Assignment

 
 
Picture of Danniett Howard
Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 
When my students  copy and paste text created in either Word 2003 or Word 2007 into an html editor in Moodle and save, a whole load of formatting script is added to the top of the text.  Is there is a solution to this problem? Thanks
 
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Mary Cooch
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
Group Documentation writersGroup Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup TestersGroup Translators
Hi Danniett. Yes - there are several solutions to what is a common issue:
  1. encourage them to type directly into Moodle and bypass Word altogether
  2. click the icon (with a W) in the toolbar clean word html which is meant to get rid of that stuff - but I'm not convinced it works with 2007
  3. use OpenOffice instead of Word
  4. paste their Word stuff into a text editor like notepad and then paste from their into Moodle's html editor.
Personally I'd go for (1) smile
 
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Picture of Danniett Howard
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

Thanks Mary, for such a clear response. Option one does sound the best, but can the students save the assignment in Moodle and go back to it? Do they have to type the assignment in word then re-type? I'm a novice so any help you offer is greatly appreciated.

Danniett

 
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Mary Cooch
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
Group Documentation writersGroup Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup TestersGroup Translators
Are you using the online text assignment? They should be able to start typing, save and then go back and add more at a later date -as long as you haven't graded them. But when you set up the online text assignment you can set it to "allow resubmissions" so they can still go back and improve it after you have marked it. They don't need to use Word at all -unless you are usiing the advanced uploading of files or the upload a single file assignment type - but if it's just some basic text, like an essay, then the online text is fine
 
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Picture of Danniett Howard
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

Yes, I'm using an online text assignment. Thanks again, I will check my settings and allow resubmissions, if I'm not doing so at present.

You have been a great help, I wish I had not been so reluctant to seek help in the Moodle forum. 

You have a wonderful day!

Danniett 

 
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Mary Cooch
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
Group Documentation writersGroup Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup TestersGroup Translators
Why were you reluctant? There are loads of people all around the world here who like helping out with Moodlebig grin Come back any time!
 
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Picture of Russ Hunt
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

Reading through this discussion of what is (according to this response) a "common issue," what struck me immediately is that it's not, in fact, all that common. It makes no sense to me, given this discussion, that it's only happened to three of my students this year -- especially when I suggested at the beginning that they write their stuff with Word or whatever and then paste it in. I'd have expected it to happen most of the time. I'm troubled, too, that -- given the view that this is a common issue -- the assumption seems to be that it's the user's problem. Nor am I enthusiastic about the suggestions regarding what the users might do to work around it.

I don't want my students to type directly into Moodle, because it's not actually a word processor, and what I want them doing is writing thoughtfully, saving and revising, and then submitting. I don't want to tell them they need to use Open Office (even though I'd much prefer they did) because it seems to me my focus ought to be on the course, the text, and the learning, and not on the choice of software. And I think pasting the text into notepad and then into Moodle is another extra step that is a workaround for a problem that ought not to be there in Moodle in the first place. (And I can't figure out what "click the icon (with a W) in the toolbar clean word html which is meant to get rid of that stuff - but I'm not convinced it works with 2007" means. What icon?)

It seems like someone might suggest, well, this sounds like a technical problem that ought to be solvable, since so many other input systems don't seem to include and display the Word XML markup . . . (Granted, they all screw up a lot, one way or another, and Word really doesn't play well with others, but still: it's what virtually all our students are using.) This may be discussed elsewhere in the forum, and perhaps someone's suggested that elsewhere. I'll keep looking.


 
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St Petersburg, Russia
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Russ,

You don't say what version of Moodle that you're using but I'll bet it's pre v2.0.

All pre 2.0 versions of moodle (except the CLAMP LAE 1.1 distro based on v1.9.9) use the HTMLArea Javascript editor which does not handle Word formatted text (that is, it just ignores all the Word style information and leaves it in place to corrupt things). When you paste Word text into the TinyMCE editor that's embedded in the moodle 2.0 (and LAE 1.1 distro of 1.9.9) you'll see that all Word styles are stripped out except formatting codes such as bold, etc. So, yes, there has been a horrible problem with pasting text from Word and it's finally been addressed with the new built-in TinyMCE editor. You can try it out on this forum -- paste from MS-Word and then hit the [HTML] button and you'll see that there are no Word style codes.

Cheers

Mark

 
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Ben talking on the phone beside a monitor
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

Russ,

Until the millenium (or Moodle 2.0) arrives, one easy solution is to save as .rtf, then copy and paste. I just tested and it works fine. No xml markup.

Here's a video (for Mac, no less!) showing how to do that.

 
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Picture of Russ Hunt
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

Ben -- thanks, but what I'm really trying to avoid here is having to tell my students that there's a workaround involving different programs. The reason I decided to start using Moodle was specifically that I have found challenges using different programs, from students saying things like, "I signed up for an English course, not a computer course."  Saving as *.rtf or ascii, using Notepad or Open Office, whatever, all involve requiring the students to learn practices which may be important, but which aren't "English." I've used my own smorgasbord of programs for years -- HyperNews, Wikispaces, Blogger, our own email list system, our own student Web sites -- but every year I've dealt with students who don't ever attend to whether they're using a browser or a word processor, Internet Explorer or Word, and while I think they ought to, there are a lot of things I think they ought to think about. Moodle was supposed to let me push that stuff aside.

 
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Picture of Russ Hunt
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

Thanks, Mark.  Yes, our IT folks are very leery of switching to 2.0 in the middle of the year.  So we're still using 1.x, whatever it is.

But what I do not understand (and what I guess I didn't make clear) is that in fact this doesn't happen all that often.  I have so far been unable to replicate it myself -- although I do know that it's happened, and that Word XML code is what I'm seeing when it does. But it's not just a matter of pasting Word, because I've tried it every way I can think of. I haven't had a chance to ask the students concerned what they're doing, but I'm pretty sure they won't actually know (the one I have discussed it with said, "I used someone else's computer to post").

 
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Picture of Bob Puffer
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

This happens with Word 2007 and newer.

 
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Picture of Russ Hunt
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

Bob --

Hm. This actually doesn't match my experience: I haven't been able to replicate it with Word 2010. I no longer have W2007 accessible, so I can't test with that. Maybe I should find it, because it may well be that that's what my students are running into.

 
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Kate & fiddle
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 
Does this happen even when they click on "Toggle HTML Source" in the upper right-hand corner? It only happens to me if I forget to toggle. I go back and forth a lot between the source code view and the regular view. Often I paste my doc into the source code view but then format in the regular view.

- Kate D.
 
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Picture of Itamar Tzadok
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers
It doesn't. Pasting in HTML source mode is virtually converting the content to plain text. Of course, all formatting is lost, but where formatting is not an issue the toggle is a reasonable workaround. smile
 
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Kate & fiddle
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 
That's what I thought, so I was wondering why Daniett's students couldn't just use the toggle. I suppose they don't want to lose their formatting and have to do it over, and perhaps they don't know any HTML. What I do is paste all the break tags in before I leave the source code page, so I don't lose my major organization. And I don't bother to format much while I'm composing a file, but wait to do it in the editor after I paste it. I suppose Daniett could write up some suggestions like that.

But that reminds me, is there a way to keep the code readable? I type or paste it in all nicely organize, but then after toggling back and forth it all squishes together and it's hard to find anything.

- Kate
 
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Picture of Itamar Tzadok
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers
Well, if you toggle, you may as well paste first, Clean Word HTML (cwh), toggle and delete the opening chunk of the MS style definitions. This way the main formatting is preserved.

Now, if you do that you should actually do something weirder, that is, paste first, toggle HTML, toggle back, Clean Word HTML etc. That's because the Clean Word HTML appears to clean also significant spaces (or perhaps it's not the Editor but the particular rendering of the Word HTML) such that some words are attached to one another. I think that the toggling to HTML and back before cleaning the Word HTML prevents that from happening. smile
 
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Picture of barbara beckmeyer
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 
This is a little convoluted but it works pretty darn well...you send the Word Document as an attachment using Google mail (gmail.com) then you have the option to view as html. Choose that option and copy and paste it into MOODLE and it will save formatting and clean up the very messy Word code.


 
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Ben talking on the phone beside a monitor
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers
The even easier Google trick is to use Google documents. Rather than emailing yourself an attachment, just open your Gmail account, click on Documents, upload the file, Google converts it, you copy and paste from Google documents into the Moodle textbox.

Does anyone know whether the tinyMCE editor that will replace the current html editor will do a better job of cleaning up Word?
 
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Picture of Danniett Howard
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 
 I did some checking. What if the student does not have a (gmail.com account)?
 
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Mary Cooch
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
Group Documentation writersGroup Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup TestersGroup Translators
Do they really have to type in an external editor - is it not possible for them just to type straight into Moodle?
 
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Picture of Danniett Howard
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

Yes, they can type straignt into Moodle. However, when I first set-up the course, I was advised to have the students copy and paste. Thanks to all the Moodle Users helpful input, I now know better. I just don't want to make such a significant change right now, since the majority of the students are not having copying and pasting problems. I will definely revise my directions when this semester ends.

I really need to know how to advise the students that are having problems who need to delete the formatting script from their assignments.

Danniett

 
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Ben talking on the phone beside a monitor
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers
I almost never disagree w/ Mary -- and the last time I did, I changed my mind half a year later -- but the big drawback we've seen to typing straight into Moodle is slow typing. If you don't do something with Moodle (like save and then keep typing), Moodle times you out.

When we started working with 2nd & 3rd graders, we had some very upset kids who worked for 30+ minutes typing (agonizingly slowly, I'll bet, but we're distance ed & don't see our students) only to have it all disappear when they finally hit "Post to forum" or "save changes" because they had already been timed out.
 
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Picture of barbara beckmeyer
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 
That method sometimes alters my formatting that is why I take the extra step.
 
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Picture of Danniett Howard
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

I understand the steps involved, so I will try this and see it it works. I'll let you know.

Thanks,

Danniett

 
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Picture of Danniett Howard
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

I appreciate the response, but I don't understand exactly what you mean. What is the "Toggle HTML Source"? My students are submitting an online text assignment. Many of them type the assignment in Word, and then they copy and paste the assignment in Moodle. When I go to correct the assignments submitted some of the assignments have a whole load of formatting script added to the top. So, once this happens, I was trying to figure out how to instruct the students so they could fix the problem.

Danniett

 
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Kate & fiddle
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 
Wow, lots of clever ideas in this thread! Now I know what the Clean HTML is supposed to do. I didn't even try it before, not trusting something by that name with my code!

If I were a student, I would prefer writing the assignment in Word (or something like it) and then copying and pasting too. I'm always afraid I'll lose work when typing directly, since something could go wrong with the connection in the middle of an irretrievable moment of brilliance :- )

The toggle button is the one in the upper right corner with pointy brackets. (I think if I type the symbols here they will disappear because those brackets mean that what is inside is code.) I would be very frustrated without that button! I find that the Moodle editor often doesn't do exactly what I want it to, so I have to fix it by adjusting the code. You don't really have to know a whole lot of HTML to make it worthwhile using the toggle, although I suppose it could be intimidating to somebody who hasn't played around with it before.

- Kate D.
 
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Picture of Glenys Hanson
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

Hi Kate,

The solution to the fear of losing your work while typing in an HTML editor is to use Firefox  and the Lazarus Form Recovery. "Never lose anything you type into a web form again! Lazarus securely auto-saves all forms as you type, so after a crash, server timeout, or whatever, you can go back to the form, right click, "recover form", and breathe a sigh of relief."

Cheers,

Glenys

 
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Picture of Randy Orwin
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

You beat me to it Glenys smile I will echo Glenys' ideas about Firefox and Lazarus. I don't even bother with putting stuff in a word processor any more and just do the formatting in the editor. Tiny MCE is a huge step forward in 2.0 and actually does a great job of cleaning Word html!

 
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Picture of Russ Hunt
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

I see no such "toggle HTML source" icon.  What am I missing?

I do, however, now see two incomprehensible icons in the bar on this Forum (ones that do not appear on the bar my students get; they don't get the "toggle" one, either). One is identified with a T and the other a W, and when I click the W I get "Paste from Word / Use CTRL+V on your keyboard to paste the text into the window." (The T gives me nothing -- clicking it has no effect. Is this a bug? To whom would I report it?)

More immediately, I think the W icon is pretty unhelpful, since I can't tell whether it's telling me how to paste ("Use CTRL+V" -- as opposed to Edit/Paste, which is what 99% of my students know) or giving me a special way to paste "from Word." And it's not clear why I need such a special way, because, right now, in this forum, pasting from Word is exactly the same whether I paste it directly into the text or use the W icon.

 

 

 
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Picture of Glenys Hanson
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

Hi Russ,

There are two issues:

  1. Why there's a problem copying and pasting from Word.
  2. Two different ways of dealing with it in Moodle 1.9 and in Moodle 2.

First issue: originally Word was a way of giving instructions to a printer, not to displaying text on the Internet. This means if you copy and paste text from Word into an Internet text editor you risk importing and displaying a lot of "garbage" code.

Second issue: Moodle 1.9 (and earlier) uses the text editor HTML area. It has an icon which does clean up things to some extent:

But if you want complicated formatting, it's better to do it directly in the HTML editor.

In Moodle 2.0 there is a different editor: TinyMCE and a similar function is found under the Paste from Word (W) icon. I'm not so sure how that works and a quick Google search indicates it's probably still better to do formatting directly in the editor.TinyMCE includes a spell checker, by the way, which HTMLarea doesn't.

If you have very simple text, you can copy and past from Word: it's only fancy stuff that causes problems: numbered lists, inserted images, tables...

Cheers,

Glenys

 
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Ben talking on the phone beside a monitor
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

Just a note that the html toggle button in Moodle 1.9 and lower looks like < >.

To enter special characters in html, such as less than and greater than, click the html button so you are in html view and enter what is known as the "html entity," which you can look up by Googling "html special characters."

Hi Russ.

 
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Picture of Russ Hunt
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

Ben -- Again, thanks.  But . . .

I'm not sure what the toggle button does, though I'm going to go find out now . . . but I need to say that part of the reason I'm so interested in this issue right now is that it seems to me that the interface here leaves lots of things like that to be figured out, which would be okay if we were talking among folks who were pretty comfortable with various editing situations (though the fact that I go back to WordStar and PCWrite, and have used pretty well every mainstream WP program since, doesn't seem to be helping me a lot). I would have expected that Moodle, designed for educational contexts, would have anticipated that your average undergraduate, however sophisticated she might be with Facebook or Twitter or texting, will probably not recognize <> as an HTML toggle (especially since she doesn't know what HTML is).

I'm grateful for the quick, thoughtful assistance I'm getting here, and I realize my frustration with the interface is being posted in the wrong place, and to the wrong people. But I don't know where the right place to put it is.

 
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Picture of Martin V
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

Russ, this discussion is long over, so there's little point to my two cents - except that you struck a chord with your insistence - in vain - that all the nifty tricks and special features to cope with technical challenges are obstacles, no matter whether they work. As you say, the point of using Moodle is to improve learning in any given subject, not to train computer geeks. (And I, as one who provides this system to our institution, find that this is as important to the lecturers as to the students.)

To achieve that, Moodle needs to become practically invisible, its operation 'intuitive', if you'll excuse the cliché. Facebook's runaway success is, I'm sure, due to it being simple enough to operate that people focus on what they're doing rather than how. That is extremely difficult to achieve, I'm sure, and takes a special kind of insight, not just technical wizardry.

The support by forum participants is generous and very helpful - for those determined to bend the technology to their will. But as long as one needs to use all sorts of special procedures to deal with writing in a dinky little editor pane with cryptic icons and session timeouts (surely it ought to be possible to use AJAX to keep them alive) that lay waste to efforts at thoughtful and careful writing, Moodle will remain only a management system and not a learning environment.

PS: Guess what? I had to spend more time wrestling with this editor's refusal to allow pasting by my browser (Opera), than I did writing this. Fortunately I can use HTML code, and without it couldn't have posted this - but it's a waste of my time and beside the point. I almost wish I hadn't bothered. Students certainly wouldn't have - rather skip the learning than deal with such frustration. Can't say I blame them.

 
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Picture of Russ Hunt
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

Glenys -- Thanks. I understand there's a problem copying from Word, but I don't think it's exactly what everybody's talking about, because it's happened pretty rarely to my students, and I can't make it happen at all.  I understand what it is that's getting copied to the display screen in the editor, but I don't see why it happens sometimes and not others, and I don't understand why, when you click on "edit," the problem disappears (that's been the experience: the sudent sees the problem, tries to edit the posting to delete the garbage, and finds it gone already. But, of course, back when she's not in edit mode.

Also, that icon, which might solve the problem, is, like most of the icons, one whose function is pretty much impossible to recognize (COIK). Passing the cursor over them doesn't tell you anything (no popup labels), and unless you know how to get to the help menu and how to find the issue, you're not likely to see that icon with the Word icon in it as your salvation. At least I certainly never noticed it (nor the <> one).

 
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Picture of Randy Orwin
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

Hello Russ,

If your browser is working correctly you should see tool tips for every icon in the editor as shown in the pic below.

 
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Picture of Russ Hunt
Browser was the issue
 

Well, this is clearly my problem, not Moodle's . . . I use SeaMonkey as a default browser, and it's clearly not supported, because the tool tips popups work for Firefox, Chrome, and IE, but not for SeaMonkey.

Thanks for attending to this, Randy, and sorry to everybody for taking up time with an issue that's a problem of my own making . . .

 
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Ben talking on the phone beside a monitor
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

Russ,

I totally missed your comment about it doesn't happen always. Actually, it depends on which browser you are using. I'm now using FF and IE8, but when I had IE7, if memory serves right, I could see the XML markup in IE7, but Word cleanup wouldn't clean it up. I could not see the XML markup in FF, but the Word clean up would clean it up. Something like that.

Not a solution. Just an explanation. Wait till your guys start using IE8, a total piece of spit.

 
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Picture of Russ Hunt
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

Ben --

Sigh.  This sounds like exactly the location of the problem, and it turns out to be yet another example of exactly the cause of half of the frustrations I've had trying to mediate between students and the Internet. Micro$oft scores again . . .

Thanks . . .  I guess.

 
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Ben talking on the phone beside a monitor
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

Well, and just to make matters worse, I tested just now in 1.9.4 using FF3.6+. Pasted into the "bad" html editor. Toggled html, saw all the xml markup, hit save, the xml did not appear. In fact, it was wiped out by some Moodle magic. When I toggle back to html, the XML is gone.

Tried the same thing in IE 8 both native and compatability mode and could not get the XML markup to paste at all.

So, in other words, I can't replicate the problem anymore sad

And, just to totally make the day dismal (even with sun & 60+ degrees), here's a discussion of this subject from 2008. Note that html purifier might be an option if your site doesn't use embed tags. http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=107186

 
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Picture of Russ Hunt
Re: Problems copying and pasting in the Moodle html
 

Well, it was gorgeous here today, too, and I refuse to let this depress me. But I do have to say that the 2008 discussion (which I just skimmed through) sounded awfully, um, familiar. And so does your attempt to replicate the problem.

Sounds to me like the three or so occasions when this has happened this fall have been simply cases when the verion of Word, the particular version of a particular browser, and the version of Moodle all combined to whack my students up side the head.

No surprise, I guess, but the more this technology develops the more it's like medicine and the less like auto mechanics.

 

 
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