4 Moodle tips for teaching Winter Term courses

Posted on: December 6, 2013 | By: Dan Reis | Filed under: Instructional Technologies, Moodle, Teaching & Learning

Photo - Walking into a blizzardTeaching a course in Winter Term can be intense. Not only do you have less time to teach the class, you also have less time for the out-of-class work. Things like providing feedback and entering grades are two time-consuming aspects of any course that can become overwhelming in the condensed schedule of a Winter Term course. Below are a few ways Moodle can help with the challenge of entering grades and providing feedback to students.

As you’re aware – you don’t have time to waste in a Winter Term course to experiment with new features in Moodle. When trying a new function in Moodle, it’s recommended to test it before class starts. As always, we’re here to help if you run into any problems with these features.

Grade faster with rubrics and marking guides

Moodle’s built-in rubrics and marking guides make it easy to grade online assignments. Once the rubric is created in Moodle, grading student work can be as easy as clicking in the appropriate boxes. Because the rubric is incorporated into Moodle, students can see the criteria in which they’ll be assessed before they submit an assignment. After it’s graded, students can see how they did on each criterion. If you already use rubrics, give Moodle rubrics a try. Learn more about Moodle rubrics and marking guides.

Provide feedback more quickly

Good feedback is a valuable part of any assignment, but it can be very time consuming. Moodle has a few features that can speed up the process.

If you plan to leave detailed feedback on a student’s paper (using Microsoft Word’s track changes tool, for example), Moodle allows you to upload feedback files to multiple students at once. Instead of sending a Word file to each student, this sends the feedback file to every student. Learn more about uploading multiple feedback files.

If you want to provide more general feedback, require students to submit their assignment as a PDF or type it directly into Moodle. That way, you can view their assignment without having to download a copy of it on your computer. If they submit a PDF or text in Moodle, you’ll have a text box in Moodle to type in your feedback, which is then available for the student to view. The key to viewing a PDF without downloading it is to use joule Grader. Learn more about joule Grader.

Fewer submissions with group work

Putting students in groups is a quick way to reduce the amount of time you spend grading. Instead of 20 students handing in 20 assignments, you get 5 assignments from groups of 4. Moodle has a group submission feature that lets students edit and build off of each other’s work. Then, when you grade it, you can give the same grade and feedback to each member of the group. Or, you can choose to give individual members a separate grade and feedback. To do this, you’ll need to set up groups in Moodle, which you can create manually or have Moodle automatically assign. First, learn more about creating groups in Moodle. Then, learn more about group assignments in Moodle by watching the video below.

Manage peer feedback with Moodle

Sometimes feedback from peers can be just as instructive as your feedback. Workshop is Moodle’s traditional peer review tool and can automate distribution of papers between class members, as well as calculate grades based on peer markings and your marks. It streamlines the peer review process. Initially, it can be confusing to set up. However, it’s far easier to manage than emailing papers between students.  Learn more about Moodle’s workshop tool.

Another option is to use NowComment—a new tool in Moodle that lets students create and comment on each other’s work. Unlike Moodle’s Workshop, NowComment doesn’t allow students to grade each other’s papers or automatically distribute them to each other. However, it is easier to use. Learn more about NowComment.

What else is time consuming in Winter Term? Let us know in the comments and we’ll try to find a way Moodle can help.

Image from Flickr user Corey Templeton| Creative Commons BY-NC-ND

Dan Reis

Dan Reis

Dan Reis is an Instructional Technologist with Elon University’s Teaching and Learning Technologies.

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