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How Assignments Look to a Student
I've logged out and then logged back in as student John Smith. As far as offline assignments are concerned, they are carried out in the real world. In that instance, Moodle is used to manage grades and notes. If I click on my Offline assignment, I just see a description of the assignment:
My second assignment requires students to upload a file. In the next section, we experience a little of what life is like as a Moodle student when we try uploading a project submission to Moodle.
Taking the Student's Point of View—Uploading a Project File
It is a very good idea to see what we are expecting our students to do when we ask them to upload their project work to us online. At the very least, when we ask students to upload their project work to Moodle, we need to know what we are talking about in case they have any questions. If you don't have a student login or you are still logged in as yourself and have asked a colleague to check that your assignment is working correctly, it's a good idea to take a good look over their shoulder while they are running through the following steps. Together, let's run though what a student must do to upload a file to us...
Time for Action – Uploading a File to an Assignment
I only have one computer to work from, so the first thing to do is for me to log out and log back in as my pretend student "John Smith". If you have the luxury of having two computers next to each other then you can log in as yourself on one and your pretend student on the other at the same time. You might have two different browsers (e.g. Firefox and Internet Explorer) installed on the same computer. If so you can log into one as a teacher and the other as a student. Don't try to log in as two different people on the same computer using the same browser—it doesn't work. Now that you are logged in as a student...
- Return to the course main page and click on the Advanced uploading of files assignment you added earlier. You will be presented with the following page:
- Click on the Browse... button now. The File upload dialog is displayed. This allows us to select a file to upload. You can choose any for now, just to prove the point. I've quickly created a text file using Notepad called example_submission.txt. Select the file you want to upload and press the Open button. The name of the file is now displayed in the box:
- Press the Upload this file button. You will now see the file listed in the Submission draft box:
- To add a note to go along with the submission, I can press the Edit button at the bottom of the page. Try leaving a note now. (If your assignment has been configured so that students are prevented from leaving a note, you won't have this option.)
- If I am happy that this is the final version of the project and I want to send it for marking, then I can press the Send for marking button at the bottom of the page. Pressing this stops me from uploading any more files:
- That's it. We're done:
The top half of the page is our description of the assignment. The second half allows us to upload a file and, because I configured the activity such that students could include comments with their submission, has an area allowing us to add a note. Students can browse for files and upload them in exactly the same way as we upload our teaching materials to the course files area. If they want to add a note, then they need to press on the Edit button (at the bottom of the previous screenshot).
Repeat this process for your other project files.
What Just Happened?
It was easy for us to convert our assignments to Moodle. Now, we've seen how easy it is for students to convert to using Moodle to hand in their assignment submissions. Now, we've actually got a piece of work to mark (albeit a pretend piece), I am ready to start marking.
Before moving on to the next section, make sure you are logged in as yourself rather than as a student.
Managing student grades and the paperwork associated with student submissions is one of my biggest headaches. By converting to Moodle, I can avoid all of these problems. Let's see how easy it is to mark assignments in Moodle.
Marking Offline Assignments
My Offline assignment, the poster project, is being carried out in the real world. Currently, I take a digital photograph of the poster and record my comments and grades on separate pieces of paper. Let's see how I can convert this to Moodle...
Time for Action – Mark an Offline Assignment
- From the course front page, click on your Offline assignment.
- Click on the No attempts have been made on this assignment/View 0 submitted assignments link in the top right-hand corner of the page. You are now taken to the Submissions page. I've only got one student enrolled on my course—the pretend student my admin put on my course for me—so this is what I see:
- To grade John Smith's work, I need to click on the Grade link, found in the Status column. The Feedback dialog is displayed:
- I can use this dialog to comment on a student's work. At this point, I could include a photograph of the poster in the comment, if I wanted to (or I could get the students to take photographs of their posters and then to upload the images as part of an online submission).
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What happens after you press Save changes? From the teacher's point of view, the View 0 submitted assignments link changes to View 1 submitted assignments. If you are a student then you may have been sent an email advising you that you have received feedback on your assignment (depending on how your Moodle has been set up).
What Just Happened?
We have seen how easy it is to convert to using Moodle to manage student grades and my comments on student work for my "offline" poster project. Remember that, as with anything else in Moodle, if you need to change a comment or even a grade later on then you can come back and make the relevant changes very easily.
Let's move on now to looking at our Advanced uploading of files assignment. The first issue to understand is how to handle student submissions from our teacher's point of view.
Handling Student Submissions
Return to your course front page and click on your Advanced uploading of files assignment. When enrolled as a student, I submitted an assignment to this activity. Now look for the link in the top right-hand corner of the page:
Click on the View 1 submitted assignments link. You are taken to the Submissions page for this assignment. You will see the submission we made previously, now listed:
In the Last modified column, click on the Notes link to display the comments we left when we made our submission (when we were logged in as a test student). You won't see this link if you have the Allow notes option turned off. If I click on example_submission.txt, I am asked if I want to open or save the file. Let's save it, make some comments and see how these are fed back to the student. How do we provide feedback on project submissions using Moodle?
Time for action – Providing feedback on student submissions
I'm going to add a comment to example_submission.txt and then save the file locally as example_submission_v2.txt. I'm then going to provide this slightly modified file back to the student by way of feedback on their work so far.
- Click on the Grade link in the status column, along from the student's name. The feedback dialog is displayed:
- In the bottom half of the Feedback dialog is an area allowing me to provide feedback (in the form of Response files) to the student. Also, listed are the files the student has uploaded (in this instance, just one). Recall that when I was logged in as a student, I pressed the Send for marking button. This was to confirm that I thought I had finished the assignment, and it also prevented me from uploading or modifying files. Because I don't think this particular student has actually finished I can press the Revert to draft button to allow the student to modify and submit files again. If it is displayed, press the Revert to draft button.
- Click on the Browse... button. The File Upload dialog is displayed. Use the dialog to select example_submission_v2.txt. Press the Open button.
- Press the Upload this file button. The file is now uploaded to Moodle:
- Enter your comment on this work in the Editor. When you are finished, press the Save changes button (immediately beneath the Editor).
- The Submissions page is updated accordingly and we're done:
What Just Happened?
Providing feedback on student submissions is easy when you convert projects and assignments to Moodle. We don't have to worry about sending out emails (depending on how Moodle is set up, students are sent an email advising them that you have provided some feedback) or worry about spreading viruses by using memory sticks. Everything is kept contained online within Moodle. But what does it look like for students when we provide feedback to them?
Confirming That Our Feedback Has Been Received
It is a good idea, at this stage, to log in as a student again, so we can experience what it is like to be a student receiving teacher feedback.
Logging back on to Moodle as a student and clicking on my Advanced uploading of files assignment, I see the following page:
My note is displayed, and the student has the opportunity to download the corrected file I uploaded.
Marking Student Submissions
The process of marking student submissions to an Advanced uploading of files activity is much the same as that for marking Offline activities. From the submissions page, click on the Grade link along from the student's name. The feedback dialog is displayed. For more details on setting the final grade, follow the instructions in Time for Action – Mark an Offline Assignment.
Reverting to Draft
What if the student has pressed the Send for marking button but I think there is more work that needs to be done? Recall that on the Feedback dialog, (see Time for Action – Providing Feedback on Student Submissions) we can press the Revert to draft button:
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About the Author :
A physicist by profession, Ian’s career has always focused primarily on communication and learning.
Fifteen years spent in private industry designing communication systems software eventually saw Ian concentrate on the development of accessibility and learning aids for blind, partially sighted, dyslexic and dyscalculic computer users - whilst also working part-time as a math and science tutor.
Teaching only part-time meant not spending as much time with his students as he would have wanted. This and his background in learning and communication technology
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