Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Using Hot Potatoes with Moodle

I’ve never used the quiz module in Moodle both because it’s hard to use, and because multiple choice isn’t something I use a lot.  As an English teacher, I usually want my students to write. 

But I still want to be able to use quiz-type activities, especially for review.   So I was delighted to see that my Moodle host, GlobalClassroom, supports Hot Potatoes, which provides matching, multiple-choice, cloze, and similar activities, with very minimal effort on my part.

Here’s how it worked for me.

First, I downloaded Hot Potatoes to my PC, available from the University of Victoria at http://hotpot.uvic.ca/ .  It will also work on Mac and Linux.

Then, using the Hot Potatoes program that is now on my desktop, I created a matching exercise to help students review what they know about homophones, with the words on the left and short definitions on the right.  Students drag the correct definition to the word and then check their work.  You choose the type of quiz and enter the questions next to the correct answers (students will see the answers scrambled).  You can use the default directions or add your own.   And you can set the number of tries as well as a time limit for each try. 

After saving the Hot Potatoes exercise on my PC, I opened Moodle, and clicked on Add an Activity and then on Hot Potatoes Quiz.  Then I uploaded the file I just created and voila, there it is. 

Today my students practiced with the new quiz in class, some several times until they got it right (or at least better).  Some asked, “Can I try this some more at home?”  which is just what I want to hear.   
I learned to use Hot Potato from the Moodle eAssessment course I took through LearnNowBC http://www.learnnowbc.ca/educators/MoodleMeets/default.aspx

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Private teacher-student conversation, the Online Text Assignment tool in Moodle

    Ever want to have a way for your students to converse with you online that allows the student privacy from their peers?  Email seems obvious, but my students don’t check their email.  Ever.  And I’ve had students “converse” with me via separate threads in a discussion forum (one thread per student).  But that’s not private (unless I want to set up each student as a separate group, which is way too much work when one has 100+ students in secondary school). 

    Happily, Moodle has the Online Text Assignment tool, which allows students to post what they’re thinking and allows me to respond.  My students find this to be very like posting to a forum, but they know that only the teacher sees what they write.  Since we’re in the midst of student-written and –directed plays, done in small groups, there is a fair amount of tension as some students take the work more seriously than others.  It’s useful to provide a private place to vent, as well as a place for students to reflect on the experience.  And I get to make suggestions (also private), or address the problem in the F2F class.   

    It isn’t quite the same “conversation” I’ve had when I had students post to separate forum threads about a research project, but it is more private, which I know students appreciate.  I get an email whenever a student posts a reflection.  This is similar to emails when a student posts to a forum – except forum posts show in the email, whereas the content of the online text assignment is not included in the email.  I like getting the emails especially for students who post early – so I can respond immediately – and for students who post late – so I can still respond.

    I'll be using this tool again. 

   I learned about the Online Text Assignment during the eAssessment in Moodle course I recently took through  LearnNowBC http://www.learnnowbc.ca/educators/MoodleMeets/default.aspx.  So happy to expand my assessment repetoire.