Moodle Competencies for evidence of learning

bernadette-parry-headshotBernadette Parry is the Client Support Coordinator at eWorks. Her role involves juggling all sorts of client-focused tasks including start-up TVC training, advanced Moodle training and support services. A self-confessed Moodle ‘geek’, Bernadette loves to discover new ways to navigate and make the most of Moodle. Currently she is excited about the inclusion of competencies and learning plans in Moodle 3.1, and ways that this function can be applied to the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.

Moodle competencies

For those of you who don’t know already, Moodle 3.1 comes bundled up with competencies and learning plans. This is perfect for the VET sector, where there is such an emphasis on demonstrating skills rather than simply knowledge. If you haven’t started using this feature, now is the time to get started.

What are competencies?

Competencies track what your students have demonstrated that they know or they can do. Instead of simply seeing which courses a student has completed, you can also see which competencies the student demonstrated whilst doing the courses. This is a powerful feature, especially when training students to work in practical fields such as trades.

How do we set up competencies?

Competencies can be set up in Moodle in three, easy steps:

  1. Make sure you already have the scale you require, such as ‘Not Yet Competent’, ‘Competent’. This can be set up by going to Administration> Site administration> Grades> Scales, see Scales.
  2. Set up a framework for a set of competencies – this needs to be done by an administrator in your site. I would suggest that you use a separate framework for each Unit of Competence, and add the year, eg ‘BSB20115 – Cert II in Business 2017’ to the name in case you want to update the framework in the future. This will also help your course creators to find the competencies they need to use. Instructions are available in the manually set up a competency framework video.
  3. Add competencies to this framework. Once again, I’d suggest adding the year to the name, eg ‘BSBWOR204 2017’.

This is a tedious process, and it is suggested that you use the Import competency framework plugin to do this. Instructions to use this plugin are available in the video importing the competency framework. This plugin will be in core Moodle 3.2!

Using competencies

Once the Competencies are set up, you can use them in courses.

  1. Add the appropriate competencies to the course
  2. Apply the appropriate competencies to the activities.

This step will ensure that you can track the competencies that your students have demonstrated by completing courses or activities. Information about doing this is in the applying competencies video.

Further information

Of course assessing competency is a little more complicated than that. Your VET students will need to demonstrate that they can do something more than once, over a time period and so on. To manage this, you may like to restrict access to an activity until the required skill is demonstrated in another activity, then award competency. For example, by completing activities A, B and C, a student demonstrates that they are competent in a competency. The student can’t complete activity C until activities A and B are successfully completed. The student is graded as competent once activity C is successfully completed. Or you may award competency manually. In any case, taking the time to set up competencies correctly, will save you time and effort when tracking whether or not your students are capable of doing what you, and their future employers, need them to be able to do.

Once you have competencies set up, you may like to look at implementing learning plans. More on that in a future blog post, but not until I get back from my imminent holiday to India! See Moodle docs for further information, read my colleague’s blog that introduces competency frameworks, and let me know if you have any queries.

Goodbye Moodle Progress Bar

bernadette-parry-headshotBernadette Parry is the Client Support Coordinator at eWorks. Her role involves juggling all sorts of client-focused tasks including start-up TVC training, advanced Moodle training and support desk services. A self-confessed Moodle ‘geek’, Bernadette loves to discover new ways to navigate and make the most of Moodle. Today she shares the exciting new features of The Completion Block, which replaces Moodle’s Progress Bar.

Demise of the Progress Bar block

The Progress Bar block in Moodle is a fabulous way to visually track progress through courses. Learners can see how they are progressing through the course, and teachers can see how their students are progressing. This is important, both as a motivational tool for students and a measure of engagement for teachers. The Progress Bar block has been very popular with most of our clients, so it was with dread that I read of its demise! It won’t be supported after Moodle 3.1. But never fear! There is a perfect replacement, with new and improved features – the Completion Progress block.

The Completion Progress block is maintained by Michael de Raadt – who also maintained the Progress Bar. According to the Moodle Progress Bar page, the Completion Progress block is faster, more efficient, easier to use, and more compatible with additional plugins. So this is good news!

Transition from Progress Bar to Completion Progress

As we transition between the Progress Block and Completion Progress Block, you will need to have both plugins installed for some time. First of all, you will need to install the Completion Progress block from https://moodle.org/plugins/block_completion_progress. Once it has been installed, it is recommended that you:

  1. go to Administration> Plugins> Blocks> Manage blocks
  2. find the ‘Progress Bar’
  3. click on the ‘Protect instances’ icon
  4. now you can no longer add a ‘Progress Bar’ block, nor delete any that exist
  5. go to your courses that use the Progress Bar, hide existing Progress Bar blocks, and create a Completion Progress block
  6. when all courses have a replacement Completion Progress block, you are ready to uninstall the Progress Bar block. This process is a great opportunity to do some Moodle housekeeping, such as re-evaluating courses that may be too long (should they be split in two?).

How do the Progress Bar and Completion Progress blocks compare?

It is useful to undertake a quick comparison of the two blocks, especially when at first glance they look very similar.

  1. Look and feel

The Progress Bar and Completion Progress blocks look very similar to the teacher as you can see below:

blog_progress_1  blog_progress_2

2. And the overview of students also looks the same:

blog_progress_3

To the student they look the same:
blog_progress_4

With both Completion Progress and Progress Bar you can select particular activities OR all activities to be included.

3. You may notice in the student view image that the Progress Bar block has an extra blue bar. This is because by default, if you choose to include all activities, the Progress Bar also includes the ‘Announcements’ as an activity by default.

4. With Completion Progress block, you can set it to include all activities that have completion set. This is a significant improvement.

5. If you add an activity to your course after you set up a Completion Progress, then it is automatically added to the Completion Progress (if you selected ‘all activities with completion settings’). A big time saver.

6. If you add an activity after you set up a Progress Bar, then it is NOT automatically added to the Progress Bar block.

Further information

A couple of extra useful tips for you:

  • As with the Progress Bar, if you go to Administration> Site administration> Plugins> Blocks> Completion Progress, then you can customise some of the settings and the colours that appear on the Completion Progress block.
  • When a student completes an activity, the page needs to be refreshed for the Completion Progress block to show the activity as completed (same as for Progress Bar, but easy to forget).

Our advice?

Change over to the Completion Progress block as soon as possible. It is a superior product, and you don’t want a last minute panic when the Progress Bar Block is no longer maintained. Let us know if you need a hand.

Customising text in Moodle emails

Bernadette ParryBernadette Parry is the Client Support Coordinator at eWorks. Her role involves juggling all sorts of client-focused tasks including start-up TVC training, advanced Moodle training and support desk services. A self-confessed Moodle ‘geek’, Bernadette loves to discover new ways to navigate and make the most of Moodle. Today she shares some tips for customising text in emails sent from Moodle.

Are you happy with the emails sent to your students and teachers from Moodle?

Moodle sends emails for many reasons. Some of them are:

  • Welcome
  • Password reset
  • Password confirmation
  • Assignment submitted notification
  • Assignment graded notification
  • Quiz attempt overdue

…and many others.

What if you wanted to change the text content of these emails to suit your organisation?

How to customise the text

From the language customisation area you can change the text of any email sent by Moodle.

  1. Go to Administration > Site administration > Language > Language customisation
  2. Select all items in the ‘Show strings of these components’ box (to do this select one of the components then press Ctrl-A (or Command-A on Mac) to select the entire list. Alternatively you can select the first item, hold the Shift key, then select the last item to select the entire list).
    changetext_01
  3. Next you need to search for the text you want to change. In this example I am changing the text sent out when a new user is created, so I searched for ‘account has been created for’.
    changetext_02
  4. Select Show strings
    changetext_03
  5. You will usually only get one string – if more are found, just choose the one you want.
    changetext_04
  6. Make your changes.Perhaps it really bothers you that there are a couple of full stops missing. Maybe you want to add a contact email address or just change the text to suit your organisation.Whatever your requirements it’s a good idea to start by copying the text into an external editor (perhaps Notepad) for editing before pasting the updated content back into the box for Local customisation.
    changetext_05
  7. When you’re happy with your changes, select Save changes to the language pack.
  8. Test your changes!

But wait, there’s more!

For more Moodle tips and tricks you might enjoy other popular blogs by Bernadette:

  1. SCORM and Moodle: Common issues and easy solutions
  2. Visually track you learners’progress (Moodle’s progress bar)
  3. Gathering feedback from your Moodle courses
  4. Moodle’s random glossary entry block

Moodle’s random glossary entry block

Bernadette ParryBernadette Parry is the Client Support Coordinator at eWorks. Her role involves juggling all sorts of client-focused tasks including start-up TVC training, advanced Moodle training and support desk services. A self-confessed Moodle ‘geek’, Bernadette loves to discover new ways to navigate and make the most of Moodle. Today she shares some insight into the creative use of Moodle glossary to engage your learners.

Moodle has a glossary?

Moodle’s glossary is a collection of entries that can be added to Moodle. I recently read a blog on excellent alternative uses for the Moodle glossary and found some of these suggestions both interesting and surprising. It’s amazing what you can do with a little creativity:

  1. Bizarre facts– use the glossary to treat your students to a host of bizarre facts.
  2. Graphics and images– there is the option to add pictures to the glossary and this can be a great way to relay facts and important information beyond text definitions.
  3. Biographies– of famous people that are related to the course topics can be included in the glossary.
  4. Student of the day– grab your students’ attention by letting them see themselves in the course! Personalisation taken to a whole new level.
  5. Quotes– use powerful quotes to motivate and inspire your learners.
  6. Movie library– list movies or TV shows related to the course. Be creative, cast the net wide and your students will pay attention.
  7. Book club– list books that are relevant to the course for learners to read. Again think outside the circle with this one in an effort to engage and encourage retention.

You can see the whole post here.

Random Glossary Entry block

The Random Glossary block sits on the Moodle sidebar and pulls a new entry (at random or sequentially) every day.  This means that the page looks different every day a learner visits it. Include a random glossary entry block to further engage your students in their learning. Think of it as encouraging ‘accidental’ learning!

This block has been set up to change the concept and definition daily, so that each day a new term can be displayed on the course page.

glossary_01

Alternatively, you can change the title of the block, and show just the definition, so that your students will really need to THINK! If they don’t know the answer, they can click on ‘view all entries’ to find out.

glossary_02

Turn it around, and have just the definition displaying, testing your students a little more with each visit. Note: to do this, make the definition the ‘concept’ and the ‘concept’ the definition in the glossary.

glossary_03

Time to play with the settings

By playing with the settings of the Random Glossary block, you can:

  1. allow students to add to the definitions (with files attached if you like)
  2. add/remove the links to view all entries, or add an entry. This means you can enable your students to add entries to the glossary (or not), and to view all the entries in the glossary (or not).
  3. have different terms change daily, weekly, or your chosen timeframe – maybe have ‘word of the week’.
  4. change the heading of the block.

But wait, there’s more!

For more Moodle tips and tricks you might enjoy other popular blogs by Bernadette:

  1. SCORM and Moodle: Common issues and easy solutions
  2. Visually track you learners’progress (Moodle’s progress bar)
  3. Gathering feedback from your Moodle courses