Moodle 2 for Teaching 4-9 Year Olds Beginner's Guide

By Nicholas Freear
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  1. Getting Started

About this book

Moodle is a virtual learning environment that is being used in more and more schools worldwide. It is ideal for teaching a younger age group as interactive lessons enable children to learn quicker and with greater ease.

Moodle 2 for Teaching 4-9 Year Olds Beginner's Guide will help you to adapt your existing lesson plans to online Moodle courses and will give you ideas to create new activities, quizzes, and puzzles to make the learning process fun and interactive for young children.

The interactivity of Moodle means that it is perfect for teaching younger children as they can learn by watching, listening, and doing. Learn how to create activities and quizzes that are specially adapted for younger children and are quick and easy for you to incorporate in Moodle. Other highlights include spot-the-difference exercises, games, and embedded puzzles.

Publication date:
October 2011
Publisher
Packt
Pages
332
ISBN
9781849513289

 

Chapter 1. Getting Started

In this chapter we will start to explore Moodle, add our first course, and create our first learning activity, a quiz to help our class learn the alphabet. We will look at ways to enrich the activity with images and sound. Finally, we will discuss how to create a blended lesson incorporating the online activity.

In this chapter we will:

  • Log in to a Moodle website

  • Familiarize ourselves with the Moodle system

  • Introduce Moodle course formats

  • Create our first course and select a format

  • Learn about resource and activity modules

  • Create our first activity—a quiz

  • Find out about question types and add questions to the quiz

  • Start to write content and search online for images

  • Install the Audio Filter module

  • Bring it together—format the quiz to create audio prompts

  • Integrate the Moodle Quiz activity in your teaching

Note

This book is primarily written for Moodle 2, though the activities will work with Moodle 1.9 too. Where instructions vary the Moodle 2 instructions will generally come first.

So let's get on with it...

Introducing Moodle

Moodle is a virtual learning environment or learning management system (VLE / LMS), a type of website where you as a teacher can log in and create courses and activities for your pupils, and assign grades for quizzes, and other assessed activities. It is also a place where your pupils can collaborate online, for instance through a forum or a wiki. Your school may have its own installation of Moodle, or the schools in your area may share Moodle systems maintained by a commercial partner.

For this chapter and the ones that follow, you will need access to a pre-installed Moodle website, and a user name, and password for your account on the Moodle system. The account should give you the role of course creator, which will allow you to create and teach in Moodle courses. You will also need a computer with access to the Internet, speakers or headphones, and a friendly IT support person to install third-party modules on your Moodle system.

Without further ado we will launch into our first practical activity.

 

Introducing Moodle


Moodle is a virtual learning environment or learning management system (VLE / LMS), a type of website where you as a teacher can log in and create courses and activities for your pupils, and assign grades for quizzes, and other assessed activities. It is also a place where your pupils can collaborate online, for instance through a forum or a wiki. Your school may have its own installation of Moodle, or the schools in your area may share Moodle systems maintained by a commercial partner.

For this chapter and the ones that follow, you will need access to a pre-installed Moodle website, and a user name, and password for your account on the Moodle system. The account should give you the role of course creator, which will allow you to create and teach in Moodle courses. You will also need a computer with access to the Internet, speakers or headphones, and a friendly IT support person to install third-party modules on your Moodle system.

Without further ado we will launch into our first practical activity.

 

Time for action – logging in for the first time


Follow these steps to log in to and explore Moodle:

  1. 1. You will need to log in to the website in order to create activities for your students. Please go to the address of your school's Moodle website now in your browser.

  2. 2. You will probably see a page that looks something like the next screenshot.

  3. 3. Click on the Login link in the top right corner. If there is no Login link (because of the way the web site is configured), simply add login/ to the end of the address in your browser's address bar, for example http://your.school/moodle/login/—you can add this link as a bookmark in your browser.

  4. 4. You will be taken to a page like the one shown in the next screenshot. On the left is a login form. If you are using Moodle 1.9, there will be various instructions related to creating accounts on the right. Enter your username and password as shown and press the Login button:

  5. 5. If this is your first log in and the username and password are correct you may be taken to a page and asked to change your password. You will be taken back to the home page, which will now look something like the following screenshot. If there was a problem with your login you will see an error message on the page and for this you should talk to your IT support person.

What just happened?

We employed the user account created by our IT support person and logged in to our local Moodle installation. As you can see in the previous figure, because we are logged in, the content of the home page has changed. What you find will depend on the version of Moodle.

Moodle 2 pages can contain three columns, though only two are shown in the previous screenshot. The main content, which for this page is a list of My courses—currently empty, is in the centre. On the left are side-blocks titled Navigation and Settings. On the far left is a docked Calendar block, with the text, Calendar, rotated 90 degrees. This block would initially be to the right of the centre block, occupying the third column. Any side-block in Moodle 2 can be docked (if docking is enabled by the site administrator, which it is by default).

In Moodle 1, including version 1.9, things are a little more straightforward, though less flexible. There are three columns (or two, depending on how the site is configured). Again the main content, an empty list of My courses, occupies the centre. The default side-blocks you would see when you first log in as a teacher are Site Administration to the left and Calendar to the right. And the side-blocks cannot be docked.

Note

From now on in this book the descriptions and screenshots will concentrate on Moodle 2 for simplicity, with occasional references to Moodle 1.9 in brackets or as tips (asides). In this way, you will be able to work out what to do in Moodle 1.9.

A link to your user-profile and a logout link are in the top right of the page. If you do not see the Site administration item within the Settings block, or a Site administration side-block on the home page, your account may not have sufficient permissions to complete the activities in this chapter. Please ask your IT support person to make you a Course creator.

Expand the link Courses in the Site administration block, and click on Add/edit courses. This link takes you to the courses index page, which shows a list of course categories. There may only be one category, Miscellaneous. You can have as many or as few categories and sub-categories as you like in Moodle. Courses can be moved between categories at any time so don't worry unduly about categories at this stage.

We have checked that you have the sufficient privileges for the next step. Let's press on and create a course.

 

Creating your first Moodle course


Now we are ready to create our first course. A course is a way of grouping activities and resources. You can then give a cohort of pupils or students access to the activities and resources. There are administrative and student-management tools associated with a course.

 

Time for action – creating a course


These are the steps to follow to create a course in Moodle:

  1. 1. On the categories page click the Add a new course button. You will be presented with a large form, the top half of which is shown in the following screenshot. This form may be daunting at first, but once we have stepped through the important parts it will make sense. The top three fields are Category, Full name, and Short name.

  2. 2. You can leave the category as Miscellaneous enter a full name such as My First Course and a short name, for example MY101. As you travel further with Moodle you may want to agree with your colleagues how to use the short name systematically. You should also enter a meaningful summary. At this stage don't worry about the buttons above the summary text area.

  3. 3. Now choose the course Format from the drop-down menu—there are currently six course formats built in to Moodle:

    • The first one, SCORM (and LAMS in Moodle 1.9) can be ignored for now.

    • The Social course format is useful for things like a virtual staff "room" or notice board. This leaves us with the Topics, Weekly, and Weekly CSS/No tables formats.

    • The Topics format is ideal when you want to group items into topics, but don't have a fixed timetable in mind.

    • The Weekly format should be default when you do have a specific timetable (in Moodle 1.9 use the Weekly—CSS/No table format, which is an improvement of the Weekly format, for accessibility to those with disabilities).

    For our first course we'll use the Topics format. You can then choose the number of weeks/topics—I have set five. This can be altered later. Continue, following these steps:

  4. 4. You can leave the defaults for the other fields in the General section of the form.

  5. 5. Moving past Enrolments, Enrolment expiry notification, and Groups we come to Availability. If this installation of Moodle is already used in classes in your school you should set availability to This course is not available to students for now. This will effectively put your course in an unpublished mode, where it is not visible to pupils (it will be visible to your colleagues).

  6. 6. Scroll down to the end of the form and press Save changes.

Congratulations, you have created your first course in Moodle!

What just happened?

We created a course by entering a title and summary, and choosing a course format. And we hopefully found that this large form is not as complicated as it first seemed. We started exploring our new course.

In Moodle 2, after the final step above you will be taken to the course main page for your new empty course.

In Moodle 1.9, you will be taken to an intermediate page titled Assign roles in Course: MY101. At this point it is worth looking briefly at roles, which are common to Moodle 1.9 and 2. Then we will find out how to add course activities and content.

Exploring roles

Roles are the system Moodle uses to grant different types of user permissions—what they can and cannot do, in different contexts or parts of the site. The context in this case is your new course, and there are four default roles in this context:

  • Teachers can do anything in a course

  • Non-editing teachers can teach and assign grades but not edit the course or activities

  • Students as the name suggests can participate in a course, for example, by commenting in activities or answering quizzes

  • A Guest may be able to read but not write in the course

Another significant context in Moodle is the site as a whole. This has the additional roles of Course creator (you probably have this role in the site context) and Administrator, a role used by IT support personnel.

In the figure we just saw from Moodle 1.9, you should see a single user, yourself, assigned the Teacher role for the course. This is sufficient while you develop and use the course. Press the button labeled Click here to enter your course.

As you can see in the previous screenshot, the course is displayed with a three-column layout. An introductory section with a News forum and five empty topics are down the center of the screen. Navigation and Settings blocks are on the left, while Search forums, Latest News, Upcoming Events, and Recent Activity blocks are on the right of the page. (In Moodle 1.9 you will probably see the Participants, Search forums, and Administration blocks on the left.) The Settings block in Moodle 2 contains a number of links—for example, Course administration | Edit settings allows you to modify the options you set when you created the course.

Note

There are two useful items to note. At the top right of the page is a button labeled Turn editing on. This is a safety feature—during a lesson turn editing off, so that you don't mistakenly delete an activity. In Moodle 2 there is a Switch role to… item in the Settings block, below Course administration. This allows you to see what the course looks like if you are a pupil for example. In Moodle 1.9 there is a Switch role to… drop-down menu next to the Turn editing on button.

Press the Turn editing on button now.

  • As the figure below shows, when editing is turned on, icons appear under the title of each side block, and for each topic in the course outline

  • The arrow icons allow you to move or re-order the side-block or course topics and the eye icon allows you to temporarily hide a block or topic

  • A Blocks side block appears in the bottom right of the page

  • Add a resource… and Add an activity… drop-down menus appear within each topic

Now that we have a bare course, it is time to add an activity. We start with a quiz.

 

Creating a quiz


In the last section we created our first course. Now it's time to add the first activity, a quiz to help our pupils learn the alphabet. Note that while a quiz is frequently used for assessment we will start by concentrating on it as a creative tool for learning.

In the next figure we focus on the Add an activity drop-down menu for topic "1"—we will look at the resources later.

The activities available by default in Moodle are:

  • Assignments: There are four options:

    • Single file: Students upload a single file, for example multimedia or a Word document.

    • Advanced uploading : Students can optionally upload multiple files, comment next to their submissions, and teachers can provide their feedback as an uploaded file.

    • Online text: Students can type text directly into Moodle, with teachers providing inline feedback.

    • Offline activity: Teachers enter a summary and due date for an assignment separate from Moodle. The grade and comments can be recorded in Moodle.

  • Chat: A real-time (synchronous) online text conversation, somewhat similar to Yahoo! Messenger or Skype for instance.

  • Choice: Poll your students with a simple single-question, multiple choice quiz.

  • Database: Design a database with arbitrary fields or columns, that you and your class can add entries to, search and view. Example uses of database include collecting nature observations, photographs, and books.

  • Forum: A tool for pupils to discuss a topic.

  • Glossary: A list of word definitions.

  • Lesson: A flexible activity containing pages that can be presented in a linear order, or in an order dependent on the student's responses to questions.

  • Quiz: An activity with questions designed and set by the teacher, which may be assessed. Questions can be of different types, for example, free text and multiple-choice.

  • SCORM/AICC: An activity allowing the teacher to import re-usable learning objects that conform to the SCORM standards. SCORM stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model.

  • Survey: This module allows you to present one of the several pre-defined surveys about students' experiences of online learning.

  • Wiki: A tool for pupils to collaboratively create documents and resources.

  • Workshop: New in Moodle 2, this activity enables students to be graded on their work, and on an assessment of their peers' work.

Note

As is the case in many Moodle forms, there is a help link next to the add-activity menu (by default, a question mark icon). Press it and a popup window containing a brief summary of the activity types will be displayed.

 

Time for action – creating a quiz activity


We are going to use a Quiz as a fun, interactive means of learning the alphabet. Here's how:

  1. 1. In your new course, select Quiz from the drop-down menu and you will be taken to the form to add a quiz.

  2. 2. The only required field in the form is the quiz name; enter something like Alphabet Quiz.

  3. 3. As demonstrated in the figure below, you may want to enter an Introduction containing instructions for your pupils (as this activity will probably be used in class the written instructions will reinforce your verbal instructions).

  4. 4. Leave the defaults for the Open and Close the quiz fields, Time limit, Attempts allowed (Unlimited), and Grading method (Highest grade).

  5. 5. Ensure that the New page field is set to Every question. In Moodle 1.9 under Display, change Questions per page from Unlimited to 1.

  6. 6. Under Question behaviour, press the button on the right to Show Advanced options. Keep Adaptive mode set to Yes, and set the Apply penalties field to No.

  7. 7. Leave the remaining sections as you find them; scroll down and press Save and display at the bottom of the form. As with all Moodle forms, you will be able to edit this one later should you wish.

Quizzes are containers for Moodle questions—separate objects that can be reused, and what we have so far is an empty container. It's time to add some questions.

  1. 1. In Moodle 2, press the Add a question… button to display the dialog shown in the next screenshot. In Moodle 1.9 you will see a drop-down menu labeled Create a new question. Many types of questions can be created; we will use Multiple choice to reinforce the learning in our alphabet quiz.

  2. 2. Select Multiple choice, press Next (only in Moodle 2), and you will be taken to a new page and presented with the form shown below. You can set the category to Default for Alphabet Quiz, enter a name of Letter A, and we are ready to create our first rich content. Don't panic!

The text field under the Question text label is a rich or What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) editor, similar to a word processor like Microsoft Word or Open Office. It consists of a text area and two or three rows of controls and buttons to set the text structure and formatting; for example, a drop-down menu to set a heading or normal text, buttons to turn text into a hyperlink, insert an image, and so on. In Moodle 1.9, you will only see the rich-editor if you use the Internet Explorer or Firefox web browsers. In other browsers, for example Safari and Google Chrome, it is replaced with a simple text-area.

To format our text (more correctly, to structure it), follow these steps:

  1. 1. In the rich-editor, first type the letters A a (uppercase A, lowercase a). Press Enter for a new line, type the approximation for the sound ah, press enter again, and type an example word; I used apple.

  2. 2. Press Enter for a final line break and type a question (this is a quiz after all)—Which of the words below start with the letter ‘a'?

  3. 3. It is always useful to add headings to give your content and the page structure. Select the first line A a with your mouse and choose Heading 2 in the third drop-down menu from the left.

What just happened?

In this section we added our first activity, a quiz, to our course. We discovered that activities have some common properties like a name and introductory text. There are often properties that are specific to that type of activity; for example, how to order the questions in a quiz.

We found that a quiz can contain many different types of questions, and we went on to add a multiple-choice question to our empty quiz.

Finally, we explored the use of headings in the rich-editor to structure our text. You will not normally want to use Heading 1 (the largest), as this will be added automatically by Moodle near the top of the page, so you should generally start the hierarchy with a level 2 heading. Remember, we are adding structure, without worrying at this stage how the different elements will be styled or formatted—we'll address styling later.

We have a basic question, so now is the time to find some images to enhance the activity.

 

Inserting an image


Now, you will probably want to add a picture to liven up the page. There are a number of places to search for Open Content—text, images, video, and so on, that you can use and re-use under license. One example, shown in the next figure, is Wikimedia Commons, part of the Wikipedia family of sites (http://commons.wikimedia.org):

 

Time for action – inserting an image


Go to Wikimedia Commons now and search for apple. The page for apple contains various images; click on one that you like and the link will take you to an about page for the image. Right-click on the image and choose Copy image location from the context menu (Firefox browser). When you paste you will see a link, something like the following:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/Red_Delicious.jpg

Note

We can generate a link to a smaller image on Wikimedia by adding /thumb in the middle and a suffix like /NNNpx-NAME.EXTENSION, where px is the short form for the unit pixels. For example, to create an image that is 240 pixels wide (a reasonable size for an image to illustrate our quiz) enter the following in the address bar of your browser:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fb/Red_Delicious.jpg/240px-Red_Delicious.jpg.

These are the steps to add an image to our question:

  1. 1. In the Moodle editor, put your mouse cursor after the ah and press Enter to insert a new line.

  2. 2. Press the Insert Image button, on the bottom row of buttons. A new window will appear with the title Insert/edit image as shown in the next screenshot.

  3. 3. Paste the location you copied from Wikimedia Commons in the Image URL form-field, and add a short meaningful phrase for the Image description / Alternate text. I typed, A red delicious apple.

  4. 4. Press the Insert button; the window will close and you will see the image you chose in the Moodle editor.

At this stage it is instructive to view the Hyper-Text Markup Language (HTML) that has been created for you by the editor. Press the Edit HTML source button (labeled<> in Moodle 1.9). Most of the editor buttons are disabled, and you can see tags as they are called inside the angle brackets, for example<h2> which starts a level two heading,</h2> which ends it, and<br /> for line breaks. Below, I have highlighted the<img> tag, which contains the address or location of our image (and inserted line breaks and truncated the src attribute for clarity):

<h2> A a </h2>
<p> ah </p>

<p><img
alt="A red delicious apple."
src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/ ... -Red_Delicious.jpg"
/>
</p>
<p> apple </p>
<p> Which of the words below start with the letter " a "? </p>

Note

Downloading the example code

You can download the example code files for all Packt books you have purchased from your account at http://www.PacktPub.com. If you purchased this book elsewhere, you can visit http://www.PacktPub.com/support and register to have the files e-mailed directly to you.

It should be noted that by using this method, the image itself remains on the Wikimedia server—it is not copied to your Moodle system. Later, we will see an alternative way of doing things. We have made a useful digression into content editing for the Question text, but now we return to the job in hand—our alphabet quiz.

  1. 1. Continuing down the form, leave the Default question grade at 1 and adjust the Penalty factor to 0 (from 0.1)—as this is not a serious assessment, we probably don't want to penalize the pupils for getting the answer wrong the first time.

  2. 2. Leave General feedback empty and for Number the choices? choose No numbering.

  3. 3. Now we will give our pupils two possible answers. For Choice 1 enter a word beginning with A, for example ant, set the grade to 100 percent, and enter some feedback—I have put Well done! For Choice 2 I put an incorrect answer of bee, a grade of 5 percent, and some feedback—Woops, that's wrong. Please go back and try again.

  4. 4. That is it. Scroll down to the foot of the page and press the button Save changes. You will be returned to the page titled Editing Quiz, with the new question Letter A appearing in the question bank on the right.

  5. 5. On the left under Questions in this quiz, the message will read No questions have been added yet. Simply tick the box against the question Letter A in the bottom right and press the button Add to quiz. The question has been added and now appears on the left.

What just happened?

We searched for an image on Wikimedia Commons then inserted it into our Moodle question. We viewed the Hyper-Text Markup Language(HTML) code that the editor created for us. And then we completed the form to create the question.

We can preview the result of our work by finding and clicking the Preview link in the tab bar near the top of the quiz-editing interface.

Now you could repeat the process for the other 25 letters of the alphabet—each time, saving the Letter A template with a new name. Simple! But first, we should take a minute. You may have spotted the flaw in what we have done so far. No? Well consider this. Any pupils who would find the alphabet quiz useful will probably not be able to simply read all the example words, like apple, banana, and so on, or follow the feedback. So, what can we do to improve matters?

 

Installing a text filter


Adding text-to-speech functionality is one effective way to make our alphabet quiz more usable. We can achieve this courtesy of what is termed a Moodle filter, some computer code that transforms textual content that follows a particular pattern, and enhances it in some manner. Such a filter could use an external text-to-speech service, for instance Google Translate (http://translate.google.com/#en|en|Hello+world!—Look for the loudspeaker icon). Don't worry if this makes little sense yet. Our example should make things clearer.

 

Time for action – installing the SimpleSpeak filter


Unless you have administrator privileges on your Moodle installation, you will need the help of a friendly IT support person for this task. The installation follows these steps:

  1. 1. Visit the entry for the SimpleSpeak filter in the Moodle Plugins database, http://moodle.org/plugins/view.php?plugin=filter_simplespeak.

  2. 2. Review the documentation, and download the latest version of the SimpleSpeak filter code.

  3. 3. Unzip the code somewhere convenient, then use FTP, SSH software, or similar to copy the directory renamed to simplespeak to the filter directory on the server. For example, you may end up with /var/www/moodle/filter/simplespeak.

  4. 3. Unzip the code somewhere convenient, then use FTP, SSH software, or similar to copy the directory renamed to simplespeak to the filter directory on the server. For example, you may end up with /var/www/moodle/filter/simplespeak.

  5. 4. The site administrator can now log in to Moodle and go to the home page. In the Settings block press Side administration and click on the Plugins link (Modules in Moodle 1.9). It will expand to show links for different types of plugins including Filters.

  6. 5. Click on the Filters link, and follow the link to Manage filters.

  7. 6. SimpleSpeak text-to-speech should be visible in the list of disabled (grayed) filters near the bottom of the page. Choose On in place of Disabled in the first drop-down menu. (In Moodle 1.9, press the closed-eye icon next to the filter name—it will become an open-eye icon to indicate that it has been enabled.) Refer to the following screenshot.

  8. 7. Click on the Settings link on the same row and to the right of SimpleSpeak. In the form which appears enter the following for the Text to speech service URL, http://translate.google.com/translate_tts?q=!TEXT. Press the Save changes button.

The administrator or IT support person can now hand back to you.

What just happened?

We used the Modules and Plugins database at Moodle.org (http://moodle.org/modules). We or our IT support found the SimpleSpeak text-to-speech filter, which is released under the same GNU General Public License as Moodle. It was downloaded, installed, and then configured.

Note that the SimpleSpeak filter caches MP3 audio files produced by external services locally on disk, to reduce the load on those services and to improve performance.

Without further ado we will use our new filter plugin.

 

Using the filter


There are two ways of making the SimpleSpeak filter work in Moodle—one is entering raw HTML, which for our alphabet questions may be a bit complicated. Or we can use simpler square-bracket syntax. We'll start with the latter.

 

Time for action – using the SimpleSpeak filter


Carry out the following steps to use SimpleSpeak:

  1. 1. Go back to Moodle in your browser, and press the My First Course (MY101) link.

  2. 2. Press the Alphabet Quiz link and choose the Edit tab.

  3. 3. Under Questions in this quiz press the edit ("hand") icon against the Letter A question.

  4. 4. Scroll down to the question text. Use the rich-editor and replace the existing content with the following block of text:

    
    [Speak]
    ; Just a comment.
    letter = A
    sound = ah
    
    image = http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fb/ Red_Delicious.jpg/240px-Red_Delicious.jpg
    i
    alt = A red delicious apple
    word = apple
    phrase = Which of the words below start with the letter [em]a[/em]?
    [/Speak]
    
    

    What does this all mean?

    • The [Speak] and [/Speak] square-bracket tags indicate the start and end of some content we wish to speech-enable.

    • The next line starting; is a comment by (and for) the author—it will be ignored by Moodle and it won't be visible to students.

    • The remaining lines have the syntax keyword equals value.

    • letter = A will create a button labeled A, which when pressed will produce the audio Say the letter, A.

    • Similarly, sound = ah and word = apple will create buttons to speak Say the sound, ah and Say the word, apple.

    • phrase = Which of the words …? creates a button to speak the given phrase as is.

    • The [em] and [/em] square-bracket tags denote the start and end of some emphasized text—often rendered in italics.

    • Finally, image = http://… and alt = A red… create an embedded image with some alternative text. There should be no line-breaks in image = http://….

  5. 5. When you have entered the text in the editor scrolled to the bottom of the page, press Save changes again. Then click the Preview tab near the top of the page and you should see something like the figure below. The screenshot contains the image of a red delicious apple from Wikimedia Commons.

6. Try pressing the buttons with sound-icons and after a short pause you should hear speech.

What just happened?

We re-visited the alphabet question that we created previously. We used a square-bracket notation that was transformed by the SimpleSpeak filter into clickable buttons. Pressing these buttons resulted in synthesized speech.

There may be a slight time-lag before the speech is audible. The length of the pause depends on the speed of your Internet connection, among other factors.

Troubleshooting

If you don't see something like the previous screenshot there are a number of things to check:

  • If you don't see the image, check the URL (http://…) you entered, and test your Internet connection.

  • If you don't see the speak buttons, go back to editing the question. Are there any spaces between the square brackets and the keyword Speak? For example, the closing [/ Speak ]. Remove the spaces, save your question, and preview again.

  • Still problems? Go back to the editor and press the Edit/Toggle HTML source (<>) button. You should see the square brackets, key = value and line break tags, for example:

    [Speak] <br /> ; A comment. <br /> letter = A <br /> sound = ah <br /> ... [/Speak]
    
    • In the Toggle source view; if you don't see line-break tags<br />, then insert them as required. (In this view the text will appear all on one line as above—don't worry!)

    • If there are extra line-break tags, for example image = http://upload.wikimedia.org/ <br /> ... -Red_Delicious.jpg, then remove them.

    • If you see any other hair-pin braces between the [Speak] and [/Speak] tags, for instance<span style="font-style: italic;">some text</span>, remove them but keep the text, for example some text. Save the question and preview again.

  • If you don't hear speech when pressing a button with a sound-icon icon, ask your friendly IT support person to go to the filter settings page—they can check the speech-synthesis service.

  • Ask your IT support person to check that the filter is correctly installed. You may also like to ask a question on the support forums of Moodle.org (http://moodle.org).

So there we have it. An interactive alphabet quiz, which provides speech prompts. How can this quiz be combined with face-to-face teaching?

Incorporating the quiz in your teaching

Depending on your resources, you can split your class into pairs or groups of three or four, demonstrate how the quiz works, then allow the groups to practice individually. Each group will need a computer with speakers or headphones. As with many of the activities described in this book, smaller groups and individual learners can feel the benefits of self-paced learning. This is also an activity where you can ask pupils to practice with their parents.

Your class will learn important ICT skills, including following a process or workflow, and hand-eye coordination through using a mouse. And they will improve their verbal skills, and practice letter, sound, and word association.

The activity can be extended to allow the pupils to search for their own images to "complete" the quiz.

Note

Accessibility

Throughout the book we will be highlighting the benefits of the activities we create and how they are presented, to those with differing abilities and disabilities. The speech-enabled quiz in this chapter is "multi-modal". That is, it can be experienced through multiple senses, in this case, through sight and hearing. This is a benefit to, for example, pupils with dyslexia. The speech buttons can be operated via the keyboard as well as the mouse, for those with less manual dexterity.

Learn more about Web accessibility for online learning in Appendix A,Accessibility for Online Teaching.

Have a go hero

In the previous sections we used the SimpleSpeak filter to enrich the questions in our alphabet quiz. Where else in the quiz activity could you use the filter to create speech buttons?

Hint: you may be able to use the simpler [Speak] some text [/Speak] syntax.

Possible answer 1: You could add the speak tags [Speak] … [/Speak] to the feedback for each question. The feedback could also contain interesting facts. For example for X, a correct answer may be X-ray, and the feedback could be:

[Speak] Well done! [/Speak]
[Speak] Did you know? An [em]x-ray[/em] is often used to show the bones in the body. [/Speak]

This would result in two further speech buttons, as shown in the final screenshot below:

Answer 2: You could speech-enable the introductory text for the quiz. Go back to Moodle in your browser, and press the My First Course (MY101) link. Press the Update (pen) link next to our Alphabet quiz, and scroll down to the introduction text. Type [Speak] before the introduction and [/Speak] after. Remember to keep the text short—say one or two lines. Note that the [br/] tag can be used to provide a line-break in the text.

[Speak] This is a fun quiz to help you learn letters and words. [br/] Try to answer the question below each word. [/Speak]

Pop quiz

  1. 1. What course format would you use for a series of lessons with a clear timetable?

    a. Social

    b. Topics

    c. Weeks

  2. 2. What Moodle user-role did you need to add the activities to your course?

    a. Student

    b. Teacher

    c. Course creator

  3. 3. Which answer(s) best describe a Moodle quiz?

    a. An activity with pre-defined questions

    b. A container that is initially empty, and to which you can add many types of question

    c. A type of course

    d. An interactive activity that can also present snippets of content

  4. 4. What is the purpose of a filter in Moodle?

    a. To provide question types for a quiz

    b. To transform input text and HTML into useful output text and other elements

    c. To create a course format

 

Summary


In this chapter we learned a lot and made a great start on our journey with Moodle.

Specifically we learned how to:

  • Log in to Moodle

  • Create a course

  • Add a quiz activity with multiple choice questions to our course

  • Make the quiz more compelling with a speech synthesis filter

We also started to learn about course formats, searching for open content like images, and writing content in Moodle.

Now that we've learned about the quiz activity module it's time to cover Moodle resources for teaching math, which is the topic of the next chapter.

About the Author

  • Nicholas Freear

    Nicholas Freear got into software and educational technology through a series of happy accidents. During research for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Birmingham he was thrown in at the deep end, learning to program in C++, using the Windows API, and programming against the interface card for an early digital camera (a "frame grabber", since you ask). Bizarrely, this didn't put him off. In his next job, he was a programmer at a high-tech startup company helping to create products from voice recognition and speech synthesis software. However, the World Wide Web was calling. After a character-building stint as a self-employed developer and accessibility consultant, Nicholas joined the team that was working on The Open University's next generation e-learning environment. And so, he was introduced to Moodle and the open-source software community. Following several fruitful years, Nick joined the Institute of Educational Technology at The OU, where he got to talk to more academics, pursue his accessibility and usability interests, and work on many different education and research projects. He blogs (http://freear.org.uk), contributes to the Moodle community (http://moodle.org/user/view.php?id=93815), and likes to talk at workshops and conferences despite his stammer. When he's not trying to understand the mysteries of the Web, Nick likes to sing, cycle, listen to loud music, and learn about all things Chinese. Occasionally all at the same time.

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