Introduction to the Moodle MScN Template
1. Moodle MScN-Template Overview
Moodle, which was developed by a dynamic, open source community, is York University’s premier course management system. Selected for its highly interactive components such as forums, assignments and chats, in addition to the easy-to-use book resource and incorporation of rich media files, Moodle became host to the online MScN program in the spring of 2008.
A Moodle template was collaboratively developed to imitate the look and feel of WebCT, former host to MScN courses -- thus the continuity of the left frame containing navigational links such as Quicklinks and library links, the right frame assigned mainly to administrative links with the exception of the Subject Research Guide (for aesthetic balance), and the centre frame devoted to general information and content modules.
This mini-manual is by no means an exhaustive account of Moodle, its many features and processes, but a convenient reference to those aspects used within the MScN template. Other Moodle resources here at York and in the general Moodle community are listed in Chapter 8 of this manual. Of special note is the vibrant community forum where you can share and receive new ideas. May you have a rich and rewarding teaching experience!
2. An Explanation of each Inherent Block
Once an MScN course is approved and a “Request a New Moodle course” submitted from the “Resources for instructors” link at the http://moodle.yorku.ca page, the MScN template is applied with its inherent links:
Left frame Centre frame (course summary) Right frame
Activities block MScN School of Nursing banner Calendar block
Quicklinks Course #, Title and Section Administration block
Search forum block Year and Session People block
York University Library guide Course Instructor Messages block
Horizontal Rule Subject Research
Moodle Tutorial link guide
1) The Activities block automatically displays alphabetically ordered links leading to all of the Assignments, Books (resources), Chats, Forums and Resources that you have created. This is especially useful within those courses utilizing the Topic format in which the 2nd unit which hosts multi-forums, assignments etc. is “hidden.” See Chapter 1, section 5.
2) The customized HTML block called Quicklinks includes information for graduate students’ such as the MScN program, learning resources and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
3) The optional Search forum allows one to perform basic and advanced searches of the forums within the course.
4) The built-in Library Guide displays important York University’s Library links to such things as catalogues and services to students with disabilities.
5) The optional My Courses block provides quick access to all the Moodle courses one has access to on the Moodle@York server.*
6) In addition, a Section block may be added to this column allowing quick access to each of the Weekly Topic sections (if chosen) which can contain as many as 25 units within a full school year.
1) The course summary contains the Course Number, Title, Session and Instructor information. It is also host to the Announcement forum, the official course news forum, tutorial or other resources relevant to the entire course
2) The first unit contains all the course content, be they actual links to files within the course database, links to web pages; text pages created within Moodle; links displaying directories within the course database; decorative horizontal label separating the above; then the University copyright year.
3) The second unit, which is hidden after the course is launched, hosts all of the multiple assignments, forums and chats. See Chapter 1, section 5.
1) The Calendar automatically displays from your range of pre-created activities, upcoming events such as assignment due dates. The function to manually add events to your calendar can be achieved by first clicking on the date, then choosing the New Event link.
2) From the Administration block the
Instructor can perform such functions as changing their settings, applying
grades (if used), assign roles to new members, generate reports of individual
students and upload files to their course database.
3) From the People block, each course member can view all of the participants’ profiles, send messages to each other and check the student group memberships.
4) The Messages block if enabled, provides a way to see who is online and an alternative way to view messages sent via the People block. However, for official student to instructor or instructor to student contact, the easily archived private forum is recommended. See Chapter 6, section 2.
*Potential block – while it is not an inherent block, instructors may choose to add that block as a convenience for switching from one course web site to another within Moodle. Please see, “Adding Blocks” in Part 1, Section 2.
Chapter 1: Course Structure & Preparation for Launching
1. Brief Overview of Webpage Layout
The MScN course web site is divided into three columns, left, middle, and right frames. Each frame is customized to include specific information.
Figure 1-1: MScN Moodle Course Model
MScN Course Web Site Template
It is recommended that you leave all of the inherent blocks
with the following exceptions: You may delete the “Search Forums” or the “Messages”
block from the right frame, if you do not find them useful. See next page. The
MScN template models the following order.
Deleting an Unnecessary Block
Moodle provides a number of other functional blocks that can be added to your course web site via the Add Blocks tool. They include Upcoming Events, Random Glossary Entry, Blog Tags, Remote RSS Feeds and others. You may add any of these blocks noting the above-recommended order.
Adding a New Block
Moving a New Block From Right to Left Frame
2. Types of Course Format
Of the two formats that can be used within the MScN courses, the MScN-Template team recommends the Topics format over the Weekly format:
This is a
good choice if you would like to present a clean, one-page, concise,
non-scrolling web site. Two (2) topic formats can be selected. See section 3 Editing Course Settings to facilitate Topic Format. The first unit
can host all of the course content. The second unit can host forums, assignments,
quizzes, and other activities (which can be then hidden for aesthetic appeal).
See Section 5 Hiding Multiple Forums in Topic Format for
With this format, you specify a course start date and the number of weeks the course is to run. Moodle will create a section for each week of your course. See Section 4 Editing Course Settings to facilitate Weekly Format. You can add content, forums, and quizzes relevant to each week. The disadvantage of this format is that it demands much vertical scrolling unless you add a “Section block” that allows the student to navigate to each unit.
The settings page, where you set the course format, also gives you access to a number of important course options.
Please leave the following fields at the default selection: 1) Full name, 2) Short name, 3) Course ID Number and 4) Enrolments.
Making Changes to Your Course Settings
Figure 1-6: Topic Format Settings
4. Editing Course Settings to Facilitate Weekly Format
Figure 1-7: Weekly Format Settings
5. Hiding Multiple Forums in Topic Format for Aesthetic Appeal
In order to provide a single, non-scrolling page from which all the course material can be accessed, it is necessary to “hide” the second unit chosen to host multiple forums, chats, assignments. Consequently, only the course content in Unit 1 will be displayed. See Figure 1-3. After you have set your Number of Weeks/Topics to 2 as in Figure 1-2 above, you may add your forums/chats/assignments using the Activity block.
Figure 1-8: Topic Format Displaying Unit 1 Area Only With Unit 2 “hidden”
Once you have completed adding all the forums/chats/assignments needed, go back to your Administration/Settings as in Section 4 Editing Course Settings to Facilitate Topic Format and change the Number of Weeks/Topics to 1 instead of 2. Save your changes.
Those instructions have been duplicated here for your convenience.
This will result in Unit 2 of the Topic Format being hidden. Both students and instructors will now be able to access the hidden material from the Activities block. See Figure 1-9 below.
Figure 1-9: Displaying Activities block
6. Editing Course Settings to Make Course Available to Students
Once you have satisfactorily built your course, and you wish to make it available to students,
1. Click “Settings” in the Administration block.
2. Scroll down to the Availability section
3. Choose “This course is available to students” from the Availability drop-down menu
Figure 1-10: Making Course Available to Students
The once “grayed out” course web site has now been launched and is available to students.
7. Editing User Profile
In establishing your unique course, you may edit the settings in your User Profile. For instance, you may decide to use another course e-mail ID instead of your personal e-mail. Please note, however, that whichever e-mail you identify in your Profile will apply to all your Moodle courses.
Figure 1-11: Editing Profile Settings
On the right side of the profile from, you’ll see a “Show Advanced” button. There are a number of profile options that are hidden by default. These are not changed very often and can be a bit confusing for a new user. They are indicated with a green asterisk. The mandatory fields are marked with a red asterisk and must be filled to submit the form.
Figure 1-12: User Profile Settings
Figure 1-13: Editing User Profile
Disabling Forum Post Forwarding to Email
You may change your choice about receiving forum posts in your e-mail. In order not to receive each forum post via e-mail, there are two methods to do this:
a Profile Picture
Figure 1-14: Uploading Profile Picture
Chapter 2: Assigning Roles
Student enrolment within Moodle is automatic, once registered. However, you may occasionally need to manually assign roles to deferred students, non-editing teacher and teacher. Moodle facilitates this manual assignment of roles.
1. Adding a Deferred Student
Figure 2-1: Manually Assigning Students
Those deferred students who are being manually enrolled must have an active Moodle account. To get an active Moodle account, they must have logged in to the Moodle server that currently hosts the course web site. For example, they go to the http://moodle.yorku.ca page, select the Fall 08-09 link and login, then log out.
2. Adding Teacher
You may wish to add another teacher to your course who can either be seen or “hidden” from the students’ view. An example of a hidden teacher would be an e-learning support person who needs to have access to all areas of the site or “teacher rights.”
3. Adding non-editing Teacher
Follow the directions in see Section 2 Adding Teacher exactly as instructed. Non-editing teachers should generally be hidden, so perform this extra step.
Figure 2-2: Using Checkbox to Add “Hidden” non-editing Teacher
4. Student View/Access
Student users can do all of the following:
Chapter 3: Building Your Course Content
1. File Types Displayed by Moodle
The DOC file extension is used by several word processing programs such as Microsoft Word and Corel WordPerfect and is ideal for its good text formatting capability. However, DOC files can be different versions, and can only be opened in their native word processor like MS Word.
The Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format created by Adobe Systems. The purpose of this file type is for cross platform file compatibility, hence its portability. The PDF file type is ideal if you do not want the viewers of your document to be able to modify your document.
The Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) is a popular choice for multi-content files such as
links, text, borders, tables, images, and Java applets. Web filtered HTML file types are the only files used in the Book Resource (See Section 4 Using the Resource Block to Display Your Course Files).
Small Rich Media files such as MP3s (10 to 20 MB) or
RAMs can be supported directly by Moodle. Videos and expansive audio files
should however, be located on a streaming server, and from Moodle, resource
links can be used to access them.
Though the resource, Display a Directory can host all the above file types, web-filtered HTML is the only option used by the Book resource, a popular choice for MScN courses.
2. Resource Options Drop-down Menu & Organizing Content
After clicking “Turn editing on,” the “Add a resource” menu becomes available.
Figure 3-1: Web Page Layout in Edit Mode
3. Preparation of Course Files to be Uploaded to Moodle
Your Moodle course may contain Word, PDF, PowerPoint, Excel, HTML and even small audio files (10 to 20 MB each) in your Moodle course. You may upload one file at a time via the Administration/Files’ “Upload A File” function. However, if all your work for the entire course duration is complete, you may Zip the folder that contains all the subfolders and files and upload them to the Files directory area of Moodle. This establishes them locally in the Moodle course, but they are not yet accessible to students until you create resources which link them to the main page. The Steps below outline the procedure to first Zip, Upload, then Unzip an entire folder and its contents.
Once all your course files are ready to be uploaded, from Windows Explorer:
From your Moodle course, go to Administration/Files
4. Using the Resource Block to Display Your Course Files
To display your files on the course page, you may use any of the following Resource Options:
Figure 3-2: Book Resources
Adding a Resource
Simply click “Turn editing on” and for the chosen topic, select from the drop-down menu you would like to add.
5. Employing Internal & External Links
Adding a Link to a File Already on the Moodle Server
Figure 3-3: Adding a Link to a File or Web site
Adding a Link to a Web Site Outside of Moodle
An Example of Uploading an mp3 File Named “madeInHolland.mp3” to the Course
Figure 3-4: Files Already on Server
Figure 3-5: Finding the mp3 File
Figure 3-6: mp3 File Appears on the Server
Now the mp3 file will appear in the middle frame of the Moodle course web site in the topic that it was added to. Students can now click on the link and download it.
6. Preparation of Files to be Uploaded to the Book Resource
A completed document must be converted to web-filtered HTML before it can be uploaded to the Book resource. To convert a Microsoft Word document to web-filtered HTML:
Note: Some may not
have the option, Save as Web Page
Once all your course files are converted to web-filtered HTML, from Windows Explorer:
From your Moodle course, go to Administration/Files:
7. Uploading Files to the Book Resource
To upload, perform the following functions:
Figure 3-7: Book Display
Editing a Resource
The following describes the functions of the buttons available for each resource once created.
Chapter 4: Employing Groups & Groupings
1. Difference Between Groups & Groupings
Group: a cluster of students within Moodle that
1. Can remain permanent throughout the course
2. Can have identical and the same number of assignments
Groups can either be
1. VISIBLE = group work can be viewed by ALL students (students can only participate, however, in their own group) OR
2. SEPARATE = group members can see only their group work.
If you would like to organize your course into simple, permanent groups that have identical assignments, you need GROUPS.
Never delete groups after a completed activity – you will lose all their work.
Grouping: a cluster of pre-created groups within Moodle that
1. Can be rotated throughout course
2. Can have isolated, customized assignments assigned to specific groupings
An added advantage of Groupings within Moodle is that it allows the facilitation of a Private forum with each student in the course. To do so, you will first have to create a group for each student. It is important when creating the Private forum, that you choose “Separate Groups” as the group mode.
When creating an Activity assigned to groupings, it will not
automatically create one per each grouping. As a result, each grouping
activity will have to be created separately.
2. Creating Groups & Groupings
Creating a Group
Adding a User to a Group
Figure 4-1: Adding/Removing Users to a Group
Removing a User From a Group
Creating a Single-student Group for the Purpose of a `Private Forum’
To do so, you would first have to:
Repeat the steps above for each student, until all the students are assigned to their individual groups.
P.S. If you use this one-student group function, you would then have to create Grouping (comprising of individual groups) for the purpose of assigned Activities and shared Forums.
Creating a Grouping
A grouping is constructed by collecting multiple groups into one set.
Adding Groups to a Grouping
Figure 4-2: Adding Groups to a Grouping
Note: To remove a group from a grouping, in step 4, click “Remove” instead of “Add.”
3. Assigning Groups/Groupings to Activities
To assign an activity to a group, within the Common module settings you would choose either “Separate groups” or “Visible groups” for the Group mode field as instructed in section 1 Difference Between Groups and Groupings.
To assign an activity to a grouping, within the Common module settings for the activity:
Figure 4-3: Adding an Activity to Groupings
Chapter 5: Using Moodle Assignments
1. Assignment Types
There are five Assignment types:
2. Assignment Creation
Once you have decided on the basic type of assignment, you can very quickly create a place for students to upload, or enter their responses to the materials as in the “online text.”
Figure 5-1: Adding an Assignment in the Resource Option
If you require explanations for the fields, click on the question mark button next to the setting for a description. Depending on which assignment type you choose, you will see a few different settings in addition to the General settings and the Common module settings. Each assignment’s settings look different.
Figure 5-2: General Settings
Figure 5-3: Common Module Settings
Illustrations of Settings
3. Assignment Marking & Feedback
Figure 5-7: Assignment Options
Figure 5-9: Grading and feedback window
The student will then be notified that there is assignment feedback.
4. Quick Grading
Students’ grades and feedback for students can be given in a quick manner by choosing to allow the quick grading option. This enables the display of many students and their assignments on a single webpage along with the ability to assign a grade to it and enter feedback.
Figure 5-10: Display of All Assignments
Figure 5-11: Display of Webpage with Quick Grading Turn On
Chapter 6: Communicating Within Moodle
Types, Creation & Defining Forums
In addition to the news forum, Moodle has four basic forum types:
Adding a Forum to a Class
Figure 6-1: Forum Settings
Figure 6-2: Additional Forum Settings
2. Private Forum
You can opt to have the student communicate with you via the
`Private forum' instead of
P.S. If you use this function, you would then have to create Grouping (comprising of individual groups) for the purpose of assigned Activities and shared Forums.
Creating Forums Hidden from the Middle Frame
Please see Chapter 1, Section 6 Hiding Multiple Forums in Topic Format for Aesthetic Appeal.
Accessing Hidden Forums
To access forums hidden from the middle frame on the main page:
Figure 6-3: Accessing Forums from Activities Block
All of the forums within a course, including hidden forums, are searchable. Performing a forum search can find useful information easily. All forums within the course are searched simultaneously.
The Search Forums block on your course page enables you to quickly search for a particular word within a forum post. If you obtain more than one page of results, you may wish to try an advanced search. An advanced search enables you to refine your search in any/all of the following ways:
3. Sending Announcement to All Students Through A Forum
A forum could be created and designated the “Course Announcements” forum. This forum is created like any other forum. Once it is created, “Topics” can be added to this forum to distribute information about the course throughout the semester.
Figure 6-4: Forum Topic Settings
A Chat tools allows participants to have a real-time synchronous discussion via the web. It contains several features for managing and reviewing discussions. Chats can be added to specific weekly sections or, they can be added and “hidden” on the second topic unit. See Chapter 1, Section 6. Hiding Multiple Forums in Topic Format for Aesthetic Appeal.
Adding a Chat Tool
1. Click “Turn editing on” in the Administration block.
2. From chosen area, click “Chat” in the “Add an activity” drop-down menu.
3. Type the name of this chat room.
4. Type the introduction text.
5. Select the chat settings (explained below).
6. Click the “Save and return to course” button.
Figure 6-5: Chat Settings
Next chat time
The date you select here will be displayed on the course calendar along with a link to the chat room. If you do not wish to publish chat times, then you can disregard the date and time settings and choose not to publish them in the next step.
There are four options, explained below.
Save past sessions
Set the number of days you want the transcripts of the session to be kept on record.
Everyone can view past sessions
If you select Yes for this setting, learners can click on the title of the Chat room and then view past sessions to see any interactions that have taken place in the Chat room. If you select No here, then only the instructors in the course will have access to the transcripts.
5. People Block
Participants include teachers and students within the course. Clicking on Participants from the People block takes you to a page from which displays all the course participants and their Last access information. Clicking on individual participants further shows their Profile and other tabs, such as forum posts and activity reports as in Figure 6-6 below. One of the main reasons for this block however, is to conveniently send messages to one another. Messages can be sent to individuals or multiple students. These messages can be accessed either through the Message block, or via their e-mails, depending on their Message settings.
Figure 6-6: People/Participant Block
Sending a Message to One Participant
Figure 6-7: Message Window
Sending a Message to Multiple Participants
Figure 6-8: Sending Message to Multiple Participants
6. Message Block
The Message Block allows participants to send and respond to messages while on-line. It is not restricted to course participants only, but extends to all York University Moodle members. This method of messaging is not recommended as the primary means of communication within the course, but serves as a fast and easy means of communicating while in Moodle. For serious communication between Instructors and students, see Section 2 Private Forums.
Sending a Message
Reading and Replying to a Message
When you are sent a message, the Messages window will pop-up. Also, the Messages block will display the name of the person sending the message with a link to read the message. If you have set the email option, then you will get a copy of the message in your email after the time you have specified if you are not logged in. After reading a message, you may type a reply, and then click on the "Send message" button.
Sending a Message to All Participants
Figure 6-10: Select to Show All Participants
Figure 6-11: Selecting to Send Message
Moodle allows for the quick gathering of input from students by professors through the Choice activity. It acts as a poll to find out student opinions on a course related issue.
Figure 6-12: Choice Name and Question
Figure 6-13: Time Restriction on Choice
Figure 6-14: Miscellaneous Settings
Chapter 7: Grading In Moodle
You may use the built-in Grade Tool in Moodle, or you can choose to import an excel file displaying the final grade breakdown. When using either, you need to establish student access to their grades in Moodle.
Displaying Grades in Moodle
Figure 7-1: Show
Grades Drop-down Menu
Student Access to Displayed Grades
From the student view, it is a simple step to see their grades.
Figure 7-2: Grade Access
Figure 7-3: Grades Breakdown
2. Using the Gradebook in Moodle
It is highly recommended that you commit to a grade markup totalling 100% and e-mail email@example.com with your total course percentages to be formularized. When creating all the on-line graded assignments, please note however, that the “out-of marks” allowed in the individual assignment settings can be different from the final percentage weighting of the course. The above-mentioned formula will synchronize this.
In addition, if you need an additional participation grade column to complete the overall grade total of 100%, to accommodate this, you will need to create an “Offline Activity” assignment. You may then manually enter your participation grades from the grade tool.
Adding an Offline Activity to Accommodate Manual Grading
Figure 7-4: Adding an Assignment in the Resource Option
Once you create all your assignments and activities:
For more details about grading, it is recommended that you attend one of the Faculty Support Centre’s (FSC) workshops on grades (http://www.fsc.yorku.ca/workshops).
3. Importing Final Grades in Moodle
If you decide not to use the built-in Grade Tool in Moodle, you may import an excel file for the final grades. It is highly recommended, however, that you first download the original student spreadsheet from the Grade Tool in order to preserve the integrity of the unique Student IDs.
Downloading Spreadsheet from Moodle
To export a Grade spreadsheet:
Re-Importing Spreadsheet to Moodle
Figure 7-6: Saving Excel Workbook
Figure 7-7: Importing a CSV File
Figure 7-8: Import File Options
Figure 7-9: Options
Chapter 8: Other Moodle Resources
Other helpful Resources for Instructors exist at the following links:
General Moodle Community