Category Archives: Course Design

Getting Started in Moodle (for Faculty)

Are you a new faculty member, or do you need a refresher on how to set up your Moodle course? We’ve aggregated some posts on key tasks in Moodle that we hope will help as you prepare your courses for this academic year.

For more Moodle topics, check out our complete list of Tech Docs. Need more help with Moodle? Email us at help@brynmawr.edu.

Adding Folders in Moodle

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to add folders to your courses:

Method 1: Drag-and-drop

1) After logging in and going to your course in Moodle, make sure to click “Turn editing on” in the upper right-hand corner.

2) Choose the folder you want to add to Moodle on your computer. (Note: if the folder is not already compressed, this will not work. To compress a folder, right click and choose “Send to -> compressed (zipped) folder.” On a Mac, press control+click and then select “Compress (folder name here).“) Locate the zipped folder on your computer and drag it to your course into the section you want it to appear.

3) Once you drag it onto your course, Moodle will ask if you would like to: “create file resource, add a SCORM package, or unzip it” and have it as a folder. In most cases, you will want to choose “

The folder should now show up on your Moodle course with all of its files as a resource for your students.

Method 2: Create an empty folder and add files separately

1) After logging in and going to your course in Moodle, make sure to click “Turn editing on” in the upper right-hand corner.

2) Click on “Add an activity or resource” and choose “Folder” from the suite of icons.

3)  Put in a Name and Description for the folder. If you just want an empty folder for now, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Save and return to course.” If you want to add files to the folder now, continue with Step 4.

4) You can either drag and drop files into the Content box with the blue arrow, or click the Add button in order to choose and upload files from your computer.

5) After you have all the files you want in the folder, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Save and return to course.” Once the folder is on your site, you can edit the contents at any time by clicking on the Update icon.

Group Settings for Moodle Activities

In some Activities you will find, midway in the setup page, a section called “Common module settings.” Here you will find the options to include Group settings. Depending on how you want to set up your activity, you can choose to organize the activity to Separate or Visible Groups.

Group Settings:

  • Separate Groups: By selecting Separate Groups, your activity will be organized into a separate section for each group. Groups will not be able to see the sections of other groups. It creates a private space for group work.
  • Visible Groups: By selecting Visible Groups, your activity will be organized into separate sections for each group, but groups will be able to see the sections of other groups. This is useful if you want groups to hand in their own assignment, but want the whole class to collaborate and work together.

Groups in Moodle

Groups are a really useful feature of Moodle that allow an instructor to create any number of groups, personally or auto-created, with certain parameters from their list of enrolled students. Groups can be used to set up lab sections, make project groups, or closely utilize features within Moodle activities (such as OU tools).

Making a Group
This guide will show you how to make your own groups. To auto-create groups, see the instructions below.

  1. To begin, select Participants on the Administration block, and select Groups from the settings (gear icon) on the upper right-hand side of the page to navigate to the page where you will create and configure your groups.
  2. Click Create Group to create a new group, and enter the group name.
    1. You may optionally enter a description of the group, include a picture to identify the group, or enter an enrollment key for students to self-enroll into groups.
  3. Click Save Changes when finished. This will bring you back to the Groups page.
  4. To add users to your group, select the group you’ve created and click the Add/Remove Users button.
    1. Add users by selecting their names in the right column labeled Potential Members, then click the Add button in the center.
  5. When you are finished adding users, click Back to Groups in the bottom left of the page to return to the menu.

Auto-Creating Groups

  1. To create groups automatically, click the Auto-Create Groups button on the Groups page.
  2. Set a naming scheme, e.g. Group @ will create Group A, Group B, Group C, etc., whereas Group # will create Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, etc.
  3. Select whether you want to specify the number of groups or the number of members per group and enter the number of groups or number of members as necessary.
  4. Select the role from which to create the members (e.g. Auditor or Registered Student)
  5. Choose how to allocate the group members. Because these groups are being automatically created, you can choose to allocate them in the following ways:
    1. Randomly
    2. Alphabetically
      1. First name, last name
      2. Last name, first name
      3. ID number
  6. Optionally, you can choose the grouping you would like these groups to be created in. Then, click Submit when finished.

View Moodle Site as a Student (for Teachers)

If at any time you wish to see the course the way a student or TA sees it, you have the option to switch your role.

Click on your name in the upper right-hand corner of Moodle. You should see an option at the bottom of the drop-down menu that says “Switch role to…“. Click this to see a list of roles that you may select (see this post on Add/Remove Users in a Moodle Site for a list of roles and their meanings in Moodle). Please note that this only works inside a course page and is not available on the Dashboard.

Once you select a different role, you may view your course this way, but it won’t let you participate in activities as if you were a student (e.g. take a quiz, submit an assignment, etc.).

When you’re ready to switch back to your regular role, just click on your name again and choose “Return to my normal role“.

Organize a Moodle Site: Topics vs. Weeks

Moodle gives you the option of setting up your course by topic/theme or by week. This allows you to customize the layout so that it is tailored to your course.

1) To change this setting, look to Settings (gear icon) on the right-hand side of the page and click the “Edit Settings” link.

2) Look for the “Course Format” underneath “Description.” Click on the drop-down menu that will allow you to choose from “Topics Format” and “Weekly Format.” If you choose the ‘”Weekly Format,” your course will be organized according to week. Note: You should make sure that your course start date is correct if you choose this option (these settings will also be found on this page). For the “Topics Format,” you should make sure to set the amount of topics you will need. With both formats, you should set the number of weeks/topics to the correct number for your course.

3) When you are done, click the “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the page. Now when you return to your course, your page should be organized in the format you have chosen. If you make a mistake or wish to change something later, you can always go back and make the change in the “Edit Settings” page.

Create and Manage Assignments in Moodle

Use a Moodle Assignment activity to:

  • Receive papers or problem sets electronically. Moodle is more secure and private than e-mail, is available to all students, collects all files into a single place, and time-stamps submissions. You can download all submissions for an Assignment at once for printing and/or electronic annotation.
  • Grade blind. If you choose this option, Moodle identifies submissions with codes, and only reveals students’ names after you’ve assigned grades. (Note: if students are uploading files, you will need to warn them NOT to include their name in the filename or on the pages of the file.)
  • Create an item in your Moodle Gradebook. Moodle Assignment isn’t only for receiving electronic submissions. You can also create Assignment activities for “offline” assignments, such as attending a colloquium, so that you and your students can track completion and any points awarded.
  • Place assignment deadlines on the Moodle course calendar. Students can subscribe to reminders and “push” the calendar to other calendar programs (Office365, Google, iCal, etc).

How to Create an Assignment

  1. Turn editing on.
  2. Click Add an activity or resource at the bottom of a course block.
  3. Select Assignment from the menu and click Add. This opens an Adding a new Assignment page.
  4. Enter an Assignment name.
    • Tip: Include the date the Assignment is due in name, so it is visible on the main course page.
  5. Add a Description, which students will see when they click on the Assignment link.
    • If your instructions are short, you can put them here.
    • If your instructions are long and/or you want students to print them out, upload an assignment sheet under Additional files, and use this space to direct students to it.
    • See Guidelines for Electronic File Submission, below, for things to include in instructions for this type of assignment.
  1. Under Availability, check Enable next to the following and set the date and time to specify:
    • Allow submissions from — the earliest date/time a student can submit
    • Due date — the date/time after which submissions will be marked as late
    • Cut-off date — the date/time Moodle stops accepting submissions (not visible to students).
  1. Under Submission Type, check Online text (if you want students to enter text in a text box) and/or File submissions (if you want students to upload a file) as applicable. Depending on your choice, you can set Word limit (online text) or the max number and size of uploaded files. Note that many of your students come from a GoogleDocs type workflow, where they shared links to online files with teachers, rather than emailing copies or handing in printouts. If you don’t want links, uncheck Online text and explain this to students in your instructions.

The remaining settings, including Grade, are optional, and are shown collapsed by default. Expand them to adjust as needed. Please refer to the inline Moodle documentation (click the question mark icons) for more information and email help@brynmawr.edu for a consultation if you have any questions.

Tips for Electronic File Submission Assignments

If you want students to submit files to you electronically, here is info you can include in the assignment instructions to make the process go more smoothly:

  • Preferred file format. If you need files to be in a certain format (e.g., Word docx or PDF) for your grading workflow, be sure to tell students this. Students who shared links to online documents with teachers and classmates in high school, may not be very familiar with the concept of a “file format,” but all document-editing tools, including online-only ones like GoogleDocs, can save documents in Word (doc/docx), PDF and .rtf formats. Students can search their program’s help docs or LinkedIn Learning for step-by-step instructions. PDFs generally preserve formatting best across different platforms.
  • Preferred file naming conventions. Anyone who is sharing files should consider about whether their filenames make sense for recipients. “Paper1.pdf” may make sense to students, but having 40 files in your Download folder with that name won’t help you. Tell your students what info to include (i.e., course number, their last name) in the filename to make it easier for you to identify files. If you’re grading blind, tell them what info NOT to include. Hint: avoid accents and special characters, as some file systems don’t accept them.
  • Header/footer information. What should students include or not include in page headers or footers? If you plan to print submissions, page numbers and last names might be essential, but if you are grading blind, you may not want names visible anywhere. If students need instructions on how to add page numbers and/or edit headers and footers in a document they can search their program’s help docs or LinkedIn Learning.
  • Citation conventions. Do you want students to use footnotes, endnotes or parenthetical citations? Is there a particular style guide (MLA, APA, etc.) they should follow? Should URLs in citations be hyperlinks you can follow? Should they spelled out in visible text or? (For example, papers published online often adopt the accessibility best practice of making the title of a work in a bibliography a link, and let viewers hover over or click on the link to see the URL, but if you plan to print the files, you may need the full URL to be visible.)

Note about Microsoft Track Changes. If you use Microsoft’s Track Changes to annotate student work while grading, please note that it is only available in the full desktop version of Word (rather than Word online). All students can access this version on public lab computers, and Bryn Mawr students can download it to their personal devices through their Office365 accounts. If you want to ensure students can view the Track Changes mark-up anywhere, you can export the Word doc as a PDF with the mark-up showing.

Assignment FAQs

Can students submit group work through a Moodle Assignment?

Yes! You will first need to set up the Groups (see Groups in Moodle). Go to the Assignment, click Edit settings, and scroll down to the Group submission settings. Set Student submit in groups to turn on group submissions, and select which groups should be used under Grouping for student groups. It’s generally a good idea to test activities using groups with multiple “students” so you can see how the settings will work. Educational Technology Services would be glad to set up a sandbox for you, and serve as “students” for these tests. E-mail help@brynmawr.edu for a consultation.

How do I grade blindly in Moodle?

Go to the Assignment, click Edit Settings and scroll down to Grade. Set Blind marking? to Yes. Moodle will display assignment submissions to Teachers using participant numbers in place of names. Once you’ve finished grading the assignments, go the Assignment, click on Edit settings, and select Reveal student identities.

How do I download all files submitted for an Assignment at once?

Go to the assignment, and click Download all submissions in the list under Assignment Administration in the Administration block.

How do I give students an extension or make exceptions to a deadline?

To give extensions or make exceptions in advance, go to the Assignment and click User overrides (or Group overrides for a group) under Assignment administration. See the Assignment overrides screencast for a demo. To give an extension after a Cut-off date has passed (and users can no longer submit), go to the Assignment, click View all submissions, find the student’s name, and click Edit, then choose Grant extension from the drop-down menu.

Forums in Moodle

Need a space for you and your students to have discussions? Have response questions that your students need to reply and comment on? Here are step-by-step instructions on how to add the Forum, as well as helpful information on the different types of forums and settings.

1. Select “Forum” from the “Add an activity or resource” menu on your Moodle course page. (Make sure editing is turned on first)

2. Enter the name and a description.

3. Choose the Forum type:

  • A single simple discussion: the instructor posts one thread and students discuss it
  • Each person posts one discussion: every student posts a thread, all of which can be discussed by the class
  • Q and A forum: students ask questions in threads and the instructor (or other students) post answers
  • Standard forum for general use: a typical forum, everyone can post threads and everyone can reply
  • Standard forum displayed in a blog-like format: essentially the same as “standard forum for general use“, but gives the participant the option to view each discussion topic with its text, like a blog post instead of a discussion thread.

4. Decide whether or not you want email notifications for Forum posts under “Subscription and tracking“.

There are other options available, so feel free to look around and click on the grey question mark icon to learn more about any of the settings.

5. Click “Save and Display” to view the Forum or “Save and return to course” to go back to the course page.

Moodle Workshop for Peer Review Set-Up (For Faculty)

The Moodle Workshop has the potential to be extremely beneficial. Any course that relies heavily on peer review may find this activity especially desirable. A good example of where the workshop activity could be useful might include creative writing classes, freshman seminars, and performance reviews. The setup for a Workshop can become complicated, but if you follow the steps outlined in the document below, you will be able to create a powerful peer review tool for your class.

Workshop Documentation Moodle 3.2
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