password, if you use your school network account, the password can only be changed in the school network!).

Change Password in a Course with the Campus Theme

HOWEVER, this functionality is only available in themes that have been upgraded for Moodle 3. Unfortunately, some of our present themes (like the LapinAMK theme) are still Moodle 2 themes. If you need to access the user menu in one of these themes, the work around is to click your name (This opens your profile), click Edit profile and then in the breadcrumb trail click Preferences (or, in Finnish, Asetukset):

Preferences/AsetuksetIt may take a while before we can update our LapinAMK theme to a Moodle 3 version. Until that time teachers might choose to replace this theme with a Moodle 3 theme like Klass, a theme with blue colours. Changing a course theme is done in the course settings:

Change Theme


Moodle 3 Features, part 4 Quiz question types

Moodle 3 incorporates three new question types in the standard selection for Moodle quizzes. These quiz question types were developed by the British Open University and heve been available before as third party plugins. All three types involve the student dragging and dropping elements onto a larger element in order to complete it. This sounds abstract, so examples can clarify the idea.

Drag text onto text (drag and drop into text)

The first type allow the creation of cloze texts where students do not fill in words, nor select them from a drop down list, but drag and drop them into the gaps in the text.

dragdroptextDrag text onto image (drag and drop markers)

The second type allows the student to drag and drop text labels onto a background image. The place where the label should go must be defined.

dragdroptextimageDrag image onto image (drag and drop onto image)

The third type allow the creation of tasks in which an image needs to be modified or completed by dragging one or more image elements onto the background image.

dragdropimageonimageThese new question types, especially the ones involving pictures, are a bit more complex to create than most of the other standard quiz question types. Therefore, they should not be used simply for the sake of having a cool image task in the quiz. However, for visualising specific understanding (e.g. how to complete an electrical circuit, where do intestines fit, etc.) they can be quite useful.


Moodle 3 Feautures, part 3 Flexible sections format

One of the new plugins in Moodle 3 is a course format called ”Flexible sections”. It allows sections/topics to be placed within other sections in either open or collapsed form. The collapsed section links will open the section on its own page when clicked. Note that this new format may not work with some of the older Moodle themes! Changing the course format back to the default Topics format, will return the sections to their normal positions.

flexible sections

A course page with flexible sections enabled.


flexible sections

When editing is turned on more options become available to manage the sections.


Moodle 3 Features, part 2 Assignment

The assignment module in Moodle 3 looks almost the same as in Moodle 2.7. In the assignment settings you may notice that under submission types, if on-line text is chosen as submission type, a maximum word limit may be set, so as to force students to adhere to brevity, for example, in summaries or reports.

The most notable new feature in the assignment, however, only becomes visible when a student submits a PDF file. PDF files are unwieldy and sometimes impossible to annotate for teachers. To deal with this, Moodle 3 contains a simple PDF editor, as shown in the pictures below:

Annotate PDF

The PDF editor button becomes available only when a PDF file is submitted.


Annotate PDF

The annotation tools are a bit crude and take some getting used to, but they are essentially functional.


Moodle 3 Features, part 1 Forum

The upgrade of Lapinkampus Moodle and Open Moodle to version 3 and up will not cause drastic shifts in the functionality of the environment, but will bring about a great number of incremental improvements. Some of these improvements and additional functionality will be highlighted in this and subsequent entries.

The Forum module in Moodle is the most used and most flexible tool that can perform almost all functions of the assignment module (including the Urkund plagiarism check), but combines it with the interactivity of a discussion tool. In the upgrade from Moodle version 2.7 to 3.0 the Forum will aquire a few improvements which are shown on the images below:

When writing a forum messages users in a group forum can decide to post their message in all the groups that they have access to.

When writing forum messages users in a group forum can decide to post their message in all the groups that they have access to.


navigation between threads

In a forum it has become easier to navigate between discussion threads and it is now possible to subscribe to only one discussion.


Subscription to single threads

Subscription to single threads can also be done on the forum page. Also note that the back button now returns to the same topic you departed from.


Mitä kuuluu verkko-opintojen kehittämiselle vuonna 2016?

Lupasin jo ennen joulua kollegoille, että raapustan tänne pari riviä vuodelle 2016 asetetuista tavoitteista koskien verkko-opintojen kehittämisestä. Hieman viivähti tämä tänne kirjoittaminen, parempi kai kuitenkin myöhään kuin ei milloinkaan.

Lapin ammattikorkeakoululla on käynnissä mittava opetussuunnitelmatyö, OPS2017. Uusien opetussuunnitelmien lähtökohtana on osaamis- ja ongelmaperustainen oppiminen. Muita keskeisiä valintoja ovat yhteisopettajuus ja kehittävä arviointi. Arjen tasolla käytännössä OPSin toteuttamisen rungon muodostavat ”semesterikohtaiset” oppimisprojektit. Olemme siis ottamassa aikamoista tiikerin loikkaa pois sirpalemaisuudesta, opettajalähtöisyydestä ja yksin tekemisestä. Miten tämä sitten vaikuttaa verkko-opintojen kehittämiseen? Siten, että edellä kuvatut lähtökohdat ja toimintatavat on kyettävä toteuttamaan myös kokonaan verkossa. Me eOppimispalveluissa olemme mukana yhdessä osaamisalojen kanssa suunnittelemassa ja toteuttamassa mahdollisimman mielekkäitä tapoja toteuttaa semesteriprojekteja, oppijalähtöisiä menetelmiä ja kehittävää arviointia verkossa. Tässäpä haastetta meille kaikille!

Mitäpä muuta. Uuden OPSin toteuttaminen edellyttää henkilöstön osaamisen kehittämistä ja tarvelähtöisesti räätälöityjä opettajien koulutuksia toteutetaan eri koulutuksissa. Yhtenä uutena asiana on GoogleAppsforEducation (GAFE) –palvelun käyttöönotto ammattikorkeakoulussa. Tähän saakka palvelua on lähinnä pilotoitu YAMK-koulutuksissa. GAFE tuo tarpeellisia toiminnallisuuksia oppijalähtöisten menetelmien hyödyntämisen avuksi ja esimerkiksi käänteisen luokkahuoneopetuksen soveltamiseen.

Ei sovi myöskään unohtaa työtä, jota tullaan tekemään opintotoimistojen verkko-ohjausvalmiuksien ja opettajatuutoreiden verkko-ohjauskäytänteiden kehittämiseksi, labrojen virtualisoimiseksi ja opiskelijoiden käyttöön suunnatun mobiilisovelluksen loppuun saattamiseksi. Nämä ovat enemmän ja vähemmän vielä kaikki aluillaan.

Olipa kehittämiskohteita sitten 10 tai 20,  tekemistä ja haasteita riittää. Ollaanpa kuulolla näiden proggisten etenemisestä!