Moodle 2.0 First Look — Save 50%
Discover what's new in Moodle 2.0, how the new features work, and how it will impact you
In this article by Mary Cooch, Moodle 2.0 First Look, we will take a look at the drop-down menu, Add a resource, which appears on our course pages when we have the editing turned on. We will investigate how it has changed in Moodle 2.0
(For more resources on Moodle, see here.)
New look – new wording
Let's compare the former view of the Add a Resource drop-down menu with the new one. In the following screenshot, the left side shows us the Moodle 2.0 view and the right shows us the Moodle 1.9 view:
The first thing to notice is that the wording is simpler –no more confusion amongst teachers as to what constitutes a web page as opposed to a text page; no more explanation needed that Display a directory actually just means Show a folder of my resources.
The developers of Moodle 2.0 have taken onboard comments made by trainers and frequent users that certain terms were misunderstood by beginners. In the past, I myself have had to reassure newbies that even though they think they know nothing about web design, it is safe to select Compose a web page because doing so will simply bring up a text box where you can type your information or instructions straight into Moodle. Similarly, not everyone understands that a directory is just a fancy name for a folder that can house a number of your resources. This has now been made clearer. The selection Link to a file or web site has also been altered as these are now dealt with in two different ways. Let's take each option one at a time and study it in more depth.
Adding a file
The link File replaces the Moodle 1.9 Link to a file or web site option and is the place where, within your course, you would ordinarily upload and display files such as a Microsoft PowerPoint slideshow or a PDF resource. Selecting this from the drop-down gives us the editing screen, the top part of which is shown in the following screenshot:
In our How to Be Happy course, our teacher, Andy, is going to upload an Open Office (odt) file with a tip a day for staying cheerful in February, a somewhat grim month in the Northern Hemisphere. Here's how we do it:
- For Name, as in earlier versions of Moodle, type the text you wish students to click on to access the resource.
- For Description, type a description which we can later decide to display or not. An Admin can set it so you aren't required to type a description.
- Click Add to start uploading the document – the File Picker appears:
- If it's not offered by default, click Upload this file…
- Add the author name and license type
- Then, as with Moodle 19, click Browse… to locate the document and then Upload this file… to upload it.
- You'll be returned to the main editing screen where the document appears as a blue link.
As we scroll down, and with Advanced set to Show, we see other settings, some new, and some familiar from previous versions of Moodle but with extra functionality:
- Display: Choose how you want the file to appear and if you want the actual file name and/or its description to be shown.
- Advanced: With this enabled, you can decide the size of the pop up window and whether or not to filter the content
- Common Module settings: (as with Moodle 1.9) Decide whether to make the document visible or not and to set it for groups/groupings (which are now enabled by default)
- Restrict availability: This will only appear if the setting has been enabled in site administration and is a feature that lets you decide when and under what conditions the file may be accessed.
- Activity completion: This will only appear if you've enabled it in your course. It's a feature allowing students to check off what they have done or teachers to set activities to be automatically checked as complete under certain circumstances.
- Save: According to your preference, as with Moodle 1.9
Displaying a file
As we went through the settings to upload and show our February Beat The Blues tips, we noticed a drop-down option Display. It gives a variety of ways a file such as our .odt document can appear on the course page in Moodle 2.0. How they display will depend on their file type.
Display: Automatic Leave this as the default if you want Moodle to decide for you! In the case of Andy's slideshow, it's the traditional way of displaying an uploaded document, where once clicked on, it appears with a prompt box saying something like (depending on your browser) "do you want to open or save this file?"
Display: Embed This will show the Moodle page with heading, blocks, and footer. It will show the title/description of the item and display the file directly in the page as well, so is good for videos, flash animations and so on.
Display: Force download When a user clicks on the file, the web browser pops up with a "where do you want to save this file?" box.
Display: Open This offers no Moodle heading, blocks, footer or description; it just shows the file as it is.
Display: In pop-up This will cause the link to the file to appear in a pop up window before prompting you to open or download it. You can set the size of the pop up window on the Advanced settings page.
Site administration | plugins | Activity modules | file gives us two other display options if so desired. These are:
Display: In frame This will show the Moodle heading and the file description, with the file displayed in a resizable area below
Display: New window This is very much like 'in pop-up', but the new window is a full browser window, with menus and address bar, and so on
If we click to update our file once it has been uploaded, we can see a new area in the Settings block, giving us options to manage this uploaded resource. We've seen this before: when clicking to update an item, we can tweak it from here.
Let's take a look at these:
Here's where we update the details, display options, and so on (obviously!).
Locally assigned roles and Permissions
Moodle 1.9 gave us the facility to assign roles and permissions locally to an individual resource, so this is not new.
In Moodle 2.0 the site administrator has more control over who can assign which roles by default.
Check Permissions This is new however and enables to us be doubly certain our students are allowed (and not allowed!) to access what we want them to.
Let's try an example: suppose Andy hides his February tips until the end of January but that he would like one particular student, Emma, to be able to access them in advance of time. He will allow her to view the February document even though it is hidden. He needs to ensure she doesn't have the right to see any other of the hidden files until the appropriate time. Here's what to do:
- In Locally assigned roles, give Emma the teacher role. This will allow her to view hidden activities, and therefore, our hidden February tips.
- In Check permissions, select Emma and click Show this user's permissions.
This brings up a table showing what Emma's permissions are in this file. She can view hidden activities, and therefore, would be able to see the hidden February resource in advance of the other students.
We see that because Emma's been assigned locally the role of teacher in our February document she is allowed to view the hidden file—but as she is still a student in the course as a whole, she doesn't have this right elsewhere –so we are safe!
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(For more resources on Moodle, see here.)
Adding a folder
The next item in the Add a Resource drop-down is Folder, which replaces the confusingly named Display a Directory from earlier versions of Moodle. This is a very useful resource as it enables a number of files to be uploaded in one go, rather than individually, and it allows teachers to create a tidier looking course page by having their files showing inside a folder rather than in a long and rather tedious list. In our case, Andy is uploading a folder containing all his Happy Hints from 2009. Selecting the Folder option brings up the editing screen, the top section of which is shown in the following screenshot and which resembles that of the File option:
While Name and Description work in the same way as when we uploaded a file, the two options at the bottom deserve closer inspection:
Add is where we are about to click to upload our (zipped) folder to Moodle.
Create folder is where we would go to create a new folder if we wished. Clicking on it will give us the following box to enter our folder's name:
Uploading a folder to Moodle
Here's what we have to do in order to upload a whole folder rather than a single file:
- Click on Add. The File Picker appears as when we uploaded a single file
- From the Upload this file…, browse for and upload a resource as before. We need to upload our folder as a zipped folder, of course.
- The file link will appear in our editing screen for this resource. To the right of it is an icon -click it and it offers some choices:
- Select the Unzip option
- The unzipped and zipped folders will both appear then. Click the icon again to Delete the zipped version if you wish.
- Note you can also Rename it or Move it to a folder you have created.
- Save your folder in the usual way. It appears on the course page in the way we are familiar with, and when clicked on, the files appear:
We now have a third box that appears – the option to Download all the items listed below (as a zipped folder)
Adding an IMS content package
An IMS Content package is an international standard for simple learning content that is created by authoring software. It is useful if you have materials from a different LMS/VLE which you would like to reuse in Moodle. Moodle IMS CP can read it and show the content.
Previous versions of Moodle also had an option to upload an IMS Content package via the Add a resource drop-down menu, but the settings are slightly different now:
- Name and Description are entered in the usual way
- Click on Choose a file… to upload the IMS package
- The File Picker appears – from Upload a file, upload your IMS package
- It will display underneath the Choose a file… button.
Note its neat movable navigation bar when deployed:
Inserting a label
A label is basically an empty space on a Moodle course page which can be used for breaking up long lists of resources. Its advantage is that it will hold images, sound, video, or code in addition to simple text.
Moodle has had labels for many years and in Moodle 2.0 there is not much new about them. However, the addition of the new TinyMCE HTML editor makes it easier to insert more than just words. Andy's adding a Meditation podcast in the form of an mp3 sound file to a label in his How to Be Happy course. It is done as follows:
- Click on Label from the Add a resource drop down
- Type in the introductory text to the mp3 file
- Type and select some blank spaces and click the link icon in the editor:
- In the pop up that appears next, click the button to browse for the file as shown in the following screenshot:
- In the File Picker that appears next, from Upload this file… browse for and upload your mp3 file
- Click Insert and Save. The label displays the mp3 in its own player for the user easily to click on and hear:
So what's new? Other options for our label
Our mp3 podcast appears in its own player because Moodle's multimedia filters are enabled. In Moodle 1.9 and earlier, this was an all or nothing feature throughout the site. However, Moodle 2.0 now allows teachers in individual courses to switch on or switch off this functionality at your own will.
If we click to update the completed label, we get a label management section in the Settings block above our Course Administration:
Clicking on Filters presents us with the choice to turn on or off the multimedia filters that will display (or not display) Andy's mp3 podcast. This could be useful as sometimes you might need students to download a media file rather than have it play directly from your course page.
This same feature is available for the Page resource, which we'll take a look at now.
Moodle 2.0's Page replaces the Compose a web page and Compose a text page option of earlier versions of Moodles. It is a versatile resource for displaying static content in an easy to access way: teachers prefer it because it doesn't involve going through the (often) many steps to uploading a word-processed document and students prefer it because they can get to the learning materials with one click, rather than having to open or save a file for which they might not even have the right software.
Adding a page
As with the Label, the new Page resource in Moodle 2.0 uses the enhanced TinyMCE HTML editor. Clicking on it in the drop down brings up an editing screen, the top part of which is shown in the following screenshot Andy posting directions for reaching the venue for a face to face session coming up shortly:
- Name and Description are entered as with other resources; whether the description is displayed or not can be decided further on.
- The drop-down box defaulting to HTML format allows us to choose either HTML or plain text when we type into the editor, similar to the former Compose a text page resource.
- Scroll down and note how the wording is simplified: Page content is where we add the content, text, multimedia, or code
- Options gives us the choice of displaying the name and/or description of the page when a user clicks on it from our course.
- Show (as in Moodle 1.9) enables us during set up to specify if we wish this page to be visible yet or no. (It can quickly be changed later)
The final link in the Add a resource menu is called URL and replaces the link to a file or website option. That option in earlier versions of Moodles has been split into two, with File as we saw earlier being the place to go to upload and display documents created elsewhere, and URL here being the selection to show websites we wish our users to access. This again simplifies creating course content for those not overly techie as it makes it more obvious which to choose — providing they know what URL means, of course.
Adding a link to a website with URL
When we click on URL from the Add a resource drop down, we get the editing screen, the top part of which is shown in the following screenshot:
- The Name and Description fields are completed in the familiar way. We can decide further down whether to include them or not in the display.
- External URL is where we type in the website we wish our students to visit. If we don't know its name, we can open Google up in a new tab or window, locate it there and paste it in.
- Clicking Choose a link… would take us instead to the File Picker from where we could select a link from, say, YouTube or Flickr or any other repository our Moodle might have.
- Scroll down to Options as shown in the next screenshot:
- Display allows us to choose how the URL will appear. We can choose from the following:
- Automatic: The site appears, replacing the window or tab of our Moodle
- Embed: The site appears embedded in a Moodle page with the navigation bar on top and, if we chose it, the URL description underneath
- Open: The site appears, replacing the window or tab of our Moodle
- In Pop-up: The site appears in a new, popup window, keeping Moodle in the background. If this is selected, the Show Advanced settings page then permits us to define the size of the popup window.
- Display URL name and Display URL description are options we can choose to include when the site is displayed with the Embed option
In this article, we've taken a tour of the drop-down menu Add a resource which appears when we edit our Moodle course pages.
We compared its earlier incarnation with the new Moodle 2.0 version and found that
- File now replaces link to a file or website and is the normal location to upload individual resources such as word-processed documents or slideshows
- Folder is the new name for the display a directory option
- IMS Content package is still available here with aesthetic changes
- Label now uses the enhanced TinyMCE HTML editor
- Page combines the previous compose a text page and compose a webpage options
- URL replaces link to a file or website and is the normal location to display weblinks we wish our students to access
Additionally, we've discovered that Moodle 2.0 gives us more control over who sees which resources and which filters are applied to them.The Restrict Availability and Activity Completion settings, if enabled, can also help us control when students can access a resource based on date or having met certain criteria and allow us and them to track their progress through a course. Moodle's Quiz is an example of an activity module that has been significantly upgraded in Moodle 2.0.
- Moodle 1.9 Math [Book]
- Moodle Administration [Book]
- Moodle 1.9 for Teaching Special Education Children (5-10): Beginner's Guide [Book]
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About the Author :
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.