Monday, August 27, 2012

How does the Topics Course Format remember the last state per user? Moodle Community to the rescue.

And how do you cause it to "forget" the last state? Here's how! Read on.

An expert and authority on Course Formats, Gareth J Barnard, replied.

Here's the hack code that does the job of stopping persistance in all Topics courses:

Edit 'format.php' in the  '/course/format/topics' folder and change the code from:

if ($topic != -1) {
   $displaysection = course_set_display($course->id, $topic);
} else {
   $displaysection = course_get_display($course->id);
if ($topic != -1) {
    $displaysection = $topic;
} else {
    $displaysection = 0;

And once again, thanks to the unsung heroes and kind Moodle Community, another stuck programmer is rescued and a teething programming problem is solved. Don't you just LOVE the Moodle Community?

Happy Moodling
Frankie Kam

Friday, August 24, 2012

Three ways to disable the "Show only one topic / Show all topics" icon in Moodle 1.9

Ever had this need?

In a topics-format course, the "Show only topic N" and "Show all topics" icons present a usability issue. Students who inadvertently click on them become confused when they lose sight of the the other blocks. It would be good if we could disable these icons, either at System or Course level, or perhaps through a new capability.
(John Isner from this Moodle tracker).

In this post I want to present FOUR ways of disabling the "Show only week N" icon

and its sibling, the "Show all weeks" icon.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tweak your forum so that it shows ALL posts of a specific user made in the same forum. For Moodle 1.9

I dare say that the forum activity in Moodle is a hotbed of ideas and student engagement. For students who love to share their ideas, the forum will be a frequently used resource. Today, I came across this interesting and very useful tweak by Tony Hursh that dates back to 2008. Tony's patch will make a teacher's life easier to track who posted what on a specific forum. This is especially useful in popular forums where there is much debate, views and repartee going back and forth among students.

Learning Outcome
At the end of this post you will gain access to the patch code that allows you to click a link and display all forum posts made by a specific student within one specific forum.

Reward students for forum posts of N number of words or more with the Verbosity mod for Moodle 1.9!

The Verbosity mod for Moodle 1.9 was written by Paweł Suwiński of Poland in January 2012. This is so far the only mod that I know that awards a Moodle Gradebook score to a student based on forum posts made by the student. 
Figure 0. I write, therefore I am.

Learning Outcome
  • At the end of this post, you will know how to use Verbosity to award scores based on the quantity of forum posts made by a student for a specific forum. 
  • You will also know how to customise Verbosity so that only the  student who puts in some effort to type words and paragraphs in a forum post will have a score. For example, students who write 200-word posts will, deservedly, be rewarded. On the other hand, students who type, for example, five word sentences will not have any score in their Moodle Gradebook. Well that's the gist of it.
Figure 1. A typical Moodle forum

Note: to know how to add a word count data 
to a forum post, see my other post here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Export Questions from the Moodle 1.9 Question Bank into Ms Word

Moodle2Word is a great Moodle plugin by Eoin Campbell. With it, you can import Ms Word tables as Moodle quiz questions. You can also export Moodle quizzes from the Question Bank into Ms Word format. Eoin has a fantastic website resource that, thanks to his hard work, gives you tons of tools to do import and export of Moodle <--> Ms Word quiz questions. He's written the plugin for versions 1.9 and 2.x for Moodle. All you need is to login as Guest.

At the end this post, you will be able to export Moodle question bank questions into this Ms Word format:

Like what you see? Read on!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Extend the functionality of OUWiki in Moodle 1.9.x by adding links to its interface

The BEST thing about Moodle is that it is Open Source and written in PHP. That means absolute heaven for the programmer within the Teacher or Educator. Ah! To be able to modify code to suit your needs. Pure joy indeed.

Figure 1. The OUWiki - A great collaboration tool!

One of the BEST collaboration tools in Moodle is the Wiki. In fact, the standard Moodle Wiki has been enhanced by the boffins at the Open University, United Kingdom and we are blessed with the OUWiki.  With the OUWiki, we have a Moodle resource that allows students to not only build a webpage asynchronously, but also to annotate their work for others to read. As Sam Marhall pointed out in this post:

"The big new feature is annotation which is intended to replace comments. Comments were a nice idea but didn't work with students - they put things in comments instead of editing the page as they should (either too timid or just didn't know which was appropriate), and it was also too complicated for them. So if you choose, you can get rid of 'em. Instead you can have annotation. Annotation lets the teacher add 'red pen' notes to a wiki page and lock it, so as to give feedback when marking a wiki page."

Lesson Objective
In this post, I want to show you how you can add more links into OUWiki's interface. Clicking on a link will bring you to your intended URL or open a new tab for the destination webpage. It's actually pretty easy.

Learning Outcomes
At the end of this post, you will be able to customise your OUWiki so that more hyperlinks can be added to it. You will be able to extend the functionality of your Wiki. You will be able to take your OUWiki from here:

Figure 2. The OUWiki menu items 
to here:

Figure 3. Adding a new menu hyperlink to the menu list - done!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Now you see it, now you don't - making the SpeakPipe icon selectively appear or disappear on your Moodle 1.9/2.x site.

Mashup: a creative combination or mixing of content from different sources. 

SpeakPipe is a cool Web application that allows the readers of your blog, website, Moodle site to send voice messages instead of text feedback.  If you are new to SpeakPipe, Madras Geek has written an excellent article on it here. Dorian Love also has an excellent post here on SpeakPipe.

I think that I have created a mashup of sorts by combining SpeakPipe embed code with Moodle pages. More so because I now know how to make the SpeakPipe icon appear or disappear based on the type of Moodle resource that is currently accessed by the user, or by the URL of a Moodle webpage.

Thanks to Howard Miller, I was introduced to the powerful yet humble me() function.After several hours of testing and Googling stuff, I finally got it working. Here's the code snippet of my Moodle theme's header.html file:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pipes of Peace for your website or blog - SpeakPipe-enable it today to enjoy voice recording feedback from surfers!

My blog is now SpeakPipe enabled!

For Moodle we are now spoilt for choice when it comes to voice recordings. We have Nanogong, Flash AudioRecorder, MP3 Quickie and now, PipeSpeak, the newest kid on the block.

Thanks to this excellent post on SpeakPipe by Dorian Love, my blog can now receive voice recordings from anyone! To find out how you can use this clever piece of technology, read on!

Have tablet will travel - doing Moodle work with my new-fangled 7-inch tablet

Last Friday I went for a Degree level programme moderation meeting.

For the first time, I made a decision to leave my trusty (and urgh...heavy) Year 2001 Compaq Presario 2800 Laptop at home.

In its place, I brought my 7 inch Travis S2D A10 Tablet PC. I bought it online from Groupon for at 57% the list price of RM600. So it cost me RM359. For the technical geeky spec, go here.

I also brought along with a whole slew of gadgets, wires and geeky devices that allowed me to surf the Net, type notes, access Ms Excel and finish the moderation work.

Here are six pics of the equipment that I brought with me to the Moderation Meeting on that day.

Now there's my new workstation! 
Don't laugh. There's method in me madness, I'm telling you.

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