Making the Most of Moodle With Plug-Ins
I thought these plugins, and Leona's insights, would be of interest to some Moodle users and applaud Leona's willingness to experiment with them. Of course, readers need to pay heed to their institution's policy on plugins before running down this path. We always test them in a development environment at The College of Westchester before considering them for installation in our production environment. – KW
Living in the digital era means using online tools every day. Students use them as well, and are typically comfortable using tools like these at school. Online tools can bring many benefits to the educational process.
I’d like to share my experiences in using Moodle and its plugins in my classes. There are two reasons why I chose them. First, they are easy to use, so you don’t need to be very technologically savvy. Second, they allow me to make some activities automatic so my students and I don’t waste time. I’ve tested a number of plugins, picked out the best ones and created a list.
Some teachers pay great attention to attendance in the classroom. Some schools have blended learning, and student presence is a requirement. This plugin is a great teacher aid because it can track if a student was present, late, absent, or excused. Most teachers uses an attendance list to be aware of students’ presence, and isn’t it better to use a digital method for tracking attendance linked right to the course content?
2. Grade Me
Students upload their assignments and the teacher sees a list of submitted assignments, without grades. An advantage is that its convenient to evaluate student work since you don’t have to look through all the assignments students have sent you. I add this block to my home page and can immediately view what hasn’t been checked yet. What’s more, I’m an administrator and I can choose if to see other ungraded work submitted for other courses.
3. Offline Quiz
ACADEMIC MOODLE COOPERATION has developed this plugin, which works in a very original way – both online and offline. First of all, a teacher needs to create the quiz form in Moodle adding some multiple-choice questions. Students then fill in this form, and afterwards the teacher scans student answers as well as the quiz answers and compares them. Although the system automatically gives grades, I recommend you make sure there are no mistakes and students receive the right marks – just have a quick look at the evaluated quiz before sending them back to students.
Let’s imagine you have a question regarding your class activities. For example, you may want to know if it’s better for your students to work individually or in groups. Thanks to the Journal plugin you can receive student feedback to help you choose your methods going forward. This plugin is perfect for group work and discussions.
My students always complain that they have lots of things to do for school. In order not to miss anything important, having a checklist is a great idea. That’s why I recommend them the Checklist plugin. It works this way: Teachers create checklists for students and leave comments for each item. Students work on their tasks and one by one check off those things they have completed. If necessary, students can add new items as well. A little bonus: It’s possible to define a deadline for each task on the checklist.
Is it more convenient for your students to use mind-mapping when they study? If so, you can easily let them do it by switching your course to the MindMap Format. It allows students to create individual mind maps while they’re working in Moodle for better understanding of the issue they are studying. My students say that this plugin is adorable, since it lets them be creative and think bigger.
This is another plugin created by ACADEMIC MOODLE COOPERATION. The Student Folder allows students to upload their materials into a folder and make it visible for other students right away or after teachers approve it. Administrators can set limits for students, for example defining the number of files that can be uploaded, as well as their size.
This one combines a number of helpful tools for everyday use, such as information about courses students are enrolled in, the latest news and updates by their classmates or teachers, and so on. Everything is arranged in a user-friendly way so all the tools are always easily at hand.
Recently, the Unplag company created an Unplag plagiarism plugin for Moodle users. It helps students and teachers check if there are similarities between their writing and other documents. I use it because it shows similarity percentages immediately. The Unplag plagiarism plugin automatically checks uploaded files of practically any format against the Internet. If you’re interested in more details about a check, you can view a full report.
If students take distant learning or have blended learning, from time to time they need to schedule appointments in order to discuss any questions that come up. Personally, I use the Scheduler plugin to discuss study matters with those students who were absent due to illness and wanted me to explain to their homework assignments to them. Appointments can be scheduled for groups as well. What’s more, teachers suggest a range of time slots convenient for meetings, and students can choose any of them.
I’ve noticed that student motivation increased after we started using new tools in class like the ones I’ve listed here. My students work with pleasure and they love using plugins to make their study routines a bit more interesting and easier. And as for me, I’m happier working with highly-motivated students!