ToW: New Assignment Feedback and Annotation Tool

Tip of the Week

Over the summer Moodle was upgraded to the latest release which includes a few new features. One of the more useful features is the addition of a reviewing panel  for giving feedback on assignments. When you grade an assignment that was submitted as a Word doc, PDF, or the online text option you will have the ability to add feedback and annotate the document right in the grading interface – no need to open or download the files first. You can add text notes, highlighting, or draw shapes on the document. This can be much faster than downloading Word files to add comments then re loading them to give the students feedback.

If you give feedback on assignments submitted in Moodle this tool should be a great time saver for you. More information on this feature can be found in the Moodle documentation at https://docs.moodle.org/33/en/Using_Assignment#Annotating_submissions.



ToW: Add course materials to Moodle from the new Library OneSearch

Tip of the WeekThe Library’s new OneSearch offers fast and easy access to library books, articles, films, audio, and more. Many of these materials are available online so that your students can access them directly from any of their devices. 

With OneSearch, it’s easy to build course reading and play lists by grabbing the permanent URL for items you find and pasting them into Moodle. 


To get started, go to the Library home page and enter your search term(s) in the OneSearch box: 


On the results page, you will want to sign in to be sure you are seeing all of your options. Also note the various ways you can filter your results on the left side of the page: by Library, article type, material type (video, audio, book, article), etc. 


When you click on the title of an item, you’ll see additional details. Click the Permalink button to reveal the permanent URL, and then “Copy the permalink to clipboard,” which will allow you to paste the link into your Moodle course. 


TOW: Using Moodle Scheduler to set up student appointments

Tip of the Week

If your class uses Moodle regularly, the Scheduler plugin is very useful for setting up appointments with students in your class, either individually or in groups. (Outside of Moodle, a handy way to schedule appointments is with the WASS scheduler.)

Start by turning on editing in Moodle, and then click on ‘Add an activity or resource.’ In the box under Activities, choose Scheduler and click ‘Add.’ SchedulerIcon

A new page will appear called ‘Adding a new Scheduler’ where you enter in a name (required). This page contains numerous options for setting up the appointments, including limiting how many times a student can make an appointment, whether there will be a grade assigned, and if appointments can be made by groups. Note that if you decide to use groups, the group assignments will need to be defined under Course Administration, and this plugin requires that the teacher or teaching assistant be a member of each group. Once you have finished with the settings, click on ‘Save and display’ located at the bottom of the page.

SchedulerAddSlots2To set up the times for the appointments, click on ‘Add slots.’ Under the drop-down, you can choose to add a single slot or repeated slots. The repeated slots option is recommended for setting up blocks of time where students can make appointments. Choose the appropriate days of the week, start and end times of the appointment block, and then the duration of the appointment (typically 15 or 30 minutes.) You can also activate a setting where an automatic email reminder will be sent to the student before the appointment. Once you have created the appointments, then click on ‘Save changes’ at the bottom of the page.

Students will see a listing of the available times (as shown below), where they use the “Book slot’ button to make an appointment. Additional time slots can be added by the instructor at any time, and statistics summarizing the appointments can be easily viewed and exported. (It is worth mentioning, however, that the Scheduler does not sync with calendar software, such as Outlook or Google Calendar.)


If you have any questions about using the Scheduler in Moodle, please contact your Instructional Technologist.


TOW: Two important default settings for Moodle Gradebook

Tip of the Week

As we approach the start of the semester, now is the time to set up your gradebook in Moodle. The Moodle Gradebook has many different options for setting up a gradebook, including the use of weighted categories or total points. You can use a Moodle assignment to collect and grade assignments within Moodle, or you can just create a gradebook item and enter in the grades by hand. It allows students to track their progress throughout the semester, and faculty can give personalized feedback to each student on assignments and scores.

We want to highlight here two default settings for the Gradebook that are set when the courses are created. The first controls the visibility of the Gradebook for the students, and the default option will be for the gradebook to be visible. If you plan on using Moodle for a course, but do not want the students to see the Gradebook, then you will need to change this setting. Go to Course Administration in the left navigation bar, and click on “Edit settings.” In the Edit Course Settings page, expand the Appearance block. To hide the Gradebook, change the drop-down from Yes to No for “Show gradebook to students” as shown in the figure below, and then click “Save and display.”


The second default Gradebook setting worth mentioning controls how course and category total grades are calculated. Many faculty prefer to have students view a running average for their class grade over the semester, rather than showing a grade based upon the total number of assignments. Moodle uses the function “Exclude Empty Grades” to give up-to-date running totals for the students’ grades. This is a category setting only, so it is relevant to category-based grading schemes where it adjusts calculations for the full course level category score and any sub-category score (i.e. Quizzes, Homework, etc.). This is not a setting controlled at the grade item level. It is important to point out that when the ‘Exclude empty grades’ option is activated, the calculations just ignore grades that have yet not been entered – if a zero is entered as a grade for any assignment or grade item, this does count towards the student’s score.

By default, the Gradebook will be set to display running averages. Use the following instructions if you want to change this setting so that grades are calculated using all the assignments. Select “Gradebook setup” in the left navigation bar of your course, and then click “Edit Settings” under the Actions column for the category (as seen for the Tutorials category in the image below). You will then see an Edit Category screen. GradebookEditSettings

ExcludeEmptyGradesIn the Grade category box, click “Show more,” click on the ‘Exclude empty grades’ box so that it is not checked, and then click on “Save changes.” This will then include every grade item in the course total and category total grade calculations.

For any questions about the Moodle gradebook, don’t hesitate to contact your Instructional Technologist.

TOW: Adding library articles to your Moodle course

Tip of the Week

Trinity’s Library provides access to a rich collection of online journal articles and other materials you may want to assign to your students. Most of the databases in which these articles are found provide a handy URL that you can easily plug into your Moodle course. This method of providing course readings can eliminate the hassle of uploading pdf files, and it also leads students directly to the journal database where they can browse further.

The terms databases commonly use are Stable URL, Permanent URL, or Permalink. The example below is taken from an article record in JSTOR, which uses the first term.  Just copy the URL link, and add it to your Moodle course (Go to “Add and Activity or Resource,” then select “URL” at the very bottom). Now your students will be able to access the article directly in JSTOR.


Many of the library subscription databases come from the vendor Ebsco, and therefore share the same user interface. The second example is taken from the Ebsco database Wilson Omnifile. In the record view, look for the right-hand menu of options where “Permalink” is listed.


Trinity’s Research librarians are very familiar with our database interfaces and collections. Please feel free to contact them for any assistance with our research collections.

TOW: New Features in Moodle


Tip of the Week

As is usually the case, we’ve updated Moodle over the summer, and are now offering Moodle 3.0. In addition to a variety of behind-the-scenes updates, there are a few new features that may be relevant to your fall courses:

  • There are four new question types for quizzes, two involving text, and two involving images. The text types are: select missing word (multiple-choice fill-in-the-blank) and drag-and-drop into text (same, but with a drag-and-drop interface rather than selecting from a list). The image types are: drag-and-drop onto an image, which lets students drag text or small images onto larger images, and drag-and-drop markers, which lets students add text markers to predefined locations.
  • If you use the Workshops feature, showcased during SITT, it now lets you see at-a-glance who has/has not participated.
  • You can optionally set your course to display the dates you uploaded files or other resources, which may help students focus on new material.
  • There are also some simplifications to the course editing process.
  • The text editor features improved handling of tables.

If you’d prefer these features recapped in an Australian-accented jaunty video, well, that’s also available:

As always, if you have questions about anything involving Moodle, please get in touch with your instructional technologist!

Copying a Moodle course from a previous semester

Tip of the Week

If you’re at all like me, you’ve looked at the calendar, and realized that it’s August 8th! That’s right – fall classes start in just a few weeks. Fortunately, there is one task that is easy to get out of the way, and thanks to this summer’s Moodle upgrade, you can copy your Moodle course from a previous semester to this fall’s course instance with just a few clicks.

Keep in mind, this process will take a few minutes, depending on the amount of content you have in the course you are copying. It will probably take less time if you do this while on campus (since you will be on the same network as the Moodle server).

01_Import_CourseHere’s how to copy your course:

  1. Go to the Fall 16 instance of your course, and find the Administration box. It’s usually in the left-hand column, but that might be different if you have customized your Moodle layout. Click the Import link. The administration box looks like the image on the right.
  2. On the next screen, you’ll be asked to select the course to copy content from. Chances are, you have more courses in Moodle than can fit in this small window, so you will need to refine the display by entering a key term to identify the course. You can use the course number, or a keyword to refine the results. Enter the terms, then click Search.
  3. When you’ve found the course you are copying from, select the radio button next to that course title and click Continue02_Import_Course
  4. On the next screen, you most likely want to click the Jump to final step button. This will copy everything from the course you selected in Step 3 except for the participant list. (If you want to copy only some of the content from the course, you can click the Next button, and that will give you the option to select specific files from the previous course instance – but you can always copy the entire course and delete what you don’t want to use this fall.)
  5. When the import is done, you’ll get a green confirmation box, and click the Continue button. Your course should look exactly like the previous semester’s course.

If you run into issues, the STA Program is your first stop for getting help. If they encounter issues as well, they can help escalate to your Instructional Technologist with more accurate troubleshooting information.

Hopefully, copying your Moodle course content with just a few clicks relieves some of the semester start-up stress!