The first countdown calendar we made was an Advent calendar using an old version of Moodle, 1.9, and was a complex setup with what are now called orphaned activities. I had to get up early each day of the Christmas holidays to manually open up each door and reveal video messages from students, teachers and parents.
For the last two years, it's been possible to restrict access to topic sections by date, meaning your doors or windows will open automatically. This lends itself beautifully to the creativity of home made Moodle countdown calendars: 4 weeks to the exams? Have students (or teachers) record revision tips and set them to display, one each day, behind the cool-looking door which won your "Design a cool-looking door for our exam countdown calendar” competition. Of course the doors could open to text, images or sound files too, anything to get a number of people involved in the building of it. And your calendar can lead you on to any special day, not just my Christmas example.
This recipe for an online Moodle Advent calendar uses the contributed Grid course format. (You don't need this but it makes displaying and opening the doors so much easier. Instructions at the end for a standard course format)
- Grid course format
- 24 sections (or the number of days leading up to your event)
- the same number of doors/windows as image files to click on
- the same number of videos/text/images or other content to be revealed behind the doors
- In the course settings, select the Grid format
- When prompted, upload the relevant numbered doors to the numbered sections
- With the editing turned on, rename each section to its date - eg December 1st
- In the section summary itself, add the content (eg a video)
- In the Restrict access section of the section summary, set the section to be visible on that particular date.
- (Optional) Remove all blocks on your course page for a cleaner look. If the calendar is to be open to the public, then click the configure icon of the Navigation and Administration blocks, scroll down to Permissions and prevent guests from seeing the blocks. You should then just have a page with doors (hopefully much cooler than my plain stable door examples )
- Impatient Moodlers clicking a door in advance of time will get a message as below - and they click the X top right to close it down again:
- When the day comes, clicking the door will reveal the embedded content very simply:
Not able to use the Grid course format? You can replicate it with orphaned activities but it is irksome:
- Set your course to topics format with one section only (section 0 and section 1)
- Add your video or other content to Moodle pages in Section 1, restricting the access to the date of each page.
- Get the URLs of each page, making a note of their date.
- (The irksome part) In section 0 of your course, add all your door images.
- Hyperlink each door image to the URL of the page which has its content.
- Go to your course and at the bottom right of Section 1, click the X to remove the section from view.
- It will appear "orphaned" to you in teacher mode, but to guests or students, only the images at the top will be visible. Clicking in advance will display a message that the activity is hidden, and clicking on the allocated day will reveal it.