Allison Miller is a regular contributor to eWorks’ blog who is passionate about engaging learners, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the world of work. Today Allison shares how to make marking easier with Moodle.
Having students submit their work into Moodle has many advantages. Not only does it provide accessible and timely training and assessment, it also evidences the training and assessment requirements for Standard 1 of the Standards for RTOs (2015). However, marking online in Moodle Gradebook takes a bit of getting used to when compared with marking students’ paper-based assessments, so here are few simple steps to making marking easier in Moodle (try saying that quickly ten times in a row).
1. Start at the designing and planning stage
Ensuring that your assessment requirements in Moodle are set up correctly is the very first step. This will ensure that your students are given the right information, and allow you to provide them with timely and effective feedback.
This starts with setting up the grades in the Moodle activity (eg an Assignment or a Quiz) with the right marking scheme. For example:
- Quiz activity in Moodle by default only allows you to provide a ‘number’ mark for correct answers. In competency based assessment, the use of numbers to mark a student’s work is not desirable. To ensure students understand these quiz results, it is a good idea to provide a written explanation as part of the introduction of the quiz about how these marks contribute to their overall marks eg: correct marks means they have ‘completed’ the quiz activity correctly. Zero marks means they are yet to complete the activity correctly.
- When allocating grades to an Assignment activity, ensure that you only provide a Competent/Not yet Competent result on the final assessment activity in Moodle. All other assessment activities, whether they are Learning / Formative activities or Assessment / Summative activities, should only have a Completed/Satisfactory / Not yet Completed/Satisfactory result.
The above may require to you add a customised course scale as Moodle may not have the required grading option for your RTOs grading requirements.
If you have a learning / assessment tasks which does not require an Activity to be added in Moodle eg class presentations, you can add a grade item in the Gradebook to cater for this activity.
2. Set up for easy marking
Gradebook is Moodle’s killer feature as it electronically stores students’ work, results and feedback, making it a lot easier to:
- mark students’ work without having to lug around heavy paper-based assessments
- provide timely feedback to students as notifications are sent to students as soon as work is marked in Moodle, so no more waiting until you see your students to return their work, and
- find requested information for an NCVER non-financial activity audit. With Moodle this is a breeze compared to trawling through paper-based archives.
However, separating the wheat from the chaff in terms of finding which students’ work needs marking in the Moodle Gradebook can be time consuming if you do not set up Moodle correctly.
Start by ensuring that Moodle provides email notifications to trainers when students have submitted their work. This provides a trigger for the trainer to go into Moodle. Once logged into Moodle, each course on the trainer’s home page should be set to show “You have assignments that need attention”. This notification allows the trainer to go straight to the activities which need marking without having to search through each course and each course activity individually.
Once in the Moodle Gradebook, the trainer should set the filter option at the bottom of the page to “requires grading”. This means that the Gradebook will only show those students’ work which needs to be assessed. Upon assessing a student’s work, the option to mark the next student’s work becomes available, thereby streamlining the marking process.
3. Group the learners together
Moodle also provides for efficiency in the delivery of training and assessment by allowing more than one trainer to use a Moodle course at the same time, without their students interacting with any other students outside of their class using Moodle Groups. This means that course updates only need to happen in one course at any given time.
However, finding your students in among your colleagues’ students can be time consuming, so by creating Moodle Groups, you can filter to only see your students in the Gradebook. This feature will also allow you to get an overall perspective of where your students are at with completing all of the required tasks for the training program.
4. Train the students to submit their work in the correct format
If students submit their work in Moodle using the PDF file format, trainers can then view and comment on this work directly in the Moodle Gradebook. This avoids the need to download files to view, and then having to save them somewhere if comments have been written in them before uploading back into Moodle for the student to receive their results and feedback. Why not remind them of the correct format by customising your Moodle emails.
5. Provide the right feedback
When providing feedback in Moodle Gradebook always ensure you:
- Add the date on which you provided feedback and your name – Moodle records the date that the last lot of feedback was given but not the dates of any feedback which may have been previously given on any assignment task. Nor does Moodle record which ‘teacher’ has provided the feedback. So, by writing the date and your name you will establish a chronological trail of feedback. This will make validation of assessment and non-financial audit processes a lot simpler.
- Explain the what and why of the assignment outcome – If students are doing more than one Moodle course or assignment at a time, it can be confusing when they receive multiple feedback notifications from Moodle so writing ‘well done’ as your feedback does not cut it. Always include the following in your feedback so your students (and the auditor) are clear about what the student has done:
- The assignment/activity name
- The course / unit name / title
- The reason why the student has correctly/incorrectly completed the assessment
- How the student could be successful or improve their work next time (if necessary)
- Keep a bank of feedback responses – if your Moodle learning and assessment activities are well designed, the evaluation of the evidence is easier to assess because the assessment criteria is clearly stated and easy to follow. This often means that the feedback you provide to students is very similar, so collecting a bank of feedback responses and saving them electronically into Notepad or similar means that you do not need to type the same thing over and over. You can simply copy and paste it into the feedback section of the Moodle Gradebook, and then contextualise the feedback for each student’s work.
6. Maintain good Moodle housekeeping
Moodle is a software program, which means it is susceptible to technical issues as is any other software program. As part of your good Moodle housekeeping you should periodically back-up each course with all of the students’ work in it. Also, ensure that you download a copy of this Moodle course back-up and store it safely away from where Moodle is housed.
A little less frequently (eg end of year/program), and after doing a backup, you should also ‘reset’ your Moodle course to clear out all students and their work. This will take your Moodle course back to its original pristine format to allow you to start a fresh with new students or for a new year. You can then restore your backed-up version at any time if you need to.
When in doubt, ask
If you’re not making the most out of educational technology but you’re ready to get started, it’s time to contact the friendly eWorks team.