Comparisons and advocacy

There should be one more context between course and activities

 
Picture of Chen ZhongWei
There should be one more context between course and activities
 

Hi, 

   We've employed moodle  several years in our college of computer and science. And now it's being expanded to all colleges of our university. A big problem is how to deal with classes of different semesters in the same course. How to assign distinct activities and get properly grading report for each class?

   Although moodle groups, cohorts, categories and meta-link all together give ways to some  aspects of the problem, I think there should be another layer upon activities. Such a new layer may be  the enrollment instance which can be  customized by the teacher for different classes. It is one more context between the course and activities.  Then teacher can assign activities and grade them in an very simple way, so simple is for the students from diffrent classes even several years ago.   

   Is it possible?  

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: There should be one more context between course and activities
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Chen, I am not real sure of what you are getting at here. My former college treated courses that roll over through different semesters as meta courses, which completely separated  users into their semester context. This was a simple solution then, and they still use it. 

Could you expand a little on what you are getting at please, perhaps make it a little more definite. 

 
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Picture of Chen ZhongWei
回复: Re: There should be one more context between course and activities
 

Hi Colin, thank you. Yes, we use meta-link enrollment too  for rolling courses now. 

But teachers have to keep on several courses (each class has to be one course in moodle) and  switch between the parent-course and child-courses for classes, such switching  interaction  sometimes confused them and the students. 

The most common situation is that shared resources(or activity) be kept in the parent-course and separated activities in different child-courses (i.e, classes).  

What I mean is that something like class management in the course may be another way. Then a simple course has sharing part of resources for all classes, and distinct activities and grading reports for each class. Such an all-in-one solution introduced classes (with same or different semester) into the course context instead of meta-linked enrollments.    

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: 回复: Re: There should be one more context between course and activities
Core developersDocumentation writersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developers

I think a more common way for handling repeats of the same course in a different semester is to make a copy of the Moodle course.

That way you keep an archive of exactly what was used in the first semester, even if you alter the course a bit for the second semester.

The way you make the copy is to backup the course without Moodle data.

Then you restore it as a new course. As part of the restore is an option to move all the dates in the course by a fixed amount, which can help with things like Quiz or Assignment deadlines.

 
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Picture of Chen ZhongWei
回复: Re: 回复: Re: There should be one more context between course and activities
 

Hi Tim, I agree that course copy is useful for teachers. But if several classes are in the same semester, it is less or more inconvienent.  Something like the following diagram may be convienent while students can see only the enrolled semester.


 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: 回复: Re: 回复: Re: There should be one more context between course and activities
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

If I am understanding you correctly, Chen, then what you are thinking of is a course that looks something like this: 

Sharing resources

which is really interesting. Just this morning I entered this to the Moodle Tracker as a possible development, Tracker Item MDL-47535

If this is what you are thinking than it may be that you will need to find an external repository that you can link your courses to. That way you can have many classes, using the same course, or the same course copied as many times as you like, each linked to a common repository sharing common resources, but each with their own variant of class specific resources. 

EDIT: Yes, I can see where this would be a very handy option in Moodle, particularly if you are dealing with students of  different learning abilities and styles.  You could individualise learning to a much greater degree, that is very much in keeping with constructivist pedagogy.  

 
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Picture of Chen ZhongWei
The shared resource and class have equal level of context
 

Yes, Colin. In fact, the shared resources can be treated as Class 0, while other classes as Class 1, 2, ...

This is different from access availability which can not distinct gradings and reports among different groupings.

Thank you.

EDIT: But there may be much more changes and difficulties for moodle developers. The structure of course should be reconstructed. I'll keep tracking your submitted item.

 
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Picture of Chen ZhongWei
回复: The shared resource and class have equal level of context
 
I read Collin's Tracker Item of the shared resources. It is a good idea to share 'Resources' only. 

But sometimes activities such as 'Data','Glossary', and 'Quiz'  also need be shared to classes. 

So it is better to change the parent (or context) of all resources and activities from the course to the class (a new context come from "Enrolment methods" of the course).

Such a new context should have following instances:

Any Enrolments: This means a class with students from any enrolment method of the course, or means a Big Class of all students;

Manual Enrolments:  This means a class with students from Manual enrolments method only;

Self Enrolments:  This means a class with students from a special instance of Self enrolments method only;

Cohort Enrolments: This means a class with students from a special instance of Cohort enrolments method only. 

In such context, a new resources or activity is created for 'Class' instead of directly for 'Course'.   

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: 回复: The shared resource and class have equal level of context
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Chen, that sounds a good idea, but there could be two problems, one is that is would be very difficult to code I expect, but then, the other part would mean that it could open some rather large holes in the essential security of courses. Having said that, I have not done any serious coding for over 10 years, and it has really passed me by. 

I cannot get past a single course for a cohort wide forum, such as these forums are, well I have always thought they are anyway. Small class forums, teacher forums inside courses Moodle is OK, but for something larger, a site wide, single forum in a simple discussion format in its own course is great. There are other forum tools, bbPress or Vanilla seem the most popular these days, but if you are using Moodle, then you don't have to worry about SSOs or other potential security breaches.. 

Glossaries can be site wide, or for use in a single class. I have used them in that way, and the Moodle Glossary of Common Terms is site wide, so a global glossary is OK, but again you got me thinking. Can glossaries be placed in a category context? They should be able to... but I have never tried, so will have to try it now...thoughtful

Common quizzes are always going to be a pain. They are a pain to set up, a pain to administer, even if there are several people working on them collaboratively. But there is no reason why they cannot be set aside in separate courses, specifically for groups of students in connected courses. Access can be scheduled and restricted, quizzes can be made available or turned off according to that schedule.

These things would be part of that common core course we have discussed above, and I have just had another thought.....mmm  let me chase it down... might be a while though. 

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: 回复: The shared resource and class have equal level of context
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

After some investigation, I find that I cannot see an easy way to set up a glossary that related solely to a category. There appears nothing about it in the literature, nor the help files that I have seen. There also appears no plugin that would work at the category level. Admins have the capability to set a glossary as a Global glossary, and Main glossaries are course based, whereas Secondary glossaries can be course based or section based, it seems. 

So my question is, under what circumstances would a category wide glossary be a more appropriate solution than either a section based, course based or site wide global glossary? 

Forums have a similar issue, and should have a similar question asked. 

I suspect there is likely to be a case for creating these tools to be able to be applied by Admins at a category level, and they are likely to be fairly easy to develop. The Admins of those sites that use My Home as a default  setting would have to ensure that students in that category would have access to those forums and glossaries. Interesting thought though... 

There are several AutoEnrolment plugins available. One may suit your particular situation, Chen.

Good luck.

 
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Picture of Dave Perry
Re: 回复: Re: 回复: Re: There should be one more context between course and activities
Particularly helpful MoodlersTesters

On a similar note...

I've done some work with our beauty therapy section to trim their moodle pages down, and where there is duplication (e.g. the same Unit on more than one page), I made a Resources Library page with the unit resources on.

The 'class' pages (e.g. L2 Diploma and L2 Certificate) then link to these units, and I used meta entrolments on the Resource Library page so anyone on those two pages has the same permissions on the 'resources' one. It's quite a tidy way of doing the circles diagram Colin posted.

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: 回复: Re: 回复: Re: There should be one more context between course and activities
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

Thinking about this a little more.. that Shared Resources in the centre of that diagram above could actually be a Shared Class. 

Some classes will share common topics but then diverge into particular specialist topics or more generalist topics. Students in all groups require the basic class, and be assessed in that class, but then shifting into their more specific classes. For example, Maths 1A   could diverge into financial Maths, or Calculus - but there may be reasons for both classes to not just begin with Maths 1A, but come back to it after completing several topics in their specialist program.

In separate courses, this causes an issue with the gradebook. Intead of a single gradebook, there are two, unless the gradebook can be reused in separate courses, or is attached to the student not the course. (I don't know if this is being done, or if it could be done, I am thinking out loud here, without looking first...duh!)  

Perhaps that is an essential design issue for future Moodle, is it content focussed, or should it be student focussed? If student focussed, how could that be done? Could the focus be shared? When a student is initially enrolled, could their personal gradebook be generated and attached to their enrolments?  mmmmm

 
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Picture of Chen ZhongWei
Re: There should be one more context between course and activities
 

Hi Collin. It is really difficult and essential to implement such structure in moodle.

Our situation is as following:

One teacher take a course (for example MATH) in a semester (saying 2014 FALL), while many students  enroll this course. These  students are divided into several classes (MATH 2014 FALL A, B, and C, .etc ). Students in the same class  have similar activities (time, module type, .etc) and should be in one grade-report, while other students in other classes have much different ones. But lots of resources are common for all students. This is the situation of one semester.

When next semester coming,  the common resources are still  kept on and should be updated less or more, while new classes with new activities from the scratch. Rolling over again and again, common resources will get bigger and better with still least occupy  of   space and  cost of course management. ( duplication does cost more )

For now, we use meta-link to enroll different classes into one meta-course for sharing the common resources. But students have to browse a long list of courses they enrolled (double of the original courses), and the teacher may have triple or more number in the courses list. It is confusing and boring sometimes.

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: There should be one more context between course and activities
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

Are there ways of reducing the course enrolment lists? Never worried about it in the past, the enrolment should disappear when the course is reset. In the meta-course situation, I have usually reset the child course, or disassociated the child course from the parent, then this clears up all enrolments, well it has in the past. Grades and assignments etc are still available in the backups, always taken before resetting, 

The common resource courses may get very large indeed, causing a number of problems with backup and restore, or with the PHP upload file size limits, as I am sure you are aware.   

And the problem is always going to be the gradebook.... amd I have no idea how to get around that, unless someone has developed, or is developing, a gradebook that cuts across courses, or follows the User, not the course. 

 
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Picture of Chen ZhongWei
回复: Re: There should be one more context between course and activities
 

I found an interesting plugin (a block) named "Ascendants courses" , together with a couple one of "Descendants courses". These plugins can make a link between the meta-course and its parent in a block.

This make it convenient to switch between meta-linked courses.  

 
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Picture of Robert Brenstein
Re: There should be one more context between course and activities
 
Since the relation between a metacourse and its children is clearly defined, it is plausible to add a feature to Moodle that the gradebook in a child course (optionally) fetches grades from the metacourse to include them with the local grades, so teachers can easily do course-wide grading within Moodle despite having activities spread over two Moodle courses. And vice versa, pulling grades from child courses into the metacourse might be useful in some teaching scenarios. I believe that such a feature would increase the utility of metacourses quite a bit.
 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: There should be one more context between course and activities
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Robert, that is an interesting thought, why not put it into Moodle Tracker as an "suggested improvement". 

 
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Picture of Robert Brenstein
Re: There should be one more context between course and activities
 
I found that there is already a request to pull grades from child courses into meta course: MDL-13670
I added a new request for child courses fetching grades from metacourses: MDL-47938
 
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