Moodle’s killer feature? The Gradebook

Allison Miller, eWorks Accredited Consultant

By now you will know that Allison Miller is a big fan of Moodle. She has already shown us how to reduce cheating, demonstrate professional currency, take advantage of forums, and even consider a Mahoodle. Now we learn what makes Moodle’s Gradebook so special, and why it is such a shame that so few users are taking advantage of all that it offers.

Moodle supports active learning

Moodle is an acronym which stands for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. In layman’s terms, this means that Moodle is a learning management system (LMS) which allows you to create online courses where learners actively interact with one another and collaborate to construct a course’s content through active research.

But how many Moodle courses are designed this way?

In Allison’s experience, however, a lot of Moodle courses have been designed as content repositories (aka places to publish teacher-directed content) where the majority of learner interactivity is driven by poorly designed online quizzes. These courses seriously under-utilise many of Moodle’s key learning features. Developed on the philosophy of constructivist and social constructionist approach to education, Moodle is designed to make online learning active and not just set and forget. This design mantra has driven the development of a multitude of activity options in Moodle, such as: journals, discussion forums, lessons/workshops, wikis, glossaries and databases. And it’s Moodle’s Gradebook which acts as the glue that sticks all of this active learning together.

How does it work?

Visually, Moodle’s Gradebook replicates your traditional Gradebook or marks book, where you list all of your learner’s names down the left hand side, and then along the top of the page you list all of the activities that will be undertaken and/or assessed. The matrix in the middle is then populated by your learners’ results. However, unlike a traditional marks book, as soon as you mark your learners’ work and provide them with feedback, this information is automatically populated into the Moodle Gradebook.

What makes the Gradebook so special?

  • Flexibility

Results can be assigned as a mark (eg out of 100) or a scale (eg resubmit, pass, fail). You can also use a marking rubric or include offline assignments. This allows you to provide feedback to your learners in Moodle for offline assignments and include these scores in the learner’s final result. You can even set different grade categories which will weight your learners’ marks accordingly. Results can also be manually edited or updated, if required. If more than one teacher is using the same course, learners can be assigned to a group so the teacher only sees the Gradebook for their learners.

  • Scheduling learning and assessment activities

The activities linked into the Gradebook allow you to schedule when your learners are working on which activity. Conditional settings such as ‘days available’ and ‘restrict access’ allow you to schedule what activities need to be completed by when. This helps your learners focus on the task at hand and provides the motivation to stay on track. It also helps them with their time management to meet key deadlines as Moodle locks them out of activities if they miss the due date.

  • Using the data in so many ways

Final Gradebook results can then be downloaded into a spreadsheet which can be uploaded into a student management system (SMS) or manipulated into graphs for other reporting purposes. The final Gradebook also contains all of the learning and assessment activities, together with the learner’s actual assessment pieces, ready to demonstrate learner’s educational interaction and competency. This means you have an effective way of meeting your learner assessment retention requirements.

What about the learners?

The Moodle Gradebook also gives learners more control over their learning as each learner can access their slice of the Gradebook. It will send automatic email notifications to learners when their work has been marked. This allows learners to receive timely feedback and information, leading them in the right direction for their next lot of learning and/or helping them to monitor any outstanding work.

Allison Miller is an important member of a team of Accredited Consultants at eWorks. The Accredited Consultant Program offers everything a consultant needs to start delivering eWorks’ e-learning solutions. Comprehensive training is provided, together with full ‘eWorks Accredited’ branding.

Contact Allison if you have any comments or queries about this article, Moodle or digital learning in general.