How to Add Static Material to a Course in Moodle

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Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

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This book and eBook is a complete guide to successful learning and e-learning using Moodle

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by William Rice | September 2011 | Moodle Open Source

Static course materials are resources that students read but don't interact with, such as web pages, graphics, and Adobe Acrobat documents. This article teaches you how to add such resources to a course, and how to make the best use of them.

In this article by William Rice, author of Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development, we will cover:

  • Kinds of static course material that can be added
  • Adding links
  • Adding pages
  • Adding files for your students
  • Adding media
  • Organizing your course
  • Restricting access by date or score

 

(For more resources on Moodle, see here.)

 

Kinds of static course material that can be added

Static course material is added from the Add a resource drop-down menu. Using this menu, you can create:

  • Web pages
  • Links to anything on the Web
  • Files
  • A label that displays any text or image
  • Multimedia

 

Adding links

On your Moodle site, you can show content from anywhere on the Web by using a link. You can also link to files that you've uploaded into your course. By default, this content appears in a frame within your course. You can also choose to display it in a new window.

When using content from outside sites, you need to consider the legality and reliability of using the link. Is it legal to display the material on your Moodle site? Will the material still be there when your course is running? In this example, I've linked to an online resource from the BBC, which is a fairly reliable source:

Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

Remember that the bottom of the window displays Window Settings, so you can choose to display this resource in its own window. You can also set the size of the window. You may want to make it appear in a smaller window, so that it does not completely obscure the window of your Moodle site. This will make it clearer to the student that he or she has opened a new window.

To add a link to a resource on the Web:

  1. Log in to your course as a Teacher or Site Administrator.
  2. In the upper-right corner of the page, if you see a button that reads, Turn editing on, click on this button. If it reads Turn editing off, then you do not need to click on this button. (You will also find this button in the Settings menu on the leftmost side of the page.)
  3. From the Add a resource... drop-down menu, select URL.

    Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

  4. Moodle displays the Adding a new URL page.
  5. Enter a Name for the link. This is the name that people will see on the home page of your course.

    Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

  6. Enter a Description for the link. When the student sees the course's home page, they will see the Name and not the Description. However, whenever this resource is selected from the Navigation bar, the Description will be displayed.
    Here is a link as it appears on the home page of a course:

    Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

    Here is the same link, as it appears when selected from the Navigation bar:

    Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

  7. In the External URL field, enter the Web address for this link.
  8. From the Display drop-down menu, select the method that you want Moodle to use when displaying the linked page.
  9. Embed will insert the linked page into a Moodle page. Your students will see the Navigation bar, any blocks that you have added to the course and navigation links across the top of the page, just like when they view any other page in Moodle. The center of the page will be occupied by the linked page.
    Open will take the student away from your site, and open the linked page in the window that was occupied by Moodle.
    In pop-up will launch a new window, containing the linked page on top of the Moodle page.
    Automatic will make Moodle choose the best method for displaying the linked page.
  10. The checkboxes for Display URL name and Display URL description will affect the display of the page, only if Embed is chosen as the display method. If selected, the Name of the link will be displayed above the embedded page, and the Description will be displayed below the embedded page.
  11. Under Options, the ShowAdvanced button will display fields that allow you to set the size of the popup window. If you don't select In pop-up as the display method, these fields have no effect.
  12. Under Parameters, you can add parameters to the link. In a Web link, a parameter would add information about the course or student to the link. If you have Web programming experience, you might take advantage of this feature. For more about passing parameters in URLs, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Query_string.
  13. Under Common Module Settings, the Visible setting determines if this resource is visible to students. Teachers and site Administrators can always see the resource. Setting this to Hide will completely hide the resource. Teachers can hide some resources and activities at the beginning of a course, and reveal them as the course progresses.

    Show/Hide versus Restrict availability
    If you want a resource to be visible, but not available, then use the Restrict Availability settings further down on the page. Those settings enable you to have a resource's name and its description appear, but still make the resource unavailable. You might want to do this for resources that will be used later in a course, when you don't want the student to work ahead of the syllabus.

  14. The ID number field allows you to enter an identifier for this resource, which will appear in the Gradebook. If you export grades from the Gradebook and then import them into an external database, you might want the course ID number here to match the ID number that you use in that database.
  15. The Restrict Availability settings allow you to set two kinds of conditions that will control whether this resource is available to the student.
  16. The Accessible from and Accessible until settings enable you to set dates for when this resource will be available.
  17. The Grade condition setting allows you to specify the grade that a student must achieve in another Activity in this course, before being able to access this Resource.
  18. The setting for Before activity is available determines if the Resource will be visible while it is unavailable. If it is visible but unavailable, Moodle will display the conditions needed to make it available (achieve a grade, wait for a date, and so on.).
  19. Click on one of the Save buttons at the bottom of the page to save your work.

 

Adding pages

Under the Add a resource drop-down menu, select Page to add a Web page to a course. A link to the page that you create will appear on the course's home page.

Moodle's HTML editor

When you add a Page to your course, Moodle displays a Web page editor. This editor is based on an open source web page editor called TinyMCE. You can use this editor to compose a web page for your course. This page can contain almost anything that a web page outside of Moodle can contain.

Pasting text into a Moodle page

Many times, we prefer to write text in our favorite word processor instead of writing it in Moodle. Or we may find text that we can legally copy and paste into a Moodle page, somewhere else. Moodle's text editor does allow you to do this.

To paste text into a page, you can just use the appropriate keyboard shortcut. Try Ctrl + V for Windows PCs and Apple + V for Macintoshes. If you use this method, the format of the text will be preserved.

To paste plain text, without the format of the original text, click on the Paste as Plain Text icon, as shown below:

Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

When you paste text from a Microsoft Word document into a web page, it usually includes a lot of non-standard HTML code. This code doesn't work well in all browsers, and makes it more difficult to edit the HTML code in your page. Many advanced web page editors, such as AdobeDreamWeaver, have the ability to clean up Word HTML code. Moodle's web page editor can also clean up Word HTML code.

When pasting text that was copied from Word, use the Paste from Word icon, as shown in the image below. This will strip out most of Word's non-standard HTML code.

Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

 

Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development This book and eBook is a complete guide to successful learning and e-learning using Moodle
Published: August 2011
eBook Price: $26.99
Book Price: $44.99
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(For more resources on Moodle, see here.)

 

Adding images to a page

When you select an image to add to a Moodle page, you can choose images from those that you have already uploaded, or, you can upload a new image. A less obvious feature is the ability to link to a picture that is hosted on another website. For example, you could link to a picture hosted on a Flickr account, or one that appears on a non-profit educational website.

Inserting a linked picture into a Moodle Page

The following steps explain how to insert a linked image that is hosted in another location on the Web, into a Moodle page. If you want to insert an image file that you have on your computer, see To insert an image file in the next subsection.

  1. Find the image that you want to link to.
  2. In your browser, right-click on the image. A pop-up menu will appear. One of the options on this menu will enable you to copy the URL (the Web address) of the picture. For example, in Internet Explorer 8, you would select Properties and then copy the Address of the image. In Firefox 3+, you would select CopyImageLocation.
  3. Switch back to Moodle, where you are editing the Page.
  4. Click on the Page, so the insertion point is where you want the picture to appear.
  5. Click on the Insert Image icon, as shown in the example below:

    Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

  6. A pop-up window appears. In this window, paste the address of the image into the Image URL field. In the following screenshot, you can see the HTML editor window in the background. On top of that, you can see the Insert/edit image window. At the bottom of the screen is the original location of the image.

    Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

  7. If needed, fill out the fields under Appearance. In particular, you might want to resize the picture, because Moodle will, by default, display the picture at its original size.

Inserting an image file

Follow the steps below in order to insert an image file that you have on your computer. For example, if you have a .jpg or .png file.

  1. On the Moodle Page, position the insertion point where you want the image to appear.
  2. Click on the Insert Image icon, as shown in the example below:

    Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

  3. A pop-up window appears. In this window, click on the button labeled Find or upload an image.
  4. The File picker window is displayed. In this window, click on the Upload a file link.
  5. Click on the Browse... button.
  6. Locate the file on your computer, and select it.
  7. Click on the Open or OK button.
  8. Optionally, enter the a name that you want the file to have in Moodle.
  9. Click on the Upload this file button. The file is uploaded to your Moodle system.
  10. If needed, fill out the fields under Appearance. In particular, you might want to resize the picture, because Moodle will, by default, display the picture at its original size.
  11. Click on the Insert button. The picture is inserted into the page.

Composing in an HTML editor and uploading to Moodle

For long or complex HTML pages, or just for your own comfort, you might want to compose your web page in an HTML editor like DreamWeaver or FrontPage. This is especially true if you want to take advantage of these editors' ability to insert JavaScript timing, and other advanced features. How, then, do you get that page into your Moodle course? You can copy and paste the HTML code from your web page editor into the Moodle page editing window. To do this you would:

  1. Select the HTML view in your web page editor. For example, in DreamWeaver you would select View | Code, and in FrontPage you would select View | Reveal Codes.
  2. Select all of the HTML code, between the two body tags. That is, drag from just after the <body> tag near the top, to just before the </body> tag at the end. Copy the code by selecting menu option Edit | Copy or by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+C.
  3. Switch over to Moodle, and create the new web page.
  4. Display the HTML code by clicking on the icon.
  5. Paste the code into the page by pressing Ctrl+V.

A second method is to publish your web page to someplace outside of Moodle, and create a link to it from your course.

 

Adding files for your students to download

You can add files to a course, so that your students can download them onto their personal computers. Some examples of files you might want students to have are: forms, reading to complete before class, word processing files to edit, and more.

What happens when a student selects a file from the course?

When a student selects a file from your course, the student's computer will attempt to open that file. Moodle will only pass the file to the student's computer. For example, if it's a PDF file, your student's computer will try to use Adobe Acrobat to open the file. If it's a word processing file, your student's computer will attempt to use Word or some other word processor to open it.

You can override this behavior with a setting called Force download. When you choose that setting, your student's computer will not try to open the file. Instead, it will download the file and prompt the student to save it.

If you want the student to use a file immediately upon accessing the file, then indicate to Moodle that you want the file to open when the student selects it. If you want the student to save the file for future use, then use the Force download setting.

Adding a file to your course

  1. Log in to your course as a Teacher or Site Administrator.
  2. In the upper-right corner of the page, if you see a button that reads, Turn editing on, click on this button. If it reads Turn editing off, then you do not need to click on this button.
  3. From the Add a resource... drop-down menu, select File.
  4. Moodle displays the Adding a new URL page.
  5. Enter a Name for the file. This is the name that people will see on the home page of your course.
  6. Enter a Description for the file. When the student sees the course's home page, they will see the Name but not the Description. However, whenever this resource is selected from the Navigation bar, the Description will be displayed.
    The Site Administrator can turn off the requirement to add a Description for each file. By default, this requirement is turned on.
  7. Under Content, click on the Add... button. The File picker window displays.
  8. If the file already exists in the system, and you have access to it, you can find it under Server files, Recent files, or Private files. If you don't find the file under one of these areas, then click on Upload a file.
  9. Click on Browse... and select the file.
  10. In the Save as field, enter a name for this file.
  11. Click on Upload this file. The File picker window closes, and you are returned to the page where you edit the file. The options are as follows.
  12. From the Display drop-down menu, select the method that you want Moodle to use when displaying the file.
  13. Open and Embed will insert a link to the file into a Moodle page. Your students will see the Navigation Bar, any blocks that you have added to the course, and navigation links across the top of the page, just like when they view any other page in Moodle. The center of the page will have a link to the file.
    In pop-up will launch a new window on top of the Moodle page, containing a link to the file.
    Automatic will make Moodle choose the best method for displaying the linked page.
    Force download will force the file to be downloaded to your student's computer.
  14. The checkboxes for Display resource name and Display resource description will affect the display of the page, only if Embed is chosen as the display method. If selected, the Name of the file will be displayed above the link to the file, and the Description will be displayed below the link to the file.
  15. Under Options, the ShowAdvanced button will display fields that allow you to set the size of the pop-up window. If you don't select In pop-up as the display method, these fields have no effect.
  16. Under Common Module Settings, the Visible setting determines if this resource is visible to students. Teachers and Site Administrators can always see the resource. Setting this to Hide will completely hide the resource.

    Show/Hide versus Restrict availability
    If you want a resource to be visible, but not available, then use the Restrict Availability settings further down on the page. Those settings allow you to have a resource's name and its description appear, but still make the resource unavailable. You might want to do this for resources that will be used later in a course, when you don't want the student to work ahead of the syllabus.

  17. The ID number field allows you to enter an identifier for this resource, which will appear in the Gradebook. If you export grades from the Gradebook and then import them into an external database, you might want the course ID number here to match the ID number that you use in that database.
  18. The Restrict Availability settings allow you to set two kinds of conditions that will control whether this resource is available to the student.
  19. The Accessible from and Accessible until settings allow you to set dates for when this resource is available.
    The Grade condition setting allows you to specify the grade that a student must achieve in another Activity in this course, before being able to access this Resource.
  20. The setting for Before activity is available determines if the Resource will be visible while it is unavailable. If it is visible but unavailable, Moodle will display the conditions needed to make it available (achieve a grade, wait for a date, and so on.).
  21. Click one of the Save buttons at the bottom of the page to save your work.

 

Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development This book and eBook is a complete guide to successful learning and e-learning using Moodle
Published: August 2011
eBook Price: $26.99
Book Price: $44.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

 

(For more resources on Moodle, see here.)

 

Adding media (video and audio)

If you want to add video or audio to your course, you have two choices. First, you can add it as a file. If you do that, when the student selects the file, one of two things will happen. Either the media file will be downloaded to the student's computer, and played by the software on the student's computer, or Moodle will try to play that file with its built-in media player. If multimedia plugins are enabled under Site Administration | Plugins, then Moodle will try to play the file in its built-in media player. If multimedia plugins are not enabled, then the file will be played using whatever media player is available on the student's computer (such as Windows Media Player or Quicktime).

Second, you can embed the media on a Moodle Page (see the section on Adding pages). That will cause the media to be played on the web page. By default, the media will be played using Moodle's built-in media player.

Adding video or audio to a page

Follow the steps below in order to add a video, audio, or applet to a Moodle Page. You must be in possession of the file that you are adding. That is, the file must be on your computer, and not on another website.

  1. On the Moodle Page, position the insertion point where you want the media to appear.
  2. Click on the Insert Media icon, as shown in the example below:

    Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

  3. A pop-up window appears. In this window, click the button labeled Find or upload a sound, video, or applet.
  4. The File picker window displays. In this window, click on the Upload a file link.
  5. Click on the Browse... button.
  6. Locate the file on your computer, and select it.
  7. Click on the Open or OK button.
  8. Optionally, give the file a name that you want the file to have in Moodle.
  9. Click on the Upload this file button. The file is uploaded to your Moodle system.
  10. If needed, fill out the fields under Appearance. In particular, you might want to resize the picture, because Moodle will, by default, display the picture at its original size.
  11. Click on the Insert button. The media is inserted into the page.

To embed a video on a page:

  1. Find the media that you want to link to. For example, you might find a video on Vimeo.com, or Flickr.com, that you can use.
  2. Check the license for the material, to ensure that you have the right to use it as you intend.
  3. Somewhere on the page, you will see a button or link that will give you the HTML code to embed the video, as shown in the example below:

    Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

  4. Copy the code for embedding the video.
  5. Switch back to Moodle, where you are editing the Page.
  6. On the Moodle Page, position the insertion point where you want the media to appear.
  7. Click on the Edit HTML icon:

    Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

  8. The HTML Source Editor is displayed. In this window, paste the code that you copied from the video sharing site.

    Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

  9. At the bottom of the editor window, click on the Update button.
  10. You are returned to the editing page. Continue editing, and then save your work when you are finished.

 

Organizing your course

The main tools for organizing a course in Moodle are Topics and Labels. In this section, we'll look at how to use them, and how to move material around on the course page.

Name your Topics

In a course that uses the Topics format, your Topics are automatically numbered. You might also want to name your topics, and add a description to them.

To add a name and description to a Topic

  1. Log in to your course as a Teacher or Site Administrator.
  2. In the upper-right corner of the page, if you see a button that reads, Turn editing on, click on this button. If it reads Turn editing off, then you do not need to click on this button.
  3. Next to the Topic's number, and then click the Edit button:

    Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

  4. The Summary page for your Topic is displayed. You must uncheck the checkbox for Use default section name. If there is a checkbox in this field, then you cannot edit the name or description of the Topic.
  5. In the Section name field, enter the name for your Topic.
  6. In the Summary field, enter a description for your Topic. This is a full-featured Web page editor, so you can enter text, graphics, and media.
  7. Save your work. You will be returned to the course home page. The Topic's name and summary are displayed.

Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

Rearrange (move) items on the course home page

As you build your course, you will be adding Resources and Activities to the course page. Moodle allows you to easily reposition these items. It's so easy to reposition them that I recommend that you don't even worry about getting them in the right place as you are creating them. Just forge ahead, create them, and then rearrange them later.

Rearranging items on the course page:

  1. Log in to your course as a Teacher or Site Administrator.
  2. In the upper-right corner of the page, if you see a button that reads, Turn editing on, click on this button. If it reads Turn editing off, then you do not need to click on this button.
  3. Next to the item that you want to move, place the mouse pointer over the crosshairs icon:

    Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

  4. Drag the item to where you want it on the course page, and drop it.

You can also drag-and-drop entire Topics, if your browser has Ajax-enabled drag. You'll know you can do this if you see a crosshairs icon next to the Topic. Just click on the crosshairs icon and then drop it where you want the Topic to go.

Provide directions and organization through labels

Topic and Weekly courses are organized into sections. Labels can help you to organize material within a section, giving you another level of organization. A label can have any amount text, an image, or other content that you can put on a web page. It is essentially an HTML document. However, just because a label can handle any HTML content, you don't want to go overboard and create entire web pages in a label. A label's main purpose is to add organization to a course's Home Page. In the following screenshot you can see that the WildPlants course uses labels to organize course resources. The horizontal lines and Jump to a topic, Group Activities, and Before You Start the Course: Do These Activities headlines are labels:

Moodle 2.0 E-Learning Course Development

In our example, the course creators used text labels to organize the course content. A label can also hold a graphic. Adding a graphic to the beginning of each topic is a good way to add visual interest to a course. Also, a label can consist of a large amount of text. You can introduce activities by using a paragraph-long label. In the preceding screenshot, perhaps a sentence explaining each activity would help the student understand the course flow. That can be added by using a label. Make creative use of labels for organization, interest, and information.

To add a Label to the course's home page:

  1. Log in to your course as a Teacher or Site Administrator.
  2. In the upper-right corner of the page, if you see a button that reads, Turn editing on, click on this button. If it reads Turn editing off, then you do not need to click on this button.
  3. From the Add a resource drop-down menu, select Label.
  4. The Adding a new Label page is displayed. In the Label text field, you can enter anything that can appear on a Web page: text, graphics, media, and so on.
  5. Save your work, and then return to the course home page.

 

Restricting access by date or score (restrict availability setting)

Moodle allows you to restrict access to an item, by date or by score. That is, you can make the item available only during specific dates, and/or only when the student has achieved a specific score on some specific activities).

This feature is turned on by default. If it's not enabled on your site, you will need to ask your Site Administrator to enable it for you.

You will find the Restrict Availability settings at the bottom of the page, when you are editing a Resource or Activity.

The Restrict Availability settings allow you to set two kinds of conditions that will control whether this resource is available to the student.

The Accessible from and Accessible until settings allow you to set dates for when this resource is available.

The Grade condition setting allows you to specify the grade that a student must achieve in another Activity in this course, before being able to access this Resource.

The setting for Before activity is available determines if the Resource will be visible while it is unavailable. If it is visible but unavailable, Moodle will display the conditions needed to make it available (achieve a grade, wait for a date, and so on).

Summary

Static course materials (text pages, web pages, links, files, and labels) form the core of most online courses. Most student/teacher interaction will be about something that the student has read or viewed. Adding static material first gives you a chance to think about how the material will be discussed and used.


Further resources on this subject:


About the Author :


William Rice

William Rice is an e-learning professional who lives, works, and plays in New York City. He is the author of books on Moodle, Blackboard, Magento, and software training. He especially enjoys building e-learning solutions for small and mid-sized businesses. His greatest professional satisfaction is when one of his courses enables students to do something that makes their work easier and more productive.

His indoor hobbies include writing books and spending way too much time reading slashdot.org. His outdoor hobbies include practicing archery within sight of JFK Airport, and trying to keep up with his sons on the playground.

William is fascinated by the relationship between technology and society: how we create our tools, and how our tools in turn shape us. He is married to an incredible woman who encourages his writing pursuits, and has two amazing sons.

You can reach William through his website at http://williamrice.com

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