About Me

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Clarks Summit, PA, United States
My name is Erica Vail and I started Moodling in 2009. My goal as an instructional designer is to use pedagogically appropriate technological tools to deliver activities online that align with learning objectives. I enjoy the world of academia, and I envision working in higher education for a long time. It's where I belong. -bbcmoodler

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Summer '14 Moodle Updates

Summer '14 Updates
On July 9, Moodle was upgraded to the latest version (2.6).  Here are some important things to know about Moodle 2.6:

Internet Explorer 6, 7, and 8 are not recommended at all.  You will encounter difficulties trying to use these old browsers with Moodle 2.6.  If you use Internet Explorer, make sure it is version 9 or above.  If you want to be able to drag a file from outside the browser (e.g. from your desktop) into Moodle, you must use version 10.
Safari 5 is no longer supported.  Versions higher than 5 will work, but Safari is not the most recommended browser for Moodle.
Firefox and Google Chrome remain the best browsers for Moodle.  Use the most recent versions of these browsers.

Operating Systems
iOS 6 and above is recommended for an Apple mobile/tablet.

Android 4 and above is recommended for a Google mobile/tablet.

Editing Tools
Editing tools have been grouped together in a single dropdown menu for easy access across desktop and mobile devices.  The icons are no longer shown horizontally across the course page.  Click "turn editing on" to see the "edit" link.  Clicking on "edit" will bring up the menu with the same functionality that you are used to seeing except now it is contained within a dropdown menu.

Activity Updates
The assignment activity allows students to upload PDFs that teachers/graders can annotate right inside of Moodle.  However, annotations inside of the system are not yet possible with Word documents.
If a student drops Internet connection during a quiz, instructors will be notified.

What's to Come
Moodle will undergo more updates on July 16.  These will result in more noticeable changes than the ones from the small July 9 upgrade, but the changes are ones that you will like!  A few of your colleagues have already taken a peek at the changes and have found them to make the site more intuitive and to better meet the needs of the learner.  Your Moodle account will become more organized for better workflow and easier navigation.  Stay tuned for information about the new Moodle navigation.  You will receive an email update when the updates have been applied.  Contained within that email will be a link to a video that will show you around the new site!  You will have all of the resources that you need to get acclimated to the new way of navigating through your course.  It will look different at first but within a few days navigating around will be an unconscious activity, so breathe easy!

Note that Moodle will be down while it is undergoing its awesome makeover, so please plan accordingly.  The downtime is scheduled for Wednesday, July 16 from approx. 9:00 AM until approx. 1:00 PM EDT.
Happy Moodling!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Adjust Quiz/Exam Settings for Just One Student

A student needs special accommodations on an exam.  What should you do?

1.       Click on the link to the exam in Moodle.
2.       Click on the “User Overrides” link.
3.       Click on “Add User Override.”
4.       Click on the name of the student needing accommodations.
5.       Make any of the following adjustments:
-Extend the due date.
-Extend the time limit.
-Increase the number of attempts allowed.

Video demonstration (36 secs.): 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Free Technology for Teachers

This PDF lists common FREE educational technology tools for teachers with a brief description of each.

Click here for PDF

Monday, July 15, 2013

Moodle 2 Quick Guide for Teachers

I put together a comprehensive guide for teachers that includes information about features of Moodle 2 that were not found in Moodle 1.  I have sent it to the professors at BBC&S, but I thought I'd share it with the population at large.  Enjoy!

Click Here for Quick Guide

Monday, June 17, 2013

Using Rubrics in Moodle 2

As you know, a rubric is a grading standard established for a given assignment.  The rubric consists of various criteria.  For each criterion, several descriptive levels are provided.  Have you ever wished that you could have a rubric right inside Moodle and use it to grade assignments that are submitted through the system?  Well, now you can!

Imagine this:

A student submits an assignment via Moodle.
You open the assignment and use a rubric inside of Moodle to award appropriate points for each criterion on the rubric.
Moodle gives a grade based on the points that you select for each item/criterion.
The grade automatically transfers into the grade book!

Why would one do this?
  • It assures that the assignment objectives are tied to particular assessments.
  •  A rubric only needs to be created ONE time and it can be shared across assignments!
  •   It will allow for consistency across courses.  For example, the same rubric that is used to assess a forum discussion in one course can be used in another course as well.
  •  It’s easier!  You don’t have to get out your syllabus and look at your rubrics and switch from looking down at your paper to up at the screen!  You can do it all electronically!
  •  Moodle does the math for you!  

Watch this video to learn how to set up rubrics in your Moodle course:

Conditional Activities: Pedagogical Considerations

Moodle 2 allows you to restrict the availability of activities until certain conditions are met.  These are called conditional activities.  For example, you may restrict all of the content and activities in a particular module until a certain grade is earned on the quiz in a previous module. 

Conditional activities are a way for you to force your students to work through things in a particular order.  It is certainly good course design to make it clear to your students what they are expected to do next, but do you need to force?  Malcolm Knowles and his principles of andragogy would tell us that adult learners like to be in control of their own learning.  So, should you use labels and layout, rather than locks and keys, to suggest the best learning path?  Something to think about, eh?  Here are some suggestions for when the use of conditional activities might be appropriate:

- The idea of restricting access to something until another task has been completed happens to nicely mirror the level structure present in many games.  You could venture into games-based learning.  Just a thought for those who are creative in that way…
Conditional activities are good to use when one week/module builds on the next.  If you need to lead the horse to water AND make him/her drink, a conditional activity might be just what you are looking for.  Suppose you need the students to choose a group for an activity.  You can create a “Choice” activity and then make access to that week’s graded discussion forum dependent upon the completion of the “Choice” activity. 
- If you want to be sure that students have read content before posting in the discussion forums or before taking a quiz, you can set up the forums or the quiz so that the PDFs/URLs (i.e. electronic reading material) must be opened before the activities become available.  This way, the students can’t discuss material that they have never even opened!
-Facilitating self-directed learning is perhaps where conditional activities are the most powerful.  They allow you to automate several paths through content.  Conditional activities make it simple to offer both extension and remedial activities to students simultaneously.  For instance, you might have a practice quiz set up so that students who achieve above a certain score are directed to further exploration activities whereas those who achieve below a certain score are given access to some help resources.

 Watch this video to learn how to set up conditional activities in your Moodle course:

Friday, November 4, 2011


Sliderocket is a great presentation software program.  The "lite" version is free.  Although it has some limitations compared to the $24.00/month "pro" version, it does enough to allow you to create something pretty cool.  It looks clean and crisp.  Check it out for use in your classes or, if you are a Moodle trainer, consider using it as a presentation tool when training faculty.