Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When you're just starting out with Moodle

These are some basics that will help:
  • Turn Editing On – that makes it possible to add activities, edit/change what you have, move things around.  Sounds obvious, but in the beginning you need to be reminded.
  • See what the course looks like from a student’s point of view.  Click on Switch Role to and click on Student.  Not only will you see the class without all the teacher/course design stuff, that’s when you discover that you forgot to open that new activity or topic. 
  • To open a topic that you may have closed, click on Turn Editing On, then find the eye over on the right (both to the right of the entire topic and to the right of an individual link/activity/resource).  If it’s closed, the topic is closed.  Click on the closed eye and that topic is now open. 
  • And by the way, just because you’ve “opened” a topic, doesn’t mean that all the activities within that topic opened – check them to make sure. 
  • Especially if you are doing something for the first time, add some test students (write down the user ids and passwords somewhere because these are easy to forget).  Login as the test student(s).  See how things work.  While you can see the basic course by switching to the student role, this won’t show you what actions work and which don’t.  After I started working with groups (and things were going wrong), using test students showed me how things actually worked.  Napoleon said, “The map is not the territory.”  Well,  Fran says, “The documentation is not the Moodle.” Test it.
  • There are some great Moodle tutorials, so watch them.  If one doesn’t seem to help, there is probably another on the same topic that just might. 
  • There is also a great Moodle community. Just one place to get help is on forums at moodle.org.  http://moodle.org/forums/ You won’t get instant responses, but it’s free and helpful.  Another place: follow the hashtag #moodle on Twitter; many of the Tweets are pretty technical, but I’ve found some worthwhile resources and information there.  Follow Moodle blogs – these are a great place to learn. If you aren’t sure how to follow a blog, check out how to use RSS here:  http://justintimepd.pbworks.com/w/page/28240363/Collecting-information-automatically-%28RSS%29
  • One thing to be aware of – since Moodle is “open source,” that means that anybody can modify it – and they do.  Also, each installation of Moodle is a bit different.  Sometimes not all modules have been turned on.  Sometimes add-ins have been added, but sometimes not.  You can see a lot of what’s available on your particular installation by clicking on Add an activity.   Ask the tech guy/gal. 
  • Play around.  Many Moodlers have a “sandbox” just for trying stuff out – it can be a separate course, or just one topic out of a course. 
  • Have fun!


  1. Its tough starting out, recommend Moodlers explore, create, accept there will be issues and keep in mind, Year 2 you will have a lot of the hard work complete and the learning will go on. I am in the middle of year 2 and learning every course / half-term I teach.

  2. Thanks for your comment. It doesn't get easier in year 2 - the issues become different as you try new things. Worth it, though.