We’ll add a competitive element to the project and—just as we have seen on TV—let the children vote for the winner. The tasks we set will involve the students researching, collaborating, and reflecting. They will be working hard, but we’ll have a much easier time now, as all of their responses will be on Moodle for us to view and mark at our convenience—no more carrying heavy books around.
Giving our class a chance to vote
Moodle has an activity, known as Choice, which allows you to present students with a number of options that they can choose from. We’re actually going to use it twice in our project, for two different purposes. Let’s us try and set it up.
Time for action-giving students a chance to choose a winner
The students have posted their suggestions, comments, and views on Moodle. A choice is to be made of the best suggestion. Who better, than the students themselves to choose and vote for the best?
- With editing turned on, click on Add an Activity and then select Choice.
- In the Name field, enter an appropriate descriptive text—in our case, this is Vote for the best design here.
- In the Choice Text field, ask the question based on which you want the students to cast a vote.
- Leave the Limit field as it is if you don’t mind any number of students casting a vote for any option available. Change it to enable, if you only want a certain number of people to vote for a particular choice. We shall leave the Limit block as it is, but we shall inform the students that they can’t vote for themselves.
- In the Choice block, type in the options (a minimum of two) you want the students to be able to cast their vote for. Clicking on Add more fields will provide you with more choice boxes. We will need one field for each member of the class, for this activity.
- Use the Restrict answering to this time period option to decide when to open and close your Choice—or have it always available.
- Miscellaneous settings: For our activity, we need to set Display Mode to Vertical set and Publish Results to Do Not Publish. The following table explains what the settings mean, so you can use them on other occasions.
What it is
Why use it
Lets you have your buttons go across or down the screen
Use Vertically if you have many options to avoid stretching your screen
Decide if and when you want students to see what others have put
Choose Do not publish if you want them to tell you their progress privately; if you’re doing a class survey, choose, for example, Always show results
Privacy of Results
Lets you choose whether to show names or not
Are the results more important than who voted for what? Some students might be wary of responding if they think their names will be shown
Allow choice to be updated
Lets them change their mind-but they can still vote only once.
Useful, if you are using this to assess progress over a period of time.
Show column for unanswered
Sets up a column showing those who haven’t yet responded
A clear visual way of knowing who hasn’t done the task
- For now, you can ignore the Common Module Settings option, and just click on Save and return to course.
What just happened?
We’ve set up an area, on our course page, where the students can choose their favorite designs from a number of options, by clicking on the desired option button. On the screen, you will be able to see an icon (usually, a question mark) and some text next to it. If you click on the text next to the icon, the following information will appear:
The students will click on the option button placed next to their choice—in our case, the name of the classmate whose design they prefer.
Finding out the students’ choice
- Access the Choice option and click on the words View *** responses on the upper right of the screen. The *** will be the number of students who have voted already.
- You will get a chart displaying the choices of the students. In my Moodle course, as shown in the following screenshot, nobody has voted yet—so they need a gentle nudge!
Remember that we have set up this activity so that our students cannot see the results, in order to avoid peer pressure or bullying. However, we can see the results. Thus, if Mickey votes for himself (even after having been told not to) we will spot it and can reprimand him.
Have a go hero-getting the class to give us feedback
After we’ve gone through all of the effort to set up our project on Moodle, it would be nice to know how well it was received. Why not go off now and set up another Choice option, where the question asks how much did you enjoy planning and designing the campsite? You could give them three simple responses (displayed horizontally) as:
- A lot
- It was OK
- Not very much.
Or you could be more specific, focusing on the individual activities and asking how much they feel they have benefited from, say, the wiki or the forum. Make sure it is set up, so that the students don’t see the results—that way they’re more likely to be truthful.
Why use Choice?
Here are a few other thoughts on Choice, based on my own experiences:
- It is a fast and simple method of gathering data for a class research project. I used this with a class of 13 year olds who had just returned from the summer break. I asked them to choose where they had been on vacation, giving them choices of our own country, several nearby countries in Europe, the United States of America, and a few more. I set up the choice, so that they could all see the answers when the time was up. I also set it up in such a way that the results were anonymous, to avoid any kind of uneasiness felt by those students who had stayed at home. The class then compared and contrasted the class results with Tourist Office statistics on the most popular tourist destinations.
- It offers a private way for students to evaluate and inform the teacher about their progress. Students might be too shy to tell you in person if they are struggling; they might be wary of being honest in the open voting methods that some teachers use (such as red, amber, or green traffic lights). However, if the students are aware of the fact that their classmates will not see their response, they are more likely to be honest with you.
- It acts as a way to involve the class in deciding the path that their learning will take. I first introduced my class of 11 year olds to rivers in Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia. Then, I offered the class, the chance to vote for the river that they wanted study in greater depth as part of their project. The majority opted for the Amazon—so the Amazon it was!
Announcing the winner
Well, you could give out the results in the classroom, of course! Alternatively, can encourage them to use Moodle by using the Compose a Webpage resource that we met in the previous article on Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle, and adding the information there.
Writing creatively in Moodle
Once a winner has been found, the next task for everyone is to create a cleverly-worded advertisement for this campsite, for which, you could use one of the names suggested in the glossary. This too can be done on Moodle. Why use Moodle and not their exercise books? The first reason is that it will save paper, the second reason is that the students enjoy working on the computer, and the third and final reason is that we can work at our leisure in school, at home, or in any room where there is an Internet connection. We’re not tied to carrying around a pile of heavy books. We don’t even need to manually hand-write the grades into our grade book. Moodle will put the grades that we give our students, into its grade book automatically and alphabetically. Moodle can also send our pupils an email telling them that we’ve graded their task, so that they can check their grades. This might be a different way of working from the one that you are used to, but do give it a try. It will take the pressure off your back and shoulders, if nothing else.
Time for action-setting up an online creative writing exercise
For our advert, we’ll use an Online text assignment.
- With editing turned on, select online text option, within Assignments.
- In the Assignment name field, enter something descriptive—our students will click here to get to the task.
- In the Description field, enter the instructions. Our screen will then appear as shown in the following screenshot:
If you need more space to type in, click on the icon on the far right of the bottom line of the HTML editor. This will enlarge the text box for you. Click it again when you’re done, to return to the editing area.
- In the Grade field, enter the total marks out of which you will score the students (for now, we’re sticking to a maximum of 100, but you can change this).
- Set a start and end date between which the students can send the work assigned to them, if you want.
- Leave the Prevent Late Submissions option as it is, unless you need to set a deadline by which the students must submit the assigned work.
- Set the Allow Resubmitting option to YES, if you want to let students redraft their work.
- Set the Email Alerts to teachers option to NO (unless you want 30 emails in your inbox!).
- Change the Comment inline option to YES, so that we can post a comment on the students work.
- Click on Save and return to course.
What just happened?
We’ve just explained to our class what we want them to do, and have also provided them with space in Moodle to do it. We used an Online Text assignment.
If we go up to the top of our course, where the editing button is, you’ll be able to see a very useful feature called Switch role to…. If we choose the Student option, it will allow us to see the tasks as the pupils will see them:
In this case, there’s a rather unfriendly command at the bottom of our assignment. Do you think that your students will know that they need to click here to get to their text box?
Why not ask your Moodle administrator to look at the Language editing settings and change these words to something more child-friendly—such as Click here to type your answer?