Moodle tools you may not be aware of

The DLE here has been going for some time now, but is it being used to its full potential? Are you utilising its activities or are you using it as an area to dump your word documents?

There are some really useful tools available for you to use. Next time you reach for Word or PowerPoint, stop and look at these activities first. Using Moodle activities means that your content is in one place and you don’t have to worry about which is the ‘most up to date’ Word document. Some of these activities even handle the marking for you, in some cases this eliminates the need for accepting submission of Word docs, keeping track of them, marking and then returning. Using the right Moodle activity, all this can be taken care of for you.

Here in TELMeD we have been working on a number of RLO’s to help staff get familiar and gain confidence in using some of these tools.

In particular we have created RLO’s for the following Moodle activities:

  • Workshop
  • OU Wiki
  • Lesson
  • Chat
  • Choice

Currently in development are RLOs on the Glossary and Feedback Activity.


Good for: Peer assessment.

Out of all the activities listed, the Workshop tool is probably the most involved to setup, but with good reason.

The Workshop tool allows students to submit a piece of work for review before getting assigned someone else’s work for them to assess. The teacher has full control of the process throughout and has a good range of options during the setup process to enable them to create a perfectly bespoke experience that best suits the nature of their module. For example the teacher can choose if the students receive a ‘model answer’ for review that they must assess prior to assessing another students actual piece of work. This gives the teacher a chance to highlight any areas that the student needs to be aware of when marking a ‘live’ piece.

Ample settings means that the teacher can ensure that a student has submitted a piece of work before they are allowed to mark another students work. A mark can be assigned for both the submission of their own work as well as a mark for how accurately they have assessed anthers work. The teacher can manually allocate who marks who’s work or they can choose to fully automate the process.

Each step in the process of submitting and assessing can be switched automatically using deadline dates or they can be switched manually by the teacher. Once all students have submitted their work and have finished assessing each others work the teacher can view and override any unfair marking before releasing the grades to the students.

Although the initial setup can be quite daunting at first, TELMeD are here to help guide you through the process. Once it has been done once, it can be rolled over year on year along with the rest of your module.

OU Wiki

Good for: Wikis (obviously), collaborative work.

The OU in OU Wiki stands for Open University and is in active use there where they continue to maintain and develop this plugin.

A wiki is a web‐based system that lets you work together to create and edit a set of linked pages.

It’s a quick, easy way of creating a mini‐website. The system also keeps is a record of who has made changes and created content and a history allowing you to ‘roll back’ to an earlier version. These features make it a useful tool for group working and creating a shared resource.

Other features include:

  • Includes integrated comments on pages or headings and single words.
  • Supports most features of the old wiki.
  • Better (then old wiki) comparison of page versions.
  • Usage reports and statistics.
  • Easy navigation, from current page to “pages linking to this page”.
  • Hierarchical page index.
  • Extended page history management tool (per page and activity wide).
  • Ability to add new paragraphs and new pages, easily, at the end of each page (which allow parallel usage of the page by users, to some degree).
  • If you want a search facility for the wiki, you must also install the ousearch block.


Good for: Distance Learning

The lesson module presents a series of HTML pages to the student who is usually asked to make some sort of choice underneath the content area. The choice will send them to a specific page in the Lesson. In a Lesson page’s simplest form, the student can select a continue button at the bottom of the page, which will send them to the next page in the Lesson.

This area will look at what a Lesson is, what it is capable of and some of the settings you may encounter during the set up process.
When a student clicks a Lesson they will see an introductory page with one or more buttons which they choose from to select the path they wish to take.

Depending on how the teacher has set up the page there may or may not be a menu displayed on the left and there may or may not be an ongoing score.

Students proceed through the Lesson with either content pages of information (not graded) or various types of questions pages (may be graded).

Planned well, a lesson can present content and questions that customise themselves to individual students with no further intervention from the teacher.

This is useful when you are, for example, orienting a class of students in your course whose basic knowledge level you are unsure of; you can lead students through the information, indicate to those with less knowledge the kinds of reading they should do to catch up, or direct those who find the questions impossible to contact their tutors for assistance. Formative assessment at mid-semester is also an instance where Lessons can be useful.

Characteristics of Lesson:

  • Contains questions pages and content pages.
  • Capable of branching.
  • Designed to be adaptive and uses student’s choices to create a self-directed lesson.
  • With planning this module can customise the presentation of content and questions to each student with no further action required by the teacher.
  • Usually consists of HTML pages where after reading the student is required to make some sort of choice beneath the content. This choice will send them to a specific page in the lesson.
  • In its simplest form the user will hit continue at the end of the content to continue to the next page in series.


Good for: Providing distance support, discussion, module specific meetings.

The chat activity module allows participants to have a real-time synchronous discussion in a Moodle course.

This is a useful way to get a different understanding of each other and the topic being discussed – the mode of using a chat room is quite different from the asynchronous forums.

Why use chat?

Chat has an advantage over a Forum in that it takes place in Real Time. It is especially beneficial when the group chatting is not able to meet face to face. Examples might be:

  • Regular meetings of staff on large or split campuses to discuss student or curriculum issues.
  • Regular meetings of students doing online courses to enable them to share experiences with others on the same course but potentially in a different city (or country).
  • A teacher working with his students even though he is out of school.
  • A student temporarily unable to attend in person chatting with their tutor to catch up with work.
  • Students out on work experience getting together to discuss their experiences with each other and their tutor.
  • Younger children using chat at home in the evenings as a controlled(monitored) introduction to the world of social networking.


Good for: Quick Poll, Group Choices.

The Choice activity allows you to ask a single question and set up radio buttons which learners can click to make a selection from a number of possible responses.They can choose one or more option and they can update their selection if you allow them. Choices can be useful as quick poll to stimulate thinking about a topic; to allow the class to vote on a direction for the course, or to gauge progress. As a teacher you can always see the results, but you can also choose whether or not to allow learners to see each others’ choices and whether or not to allow them to see the names or merely the percentage of votes. You can download their responses in a variety of formats. Responses may be ‘published’, ie made visible once the learner has made a selection, or visible once the choice is closed. Choice options may be restricted so only a certain number may make a particular selection, and you can also opt to display a column showing who have not made their selection.

Ideas for using the Choice activity:

The following examples are mostly taken from a Using Moodle forum discussion Creative Uses.

Gather pre-event comments – A simple question to answer, to kick start – the beginning of a lesson. Gather initial comments, reasons for taking course.
Memo tracking – I have made some minor changes to the Choice code (only requiring one “choice”) so that we in the Business world can use the Choice module for Memo tracking.
Each Memo is a new Choice, the memo is entered, and the choice is “I have read and understand this memo”. Then our Managers can track who has or has not read the memo, and follow up with those who have not read them.

Feedback from students about course or activity – A question left unanswered from a lesson – that needs an answer. Now home study. As feedback about a lesson, as assessment for learning.

Polling tool – As they are so fast to set up – they can even be used as a polling tool, although there are other tools out there. A colleague used them for student voice polling.
Registrar and Administration uses – Currently Moodle Choices is offering a far greater contribution to our admin functions than our teaching.(remember not to use groups in this function) Elective courses: students are given a list of choices that they can choose from.
Sign up for an activity – Sign up for a specific activity e.g. Rosetta Stone, cycle rental – Students self-enrol to a moodle coursepage then click to say ‘please sign me up’ – we use choices in order to set course limits.
Use with podcasts and videos – Include podcasts or videos as well as images in the choice activity.


If you are interested in using these tools for your modules then please contact TELMeD if you require any assistance.

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