I posted this question in the Journal activity sub-forum, but didn't get any responses. I'm giving it a try here in the teaching forum:
I'm trying to find the best way in Moodle I can do the following:
- For each of the assigned readings (perhaps more than 25 in a semester) ask students to submit a reflective writing assignment.
- Deadline is something like three hours before my course, and I will use their contributions to prepare mini-lectures.
- Grading is simple (if they submit something reasonable, they get full credit). I only take marks off if they submit reading summaries (paraphrasing the content of what was read, not personal, not reflective).
- For the purpose of my mini-lecture preparation, I want to annotate their submissions, e.g., with comments on passages such as one can do in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Adobe Acrobat, etc. I don't want to do this on hard copy in 2015/2016.
- I'd like to be able to generate a word cloud using the content.
- I could have up to 40 students in two sections (80 students total) and I don't have a secretary to help me click!
Looking at the Journal activity in Moodle, I think it comes up short on the annotation feature (at least based on the documentation I looked at, there seems to only be a form field for instructor feedback and a grade).
I'm thinking of going with Assignments (there's bulk download of Word/PDF/etc.) documents although a Word cloud wouldn't be possible (that's not a show stopper).
I'd appreciate feedback from the Moodle community regarding this approach. Thanks!
This semester I am using the approach in a graduate course with 12 students. Here is how I do it in Moodle -- it's not perfect, but maybe you have some more ideas:
- Set up online-text assignment for each reflective writing.
- The reflective writing directives I followed state one shouldn't even use backspace or correct any typos (it's supposed to be totally free thought). For this reason, I didn't think PDF would be a good way to go. The online-text capture is ideal.
- Because of typos and the nature of free-form writing, I abandoned the word-cloud idea. I'm not sure it adds pedagogical value and would be too much work to filter out the noise.
- I annotate the writings using the feedback form in the assignment grading. Annotations are in a new paragraph (just after the part I'm annotating) using the Pre-formatted style so it looks different. It would be nice if there was a "Feedback" paragraph style that had a different color (or styles that had some semantic meaning in a grading context). Can these be customized/enabled?
- As for grading, it's simple. I give either full credit or a 0 if someone does just a summary of the text (with no personal reflection such as relationship to material seen in other courses or real-world experience). After the first week (and a few 0s), everyone got the idea.
- Each student gets an annotated feedback, and I copy/paste the interesting annotations (anonymously) in a "summary" forum entry.
Annotating can take a long time if I'm not disciplined. The trap is to respond to interesting thoughts that get outside the scope of the reading/course and that are not wrong interpretations or misconceptions that need correcting. Many assignments get full credit with no feedback, which seems insincere (although some students admitted they don't read my feedback anyway).
Right now I don't think this will scale to 40 students/course, although I must say it's a great way to get to know my students quickly.
You can try the Dataform module. Students can submit an entry with online text for each lecture. The simplest way would probably be to use a designated instance for each lecture and you can set a due time for that instance after which the students can no longer submit. For annotation you can edit the student's submissions and add your comments inline or use a comment field to add external comments. We employ both approaches in courses, depending on the instructor's preference. For grading you can use a rating field (ajaxed) or select field (entry editing mode). If you have the pdf view add-on you can export a view to pdf. Otherwise you could probably save the view page and import into Word or pdf (worth experimenting). See below an illustration of one of the annotating approaches that is used in one of the courses this term. hth
Thanks for the idea. I found Dataform at https://moodle.org/plugins/view/mod_dataform
I'm not sure I want students to see/rate each other's submissions. Reflective writings are personal and I think the goal is that students express freely knowing there is trust between the instructor and the student. If peers see/judge each other's writings, the dynamic returns to that of the student being afraid to pose a "stupid question" in class.
If I'm not using peer ratings, I'm trying to understand the advantage of your plug-in compared to the solution proposed using basic assignments.
Your screen shot above is useful to see how it looks when used, but what are all the settings I have to use to get there? Can you share the configuration options (in edited settings) of Dataform for this use-case? Or even export (backup) one without the student input? That would be very useful.
Finally, how many activities in Moodle would this be? One activity (E-Portfolio in your example?) for the entire set of assignments could be great, if configuring "designated instances" (Analysis Feedback 1?) doesn't take too many clicks.
One of the most time-consuming and tedious tasks for an instructor is to reset all the timings (due dates) for activities in Moodle at the start of a new semester. How is this done in your plug-in? I could have as many as 20 such timings to configure for a semester.
One of the most time-consuming and tedious tasks for an instructor is to reset all the timings (due dates) for activities in Moodle at the start of a new semester.
Use the Dates report: https://moodle.org/plugins/view/report_editdates
Use the Dates report: https://moodle.org/plugins/view/report_editdates
We already do, and it's definitely helpful. At the risk of going off topic, I'll go into gory details.
The Dates plug-in doesn't solve the pain of the Date-Time interface that requires many, many clicks, compared to something like how date-times are specified in Google Calendar.
For example, the Close date isn't automatically updated to be after the open date in the GUI (which would be a huge help). Every element of a date/time is in a drop-down menu, which is one click to get into and one to get out of. That's 10 clicks for the open date, 10 clicks for the close date, or 20 clicks for one quiz. It's true it might take fewer clicks by using the calendar pop-up, but it could be more when the dates are off by several months or more than a year.
Dates plugin interface:
Google calendar-like interface (clicking on the date field pops up a calendar, but you can use copy/paste in the text fields). I already wrote about this in the bug tracker.
The main advantage of the Dataform is that you can set up any assignment in any layout you wish. The trade-off is that complex assignment will require complex setup. But then again, fixed modules such as the assignment can typically only do the standard stuff. So, if what you need is standard you definitely want to use a standard module. If what you need is less to non standard, the Dataform may be able to allow you to do it.
There are quite a few settings, not all are documented. How-tos, tips, tricks and presets can be found in the Dataform forum.
How many instances for a particular activity depends on what you are trying to achieve.
Indeed adjusting times is an issue. It works in the Dataform the same way as in Moodle. But I've been planning to enhance that in certain areas, by allowing to enter time as a string.
Setting up a complex activity is a complex and time consuming task. It's inevitable. If you will limit the activities in your environment to such that can be set up by any instructor, you are likely to have only standard oversimplified activities. It's not that instructors are not capable. They just don't have the time to do something that should be done by specialists anyway.