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Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

Over 60 simple and incredibly effective recipes for harnessing the power of the best Moodle modules to create effective online learning sites

  • Packed with recipes to help you get the most out of Moodle modules
  • Improve education outcomes by situating learning in a real-world context using Moodle
  • Organize your content and customize your courses
  • Reviews of the best Moodle modules—out of the available 600 modules
  • Installation and configuration guides
  • Written in a conversational and easy-to-follow manner      

Introduction

Moodle is an open source Learning Management System (LMS).

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

Image source: http://moodle.org/

The word Moodle is actually an acronym. The ‘M’ in Moodle stands for Modular and the modularity of Moodle has been one of the key aspects of its success. Being modular means you can:

  • Add modules to your Moodle instance
  • Selectively use the modules you need

M.O.O.D.L.E.
The acronym Moodle stands for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. It is modular because you can add and remove modules. The programming paradigm used to create Moodle code is Object-Oriented. It is dynamic because it can be used for information delivery and interactivity, in a changeable and flexible way. It is a learning environment designed for teaching at many levels.

Because Moodle is modular and open source, many people have created modules for Moodle, and many of those modules are available freely for you to use. At time of writing, there are over 600 modules that you can download from the Moodle Modules and plugins database. Some of these are popular, well designed, and well maintained modules. Others are ideas that didn’t seem to get off the ground. Some are contributed and maintained by large institutions, but most are contributed by individuals, often teachers themselves, who want to share what they have created.

If you have an idea for something you would like to do with Moodle, it’s possible that someone has had that idea before and has created and shared a module you can use. This article will show you how to download and test contributed Moodle modules, to see if they suit your needs.

Origins of Moodle
Moodle began in 1999 as postgraduate work of Martin Dougiamas, “out of frustration with the existing commercial software at the time”. Considering the widespread use of Moodle around the world (over 40,000 registered sites in over 200 countries), Martin is a very humble man. If you ever make it to a MoodleMoot and Martin is in attendance, be sure to introduce yourself.

A test server

If you only want to test modules, consider setting up your own basic web server, such as XAMPP (http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp.html) and installing Moodle from the Moodle Downloads page (http://download.moodle.org/). If you are a Windows or Mac user, you can even download and install Moodle packages where these two ingredients are already combined and ready to go.

Once installed, add a course or two. Create some dummy students to see how modules work within a course. Have a play around with the modules available—Moodle is quite hard to break—don’t be afraid to experiment.

Getting modules you can trust

The Moodle Modules and plugins database is filled with modules great and small. This article will help you to know how you can find modules yourself.

Getting ready

You may have an idea in mind, or you may just want to see what’s out there. You’ll need a web browser and an active Internet connection.

How to do it…

Point your browser to the Moodle Modules and plugins database. Refer http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?id=6009:

Image source: http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?id=6009

As you scroll down you will see list of modules that can be downloaded. At the bottom of the page is a Search facility:

Image source: http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?id=6009

You can also try an advanced search to get more specific about the following:

  • What type of module you want
  • What version of Moodle you have
  • A number of other features

The following is a search result for the term ‘progress’:

Image source: http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?id=6009

Each entry has a type, the version of Moodle that it is compatible with, and a brief description. Clicking on the name of the module will take you to a page with details about the module. This is the module’s ‘entry’:

Image source: http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?d=13&rid=2524&filter=1

On each entry page there is a wealth of information about the module. The following is a list of questions you will want to answer when determining if the module is worth testing.

  • Will it work with your version of Moodle?
  • Is documentation provided?
  • When was the module released and has there been activity (postings on the page below) since then?
  • Is the module author active in the discussion about the module?
  • Is the discussion positive (don’t be too discouraged by bug reports if the author is involved and reporting that bugs have been fixed)?
  • From discussion, can you tell if the module is widely used with a community of users behind it?
  • What is the rating of the module?

If you are happy with your answers to these questions, then you may have found a useful module.

Be wary of modules that do what you want, but are not supported; you may be wasting your time and putting the security of your system and the integrity your teaching at risk.

There’s more…

Here is some additional information that may help you on a module hunt.

Types of modules

In order to get a sense of how modules will work, you need to have an understanding of the distinction between different module types. The following table describes common module types. Amid the array of modules available, the majority are blocks and activity modules.

Activity moduleActivity modules deliver information or facilitate interactivity within a course. Links to activity modules are added on a course main page and the activity module itself appears on a new page when clicked. Examples in the core installation are ‘Forums’ and ‘Quizzes’.Assignment typeAssignment types are a specific type of activity module that focus on assessable work. They are all based on a common assignment framework and appear under ‘Assignments’ in the activities list. Examples in the core installation are ‘Advanced upload of files’ and ‘Online text’ assignments.BlockBlocks usually appear down each side of a course main page. They are usually passive, presenting specific information, and links to more information and activities. A block is a simpler type of module. Because they are easy to create, there are a large number of these in the Modules and Plugins database. Examples in the core installation are the ‘Calendar’ and ‘Online Users’ blocks.Course formatA course format allows the structure of a course main page to be changed to reflect the nature of the delivery of the course, for example, by schedule or by topic.FilterFilters allow targeted text appearing around a Moodle site to be replaced with other content, for example, equations, videos, or audio clips.IntegrationAn integration module allows Moodle to make use of systems outside the Moodle instance itself.Question typeWithin a quiz, question types can be added to enable different forms of questions to be asked.

Checking your version

If you are setting up your own Moodle instance for teaching or just for testing, take note of the version you are installing.

If you have access to the Site Administration interface (the Moodle site root page when logged in as an administrator), clicking on Notifi cations will show you the version number near the bottom, for example Moodle 1.9.8 (Build: 20100325). The first part of this is the Moodle version; this is what you need when searching through modules on the Modules and plugins database. The second part, labeled “Build” shows the date when the installed version was released in YYYYMMDD format. This version information reflects what is stored in the /version. php file.

If you are not the administrator of your system, consult the person who is. They should usually be able to tell you the version without looking it up.

Moodle 2.0
The next version of Moodle to follow version 1.9 has been “on the cards” for some time. The process of installing modules will not change in the new version, so most of the information in this book will still be valid. You will need to look for versions of modules ready for Moodle 2.0 as earlier versions will not work without adjustment. As modules are usually contributed by volunteers, there may be some waiting before this happens; the best way to encourage this re-development is to suggest an improvement for the module on the Moodle bug tracker system at http://tracker.moodle.org/.

See also

  • Adding modules to Moodle

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