Tagtip of the week

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: Make Everything More Accessible with SensusAccess

Tip of the Week Keeping up with reading is a critical part of college success, and so making sure course materials are available in a variety of accessible formats is important. For example, some faculty and students with low vision use screen readers to navigate the web and read documents. Others need documents in Braille. Anyone can require accommodations at different points–for example, students with concussion often can’t look at a screen, but need to be able to keep up with coursework.

To respond to this need, Trinity has subscribed to a software service called SensusAccess, which converts files from less accessible formats into more accessible ones. To take only the handiest example: SensusAccess can take a PDF document, even a basic one made by a copy machine, and turn it into an MP3, an e-book, a plain text file, or even just a PDF with semantic tags that allow a screen reader to better describe the content. It can also take a batch of text and give you an accessible version, or convert a web page.

SensusAccess is available to anyone with a Trinity email address. Just go to the main SensusAccess page, identify the kind of material you want to convert, and follow the on-screen instructions. After you’re done, you’ll get an email indicating the file is ready. One of the great things about the service is that it’s self-contained, so anyone can request a file be converted at any time–there’s no need to wait for business hours.

If you have any questions about working with SensusAccess, please don’t hesitate to contact anyone in Educational Technology!

TOW: Get organized with Evernote

Tip of the WeekEvernote is a free productivity tool that allows you to gather all of those scraps of paper, to-do lists, Web clippings, notes, etc. and put them in one, searchable online notebook. Notes can be organized by tags, and are stored on the Web, so they will sync between all your devices.

You can easily share your notes with others: students, faculty, colleagues at other institutions, and invite them to collaborate on documents if you wish.

Potential uses:

  • Collect research notes as you discover articles or Web sites. Evernote will let you take a snapshot of the Web site, file it in a particular notebook, and make a comment for your future reference.
  • Store ideas and reminders related to your courses.
  • Take notes during meetings. You can even take a photo of an item and upload it to Evernote directly.
  • Develop collaborative documents with colleagues from other institutions.
  • Make vacation plans!

Here are some other ideas for using Evernote academically, from Raul Pacheco-Vega.

Proceed to Evernote.com to get started.

TOW: Never lose a password again!

Tip of the WeekWe all have a dizzying array of passwords for the Web-based tools we use: Amazon, the bank, your Twitter account, email, your newspaper subscriptions, it’s endless. The passwords we use are the keys to valuable information in our lives, yet too often we fall into bad habits like storing passwords on post-its, or recycling the same password for multiple sites.

Fortunately, several companies provide an easy solution to this problem. Password managers keep track of all of your accounts and automatically fill in your credentials when you need to login to a Web site, so that you don’t have to go hunting for that post-it note or rely on your memory! Even better, they typically sync across multiple devices, so whether you are using your office computer, or your smart phone, you can login to your accounts from anywhere.

Getting started is relatively easy and inexpensive. Password managers often allow basic use for free, but charge a fee for more features.  Dashlane and LastPass are among the industry leaders and will automatically import and capture passwords for you.

Give password managers a try and simplify your life!


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!

Using Spotify to create course listening assignments

Tip of the Week

For those looking to incorporate a music component into classes, Spotify offers a massive library of licensed streaming music that can be easily organized into playlists and shared with students. And, the mobile portability and familiarity of Spotify means students may be more likely to complete listening assignments!

You and your students can access Spotify either through a Web browser, or via software downloaded to your desktop or mobile device. There is little difference between these two modes of listening, except that the downloaded software allows you to reorder songs in a playlist.

To get started using the browser version, go to play.spotify.com and set up an account. Spotify offers both a free and a paid subscription to its service:  the free version is ad-supported, and the paid offers unlimited ad-free listening at a modest price for students.

Once logged in, use the search button on the left side of the window to find desired songs. You can choose to display results by album, artist, or song title.

To add a song to a playlist, click the ellipses (see screen shot below), then choose “Add to” then “New Playlist” and enter a name for you list.

Click ellipses to add a song to a playlist

When you’re finished adding to your playlist, choose “Your music” from the left side of the screen. Select the playlist, click the ellipses, and then “Copy Spotify URL” as shown below. 

Share the playlist

You can then paste that URL into your Moodle site, or send it along to your students. Many students already have a Spotify account and will have no trouble opening the playlist. Those who do not have an account yet will prompted to create one when they open the URL.

Hopefully Spotify playlists will make an appearance in your next syllabus!

How to Access Office365/OneDrive and Why You Might Want To

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week is a series wherein a member of the educational technology group describes a resource that’s available to the Trinity community, how to use it, and why.

Trinity College has a campus agreement with Microsoft, which allows anyone on campus (faculty, students, staff) to do two things: first, you can download and install Microsoft Office on up to 5 computers you control. And second, you can access Office365, Microsoft’s cloud-based version of Microsoft Office, as well as OneDrive, which gives you one terabyte of storage. You can find instructions for downloading Office and for accessing OneDrive on the Information Services website; in this post, I want to briefly explain why you might want to take advantage of OneDrive and Office365.

The two biggest reasons to take advantage of Office365 are the one terabyte of cloud-based storage it gives you, as well as the ability to access all the smartphone/tablet versions of Office. A third reason is that you can access, edit, and share your files from any device with a web browser and an internet connection.

Accessing Office365/OneDrive For the First Time

Go to portal.office.com, and enter your username@trincoll.edu:

screenshot of portal.office.com

(Obviously, use your own username!) The password field is greyed out, which is fine: just hit “tab” or “enter/return”. The branding will change, and it’ll look like this:

screenshot of portal.office.com

Now you can enter your password. Do so, click “sign in,” and you’ll be brought to this screen:

screenshot of Microsoft OneDrive in a web browser

I’ve pixelated my files to avoid distractions; you shouldn’t have any files listed yet. To add files to OneDrive, you can click the upload button in the middle of the top menu, or you can just drag-and-drop files from your desktop.

Also, note the two orange arrows. The one on the top left points to the Office365 apps: Browser-based versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and more. That menu looks like this:

screenshot of O365 apps

We’ll revisit these apps in another week. (My basic take is that they are better at formatting and other specialized features than, for example, Google Docs, but they are less good at real-time collaboration. Although they’re not terrible at it! They might be particularly useful if you frequently prepare documents or slideshows on one platform, but view them on another. If you make the file in Office 365, they will look the same everywhere.)

You could use OneDrive like this, and it will work reasonably well. However, the power of OneDrive comes into focus if you click the link marked out on the bottom left: “Get the OneDrive Apps.” You’ll see a screen like this:

OneDrive downloads screenshots

Your browser will autodetect what kind of device you’re accessing the site from, and it will suggest the correct one–in this case, it’s the Mac version. Click “Download” and follow the rest of the instructions, and you’ll see a brand-new folder appear in your directory:

screenshot of OneDrive as a folder

(On a Mac, it’ll say “OneDriveBusiness”; I believe on a PC it’ll just say OneDrive. Microsoft’s internal branding issues are beside the point.)

This folder looks like any other folder, but in fact anything stored within it automatically syncs to Microsoft’s cloud servers, and is available on any machine if you log in to OneDrive. Also, if you have OneDrive installed on more than one device (for example, your office computer, your home computer, and a smartphone or tablet), these folders will always be in sync. (If you’ve used Dropbox or Google Drive, it’s pretty similar.)

If you are uploading many files at once, or bigger files, uploading them via the folder is the safest way to do it.

Important note: Files shared with you via OneDrive will not automatically be synced to your computer. Everything else will be. This is a bit annoying, but there it is.

We will have more on working with OneDrive in future weeks; in the interval, you can learn more by checking out Lynda.com’s series of videos on “Up and Running with OneDrive” (Details for accessing Lynda.com are available here: http://www.trincoll.edu/LITC/its/Pages/Lynda.asp.)

Accessing Office365/OneDrive from a Smartphone or Tablet

One of the real benefits of knowing how to access Office365 is that you are then able to use the Microsoft Office apps for smartphones and tablets (iOS, Android, or Windows). They have a pretty decent range of features for writing and commenting–for example, I have copyedited a colleague’s book chapter on an iPad with Word, using track changes and comments.

For whichever smartphone or tablet ecosystem you have, go to its app store and find the Microsoft apps. (Alternatively, you can access the portal.office.com page from your web browser, and click on the “Get OneDrive Apps” as described above.)  Download and install the (free) apps, and then log in using the username@trincoll.edu method from above. Everything will sync up, and you should be all set!

(The mobile apps will even let you edit documents that are shared with you, as long the document was *specifically* shared with you–that is, it’s not something you just accessed via a link.)

In a future post, we’ll look more closely at working with files from the mobile apps.

Educational Technology can help you work out workflows for integrating Office365 or OneDrive into your classroom, but the Help Desk (x2100) is the place to get help with set up and configuration.

Introducing a new series: the Educational Technology Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week

This is just a quick note to say that we’re rolling out a new feature of the Educational Technology blog: a tip of the week post, scheduled for Monday mornings, that will spotlight a resource that’s either available to the Trinity community or that’s freely available. Many of these will be tied to the academic calendar, but others will be “timeless.”

The first in the series, up later this morning, will be a look at Office365 and OneDrive, which aim to help people collaborate and share documents safely and easily.

Thanks to Sue Denning for the neat graphic, and Amy Harrell for wrangling the schedule. Posts will be by everyone in our group.