Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

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Effective e-learning for younger students using Moodle as your Classroom Assistant

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by Mary Cooch | March 2009 | e-Learning Moodle Open Source

In this article by Mary Cooch, we will learn how to save energy. Not only our own, but the world's too! Moodle's main attraction, to many teachers, is the fact that you can upload all of those worksheets that you hand out in class (and that your students lose). When you've done it once, they are there for as long as you need them—so you don't have to find and print them off the next time you do that topic, and fewer trees will be felled in the name of education!
In this article, we shall:

 

  • Put an information sheet about the River Thames into Moodle
  • Load a whole week's slideshows about River processes into Moodle in a neat folder
  • Make a click here type link (this is known as a hyperlink) to the River Thames web site
  • Create a worksheet about flooding by typing it straight into Moodle
  • Make our page a bit prettier now that we've got some real stuff on it

We're teaching the topic of Rivers and Flooding; so to start with, we'll need to introduce our class to some basic facts about rivers and how they work. We aren't going to generate any new stuff yet; we're just going to upload to Moodle what we have already produced in previous years.

Putting a worksheet on Moodle

The way Moodle works is that we must first upload our worksheet into the course file storage area. Then, in that central section of our course page, we make a link to the worksheet from some appropriately chosen words. Our students click on these words to get to the worksheet. We've got an introductory factsheet (done in Word) about the River Thames. Let's get it into Moodle:

Time for action-uploading a factsheet on to Moodle

We need to get the worksheet uploaded into Moodle. To get this done, we have to follow a few simple steps.

  1. Go to your course page and click on the Turn editing on button, as shown in the following screenshot:

    Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

  2. Don't worry about all of the new symbols (icons) that appear. In the section you want the worksheet to be displayed, so look for these two boxes:

    Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

  3. Click on the Add a resource box (I'll go through all its options when we have a recap, later).
  4. Select a link to a file or web site.
  5. In Name, type the text that you want the students to click on, and in Summary (if you want) add a short description. The following screenshot gives an example of this:

    Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

  6. Once you're done with the above steps, click on Choose or upload a file. This takes you to the course files storage area.

    Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

  7. Click on Make a folder, and in the dialog box that is displayed, choose a suitable name for the folder all your worksheets will be stored in (we'll use Worksheets).

    Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

  8. Click on Create.
  9. Click on the folder that you just created (It will be empty except for Parent Folder, which takes you back to the main course files).
  10. Click on Upload a file. You'll be prompted to browse your computer's hard drive for the worksheet.
  11. Find the worksheet, select it with your cursor and click Open. It will appear as shown in the following screenshot:

    Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

  12. Click Upload this file. Once the file has been uploaded, it will appear as shown in the following screenshot:

    Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

What just happened?

We just uploaded our first ever worksheet to Moodle. It's now in the course files. Next, we need to make a link on the page that students can click on to get to that worksheet.

I know what you're thinking! Thirteen steps, and there's still no sign of our River Thames worksheet on the course page in Moodle. Is it going to be this long-winded every time?

Don't worry! There are only two—at worst three—steps left . And although it seems to be a lot of effort the first time, it gets much quicker, as we move on. We are also trying to be organized from the start by putting our worksheets neatly into a folder, so we took a couple of extra steps that we won't have to do next time. The folder will already be there for us. Ofcourse, you can just click on Upload a file and get your worksheets straight into the course files without any sort of order, and they will display for your students just as well. But when you have a lot of worksheets loaded, it will become harder and harder to locate them unless you have a system.

Time for action-displaying our factsheet on our course page

To get the Moodle course started, we need to create a link that—when clicked, will get the course started, carrying on from where we left off :

  1. Click on the word Choose to the right of your worksheet. (We are choosing to put this on Moodle.)
  2. The River Thames worksheet now shows in the Location box, under Link to a file or web site. We are almost there!
  3. Scroll down and make sure that you have selected the New window option in theWindow box, as shown in the following screenshot:

    Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

  4. At the bottom of the screen, click on Save and return to course. Done!

The option Search for web page would take you to Google or another search engine to find a web site. You could put that web site into the location box instead, and it would make a clickable link for your students to follow.

What just happened?

Congratulations! You’ve now made a link to the factsheet about the River Thames that will get our Rivers and Flooding course started! By doing the final step above, we will get taken back to the course page where we'll see the words that we wrote in the Name box. They'll be in blue with a line underneath. This tells us it's a clickable link that will take us to the factsheet. If you can do that once, you can do it many times.

Have a go hero-putting a slideshow onto Moodle

It's important to go through the steps again, pretty quickly, so that you become familiar with them and are able to speed the process up. So why not take one of your slide shows (maybe done in PowerPoint) and upload that to Moodle?

Start by creating a folder called Slideshows, so that in future, it will be available for any slideshows that you upload. Or, if you're too tired, just upload another sheet into our Worksheets folder and display that.

 

Putting a week's worth of slideshows into Moodle

Now let's suppose that we have already prepared a week's worth of slideshows. Actually, I could say, a month's worth of worksheets, or a year's worth of exam papers. Basically, what we're going to do is upload several items, all at once. This is very useful because once you get used to uploading and displaying worksheets, you will very quickly start thinking about how tedious it would be, to put them on Moodle one at a time. Especially if you are studying ten major world rivers, and you have to go through all of those steps ten times. Well, you don't!

Let's use my River Processes slideshows as our example. I have them saved in a folder on My Computer (as opposed to being shoved at random in a drawer, obviously!). Under normal circumstances, Moodle won't let you upload whole folders just like that. You have to either compress or zip them first (that basically means squeeze it up a bit, so it slides into cyberspace more smoothly).

We first need to leave Moodle for a while and go to our own computer. I'm using Windows; for Macs, it will be slightly different.

Time for action-getting a whole folder of work into Moodle in one go

To view the slideshows, we need to upload the folder containing them from the hard drive of our computer into Moodle.

  1. Find the folder that you want to upload, right-click on it, and select Compressed (zipped) Folder within the Send To option.

    Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

  2. You'll get another folder with the same name, but in ZIP format.
  3. Go to your Moodle course page, and in the Administration box, click Files.

    Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

  4. We're in the course files storage area—this is another way in, if you ever need one! You can upload anything straight into here, and then provide a link to a file or web site.

  5. As we have done before, click on Upload and upload the zipped folder (it ends in .zip).
  6. Now click on Unzip, which is displayed to the right of your folder name (as shown in the following screenshot), and the folder will be restored to its normal size.

    Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

What just happened?

We put a bunch of slideshows about how rivers work into a folder on our computer. We then zipped the folder to make it slide into Moodle, and then when it was uploaded, we unzipped it to get it back to normal.

If you want to be organized, select the checkbox displayed to the left of the zipped folder, and select delete completely. We don't need the zipped folder now, as we have got the original folder back.

We now have two choices. Using the Link to a file or web site option in the Add a resource block, we can display each slideshow, in an orderly manner, in the list. We did this with our Thames factsheet, so we know how to do this.

Alternatively, we can simply display the folder and let the students open it to get to the slideshows.

We're going to opt for the second choice. Why? Bearing in mind about appearances being vital, it would look much neater on our course page if we had a dinky little briefcase icon. The student can click on the briefcase icon to see the list of slideshows, rather than scrolling down a long list on the page. Let us see how this is done:

Time for action-displaying a whole folder on Moodle

Let us upload the entire folder, which contains the related slideshows, onto Moodle. This will require us to perform only four steps:

  1. With editing turned on, click on Add a resource and choose Display a directory.
  2. In the Name field, type something meaningful for the students to click on and add a description in the Summary field, if you wish.
  3. Click on Display a directory and find the one that you want—for us, RiverProcesses.

    Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

  4. Scroll down, and click on Save and return to course.

What just happened?

We made a link to a week's worth of slideshows on our course page, instead of displaying them one at a time. If we looked at the outcome, instead of the icon of a slideshow, such as the PowerPoint icon, we get a folder icon. When the text next to it is clicked, the folder opens, and all of the slideshows inside can be viewed. It is much easier on the eye, when you go directly to the course page, than going through a long list of stuff .

Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

Making a 'click here' type link to the River Thames web site

Let's learn how to create a link that will lead us to the River Thames web site, or in fact to any web site. However, we're investigating the Thames at the moment, so this would be really helpful. Just imagine, how much simpler it would be for our students to be able to get to a site in one click, rather than type it by hand, spell it wrong, and have it not work. The way we will learn now is easy. In fact, it's so easy that you could do it yourself with only one hint from me.

Have a go hero-linking to a web site

Do you recollect that we uploaded our worksheet and used Link to a file or web site? We linked it to a file (our worksheet). Here, you just need to link to a web site, and everything else is just the same. When you get to the Link to a file or web site box, instead of clicking Choose or upload a file…, just type in, or copy and paste, the web site that you want to link to (making sure you include only one http://). Remember that we saw earlier, that if you click on Search for web page…, it will take you to Google or some other Search Engine web page to find you a web site that you'd like to link to.

The following screenshot shows how to link a file or web site into our Moodle course :

Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

That's it! Try it! Go back to your course page; click on the words that you specified as the Name for the web page link, and check whether it works. It should open the web page in a new window, so that once finished, our students can click on the X to close the site and will still have Moodle running in the background.

Recap—where do we stand now?

We have learnt a lot of interesting things so far. Lets just have a recap of the things that we have learned so far. We have learnt to:

  • Upload and display individual worksheets (as we've worked on the River Thames)
  • Upload and display whole folders of worksheets (as we did with the River Processes slideshows folder)
  • Make a click here type link to any web site that we want, so that our students will just need to click on this link to get to that web site

We're now going to have a break from filling up our course for a while, and take a step to another side. Our first venture into Moodle's features was the Link to a file or web site option, but there are many more yet to be investigated. Let's have a closer look at those Add a resource… options in the following screenshot, so that we know, where we are heading:

Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

The table below shows all of the Add a Resource… options. What are they, which is the one we need, and what can we safely ignore? You might recognize one or two already. We shall meet the others in a moment.

Moodle 1.9 for Teaching 7-14 Year Olds: Beginner's Guide Effective e-learning for younger students using Moodle as your Classroom Assistant
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Item

What it is

Do we need it?

Insert a label

A bit of white space to separate resources on the page

Yes-it improves the appearance of the course page

Compose a text page

Space to type straight into Moodle (and do more advanced stuff)

Could do, but we will use web page instead

Compose a web page

As above, but with more options

Yes-we can do our worksheets straight onto Moodle

Link to a file or web site

Shows our worksheet or a web site

Yes-we use it all the time

Display a directory

Shows a whole folder of work

Yes-makes the course page neater

Add an IMS content package

Place to upload special types of resources (advanced users)

No-but if you're curious, you can check out the web site, http://www.udutu.com

 

Creating a worksheet about flooding, directly in Moodle

Now, this is progress. At the start of the article, we had barely learned how to upload what we already had, and now we are thinking of typing straight into Moodle. But hold on—why should we bother? We're pretty proficient in MS Word, and with each upload we do, we take less time to do it.

Recollect the introduction, where I had said that this article was about saving energy—ours and the world's. Actually, it can also be about saving the children's energy, and even avoiding their frustration. If we go back to our course page and click on one of our worksheets, what happens? Depending on the browser that is being used—in this case Internet Explorer (IE)—we get a pop-up dialog box, as shown in the following screenshot:

Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

Here, having already clicked on the link, we are being asked to make a choice between three options. If we choose Open, we will have to wait for a while, for the file to open. So that's two clicks and a wait. For a ten-year old, or even younger, that's a long time to wait, and the novelty will soon wear off once the kid's done that half a dozen ti mes, once for each of our river's worksheets. Additionally, not all children have Microsoft Office installed, but they can all click a link on the Internet. Thus, can we not just have one click, and no wait?

Yes! If we type our worksheet straight into Moodle, as we're about to do. The next stage of our unit of work is to research the major floods that took place in the tiny Cornish village of Boscastle in 2004. Instead of wasting time typing a worksheet out and then uploading it, let's just do it in Moodle straight away, and cut out that middle step!

Time for action-typing our flooding worksheet straight into Moodle

We have already learned how to create worksheets and upload a folder containing them into Moodle. Let's now try to create the worksheets in Moodle, directly.

  1. With editing turned on, go to Add a resource, and click on Compose a web page.
  2. In the Name field, type the text that the students will have to click on to access the page. Then, scroll down to compose a web page, as shown in the following screenshot:

    Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

  3. Type in the instructions, as you would have done it in Microsoft Word, or a similar software application.
  4. Use the toolbar in the HTML editor to change the font size, color, and add images, according to your choice.
  5. Make sure that the Window option is set to New window.
  6. Click on Save and return to course.

Wasn't that easy? We got the outcome in just four steps, in comparison to the 17 steps that were needed when we first uploaded and displayed our River Thames worksheet. Our outcome of the Flooding worksheet will appear as shown in the following screenshot. I've included hyperlinks because we are allowed to do that in Moodle. It took me only a couple of minutes.

Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

Make sure that you save your work regularly! At the moment, Moodle doesn't automatically save your work. Until it starts doing that, it's best to do it yourself, so that you don't need to begin all over again if your Internet connection goes down.

What just happened?

We have now created our first worksheet directly in Moodle, without the need to create it offline first, and then upload it onto Moodle. If we go back to our course page and click on the words we used as the name for the link, we get to see the instructions in just one click. Students will thank you for this, and you will be glad that you didn't have to type it out first, then upload it, and finally link to it!

Don't think of a web page as something only geek web designers need to use. In Moodle, it is simply a space you can type into, just like each topic summary.

Online worksheets—some ideas to consider

I hope you can see that although being able to display a years' worth of worksheets and slideshows (which is a very powerful feature of Moodle) is useful, it can often be simpler and friendlier to create the task directly in Moodle. If you've already prepared a worksheet, for example in MS Word, you can also copy and paste it (although it doesn't always display exactly the same as your original).

If you are lucky enough to have a projector, a whiteboard, and an Internet connection in your room, why not present your instructions to your class on a web page in Moodle, instead of writing them by hand? You can then plan the course in advance and show it through your projector when you are ready.

If you have a homework task that does not involve the class having to download and take print outs of your worksheet, why not make that a web page?

If you can get your class into a computer room, why not have them view your web page on their own computers and follow the instructions there? These days, many schools are moving towards using cute little mini-books and laptops for each child. We could well see Moodle as the virtual online exercise book of the future! You could use the hyperlinking facility to great advantage if you want them to do some research on a particular topic and need to guide them to specific areas. You direct them to the most useful web sites, they click on your links, and are on their! This is particularly helpful for younger children who need clear direction rather than simply "go to Google and research…".

Be careful that you avoid the usage of plain black text and long instructions. Use different colors and brighten the page up with an image.

Making our page look prettier

Is this really important? Shouldn't we be getting on with all of the other activities that Moodle can offer? Yes we should, and we shall, but it is vital that we make our course page appeal to the students. I cannot stress this enough. Thou we may have already set it up, now that we've got topics with worksheets, folders, hyperlinks, and web pages that are starting to fill the screen space, it's worth looking at it again. We really need to ensure that our classes don't just take one look and run. Long pages of writing are sure to turn the users off . How do you think the users might react to a Moodle page that appears as shown in the following screenshot?

Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

Even though it looks like a nice picture, the arrangement of the worksheets doesn't seem very pleasant to the eyes. We can do two things to improve it:

  1. Put them into a folder and show only that folder (display a directory). Add a bit of white space between the worksheets to separate them, categorize them (and—of course–give them more descriptive titles rather than 'another river' and so on!)
  2. We already know how to do the first option (but we must be careful, once we get loads of content in our course, that we don't just have long lists of directories instead of individual worksheets). So let's try the second option—the white space. We'll be using the Label that we saw in that table I made earlier.

Time for action-improving the look of our course page

Currently, our course page doesn't look very pleasant to the eye. Let's make it a little more interesting.

  1. With editing turned on, go to Add a resource and choose Insert a label.
  2. Type in some text in order to separate or categorize a number of worksheets.

    Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

  3. Finally, click on Save and return to course.

What just happened?

We added a description of the worksheets in the provided white space known as Label. It seems to be very nice, but the description has appeared underneath the names of the rivers when we wanted it in between. Check out the icons next to each of the resources when editing is turned on. They all have an important role to play in editing the material on our page.

Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

One of the listed icons will enable us to move the label to where we want it (by default, every time you add a resource on a Moodle page, it goes under the previous one). Here is a table that briefly explains what each icon does. Look out for the one that will move our label up.

Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

Icon

What it is

Why do we need it?

1

Indents to the right

For subsections/subheadings

2

Moves up or down

Very useful (you might have  a drag/drop handlebar icon instead)

3

Editing text

Essential for setting up/altering resource

4

Delete

Deletes from page not course

5

Hides item (click to close the eye; click again to re-open)

Very useful for showing item only when you want to

Now, what we need is the arrows going up or down. You might have a handlebar icon on your Moodle instead. In this case, you gently drag-and-drop your item to where you want it.

Have a go hero-move the label

Just click on the up or down arrow next to the label. Don't panic if it vanishes—it's just hovering in cyberspace, waiting to be moved to your preferred location. Click on one of the empty boxes as shown in the following screenshot, and the label will move there.

Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

Incidentally, we aren't tied to moving stuff within a topic area. We can move from one topic section to another and, in fact, use the arrows to the right of each topic section to move entire topics up and down.

You can get a preview of how our course page will appear to the student. There's a useful box at the top of the screen, next to the editing button, called Switch role to. If you click on it and choose Student, it temporarily lets you see the page as the child would see it. Our latest effort would appear as shown in the following screenshot:

Adding Worksheets and Resources with Moodle

Summary

In this article, we've started assembling work for our classes in Moodle. We've looked at saving time and energy by:

  • Getting individual worksheets into Moodle for our students (so we don't have to keep printing them)
  • Getting whole folders of work into Moodle (instead of uploading them one at a time)
  • Making quick and easy links to web sites
  • Creating a worksheet from scratch in Moodle, instead of doing this offline and then uploading the worksheet

Additionally, we've also provided tips on improving the appearance of the course by:

  • Showing work in a folder instead of showing everything separately in a list
  • Breaking up the work into chunks by using a label
  • Moving items around the page
Moodle 1.9 for Teaching 7-14 Year Olds: Beginner's Guide Effective e-learning for younger students using Moodle as your Classroom Assistant
Published: March 2009
eBook Price: $23.99
Book Price: $39.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

About the Author :


Mary Cooch

Mary Cooch has taught Languages and Geography in the UK for over 20 years. She manages several websites, even more Moodles, and runs her own Moodle blog. A Moodle Certified Teacher, she now spends part of her working week travelling the country as a VLE trainer specializing in Moodle. She regularly promotes its benefits in Junior and High schools and has a deep understanding of what works best for younger students. Known online as the moodlefairy, Mary is a frequent contributor to the help forums of Moodle.org where she aims to enthuse others with her passion for this open source Virtual Learning Environment.

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