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The lesson in Moodle might at first just appear to be a series of linked web pages. For the History teacher however, it is a wonderful opportunity to blend resources, including images, podcasts, and videos, with questions. Used creatively, the lesson captures a teacher's unique expertise and passion for a subject and preserves it electronically. Moodle lessons give the teacher the opportunity to create rich content that students will want to return to more than once in order to refresh their understanding or sharpen their focus on a particular topic. The lesson can be used to introduce topics, support independent learning, or act as an ideal revision tool.
In this article by John Mannion, author of History Teaching with Moodle 2, we will learn how to create a lesson in Moodle.
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(For more resources on Moodle, see here.)
Approaching the lesson
We plan to introduce our Year 7 History class to the idea of the Doomsday Book as a means by which William reinforced his control over the country. William was naturally curious about the country he had just conquered. He was particularly keen to find out how much it was worth. He despatched officials to every village with detailed questions to ask about the land that they worked on and the animals that they farmed with. He also sent soldiers who threatened to kill people who lied. All of the records from these village surveys were collated into the Doomsday Book. Many Saxons detested the process and the name of the book is derived from this attitude of loathing towards something they regarded as intrusive and unfair. William died before the process could be completed.
Clear lesson objectives can be stated at the start of the lesson.
Students would be expected to work through each page and answer questions identical to those found in the Quiz module.
The lesson gives students the opportunity to return to a page if the required level of understanding has not been achieved. The lesson questions help students to reach an understanding at their own pace.
The short video clips we intend to use will come from the excellent National Archive website. It has links to short sequences of approximately ninety seconds in which actors take on the role of villagers and commissioners and offer a variety of opinions about the nature and purpose of the survey that they are taking part in.
At the end of the lesson, we want the students to have an understanding of:
- The purpose of the Domesday Book
- How the information was compiled
- A variety of attitudes towards the whole process
Our starting point is to create a flow diagram that captures the routes a student might take through the lesson:
The students will see the set of objectives, a short introduction to the Doomsday Book, and a table of contents. They can select the videos in any order. When they have watched each video and answered the questions associated with the content they will be asked to write longer answers to a series of summative questions. These answers are marked individually by the teacher who thus gets a good overall idea of how well the students have absorbed the information. The assessment of these questions could easily include our essay outcomes marking scale. The lesson ends when the student has completed all of the answers. The lesson requires:
- A branch table (the table of contents).
- Four question pages based upon a common template.
- One end of branch page.
- A question page for the longer answers.
- An end of lesson page.
The lesson awards marks for the correct answers to questions on each page in much the same way as if they were part of a quiz. Since we are only adding one question per page the scores for these questions are of less significance than a student's answers to the essay questions at the end of the lesson. It is after all, these summative questions that allow the students to demonstrate their understanding of the content they have been working with. Moodle allows this work to be marked in exactly the same way as if it was an essay. This time it will be in the form of an online essay and will take up its place in the Gradebook. We are, therefore, not interested in a standard mark for the students' participation in the lesson and when we set the lesson up, this will become apparent through the choices we make.
Setting up a lesson
It is important to have a clear idea of the lesson structure before starting the creation of the lesson. We have used paper and pen to create a flow diagram. We know which images, videos, and text are needed on each page and have a clear idea of the formative and summative questions that will enable us to challenge our students and assess how well they have understood the significance of the Doomsday Book. We are now in a position to create the lesson:
- Enter the Year 7 History course and turn on editing.
- In Topic 1, select Add an Activity and click Lesson.
- In the Name section, enter an unambiguous name for the lesson as this is the text that students will click on to enter the lesson.
- Enter the values as shown in the following screenshot:
- In the General section, we do not want to impose a time limit on the lesson. We do need to state how many options there are likely to be on each question page. For multiple choice questions, there are usually four options.
- In the Grade section, we want the essay that they compose at the end of the lesson to be marked in the same way that other essays have been marked.
- In the Grade options, our preference is to avoid using the lesson questions as an assessment activity. We want it to be a practice lesson where students can work through the activities without needing to earn a score. We have turned off scoring. The students' final essay submission will be marked in line with our marking policy. Students can retake it as many times as they want to.
- In the Flow control section, we have clicked the Show advanced button to see all of the options available. We want students to be able to navigate the pages to check answers and go back to review answers if necessary. They can take the lesson as often as they want as we intend it to be used for revision purposes for a timed essay or in the summer examination. We have ignored the opportunity to add features such as menus and progress bars as we will be creating our own navigation system.
This section also concerns the look and feel of the pages if set to a slide show, an option we are not planning to use.
- We are planning to create a web link on each page rather than have students download files so we will not be using the Popup to file or web page option. If you are concerned about the stability of your Internet connection for the weblinks to videos you plan to show, there is an alternative option. This would involve downloading the files to your computer and converting them to .flv files. They can then be uploaded to the file picker in the usual way and a link can be created to each one using the Choose a file button shown here. Moodle's video player would play the videos and you would not be reliant on an unstable Internet connection to see the results.
- The Dependent on section allows further restrictions to be imposed that are not appropriate for this lesson. We do however, want to mark the essay that will be submitted in accordance with the custom marking scheme developed earlier in the course. The box in the Outcomes section must be checked.
- Clicking the Save and return to course button ensures that the newly created lesson, The Domesday Book, awaits in Topic 1.
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|Read more about this book|
(For more resources on Moodle, see here.)
Clicking on the link that has appeared in Topic 1 enables you to create a question page.
The key to the next section, adding content, is to do things in the correct order to ensure navigation works and does not require a great deal of editing and retesting. In this respect, we plan to:
- Create the four question pages with their content and their questions
- Create the content page which holds a table of contents
- Link the buttons on the contents page to the correct pages
- Add the end of branch page
- Ensure that the essay question links to the end of the lesson
Creating a Question page
Question pages require some content and a quiz question such as true/false, multiple choice, matching, short answer, essay, and so on. Again, it is an important and time saving option to know what you plan to put on each question page.
The question pages with video links will have the same format as in the following image.
We shall start with the Commissioner's page and ask a multiple choice question regarding the best description for the Commissioner's role in the survey.
- Click the link in Topic 1 'The Domesday Book'.
- Click the Add a Question Page option.
- Select the Multiple Choice option from the drop-down menu.
- Click the Add a question page button.
We have given the page a title that will later become a clickable link. We have introduced the commissioner's role briefly. If we wanted to introduce an image here, we would use the Insert image button in the HTML editor. In the center of the page, we have inserted a web link to the actual web page where the video can be found. Underneath the link to the video, we have entered the multiple choice question. Several boxes have appeared below the question and they need to be completed in much the same way as we would complete any multiple choice question in the quiz module. Provide alternative answers and make sure with the correct answer that you click on the next page option.
- Click Add a question page at the bottom of the page.
- Repeat steps 2–5 of the Create a Question page section for the three remaining videos, remembering to experiment with different question types for each question page. Use the HTML editor's Insert image button to insert an image into the page.
- The expanded Edit window should resemble the following screenshot where we have used a mixture of true/false and multiple choice questions.
Inserting a web link
Why are we using a web link on each question page? A web link takes the student straight to the relevant website where the videos are hosted. Assuming the Internet connection is good, students can click on the video clip format that suits their machine. It is sometimes, though not always, possible to embed a video clip if the website provides the necessary code. YouTube offers this facility although it is not available with our videos from the National Archives site. Conveniently, however, there is a transcript available from the site if the student cannot play the video clip for any reason.
Equally, if you have video clips that you wish to use yourself, they can be uploaded to the course using the same method explained earlier and the video can be played from the files area of the Moodle site. Thus, instead of a web link on the question page, there will be a hyperlink to a file which opens automatically in a separate window. It is a matter of experimenting and finding out which method works best for you and your students. Video is a vital element in the delivery of lessons. Consider the following examples of Moodle lessons where video and podcast resources are pivotal to the success of the lesson:
- Why did people fight in the Civil War? The video clips consist of interviews recorded with participants at a Civil War re-enactment event.
- What were the aims of the Big Three going into the Treaty of Versailles? Short podcasts outline the different aims and objectives of Wilson, Lloyd George, and Clemenceau as they prepared to formulate the peace treaty in 1919.
- Why did people vote for Hitler? A mixture of short video clips and podcasts present the reasoning of different individuals such as an unemployed teenager, an army veteran, and the owner of a small business.
Follow these instructions for creating web links to the videos available on the National Archive website.
- Highlight the text that will become the web link.
- For page two, this could be 'The Saxon Reeve speaks' and for page four it could be 'The Day of Judgement'.
- Click the Insert Web Link option on the toolbar (it is to the left of the symbol of a broken chain).
- In the dialog box, enter the URL of the web page. It can be copied and pasted directly from the address bar of the browser.
- Enter an appropriate title for the link.
- Set Target to New Window.
- Click Insert.
In this article we took a look at the lesson module. We learnt how to create a lesson in Moodle.
- What's New in Moodle 2.0 [Article]
- New Modules for Moodle 2 [Article]
- Securing a Moodle Instance [Article]
- Introduction to Moodle Modules [Article]
- Moodle: Authentication Methods [Article]
- Moodle 2.0 for Teaching 4-9 Year Olds Beginner's Guide [Book]
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Book Price: $39.99
About the Author :
John Mannion is from Manchester and has been a teacher in Primary and Secondary level education since September 1987, working in Manchester, Liverpool, and Madrid. He has worked at St. Gabriel's Independent Day School for Girls, Newbury, since January 1998. He is Head of ICT in Teaching & Learning and also teaches History.