Posts Tagged ‘collaborating’

What are best practices for recycling Moodle course teaching content? A running log

  1. Guiding Questions:
  2. I am in the process of creating Moodle assignments with instructors. I am inclined to tell them that this is best done now, before the term starts. I have met several instructors who seem to redo all their Moodle assignments and other content, for each term and each section, and who change Moodle courses on the fly, in the middle of the term, adding identical assignments to multiple sections. When I taught with the LMS (in Blackboard environments), the entire course (content) was “rolled over” between terms (and copied into sections), after subtracting student data. What are best practices in Moodle for reusing/recycling such course content, across terms, sections, and instructors
  3. Is it possible to get entire course+instructor combinations recycled centrally and automatically, whenever an instructor teaches a course again, from the archive of the last version of the course, sans student data?
  4. Or does each instructor, any time she reteaches a course, have to manually reimport all materials she wants to reuse from her old courses? So far, I have followed this page: (here is an example of using the import feature when adding assignments into multiple sections in the middle of the term: Can this be done before term start at least into one section, from which the other section is created by copying? What would be the cut-off date for that?
  5. Would instructors use the last live version of the course to go forward, like I did with Blackboard, or are instructors advised to develop all content in separate development courses, and selectively import content from there into live courses? Does each instructor have a development course by default? Is it possible/advisable for an instructor to have one development course per actual course she teaches (repeatedly)? Does access of instructors to past courses expire when they get archived, and when would that be?
  6. Finally, how could assignments be exchanged between instructors who teach the same courses? 
  7. Courses seem to be complex packages. Repackaging individual assignments from one generic development course into course packs while importing seems administrative overhead, unless there is a in-built support for packaging that allows to add course tags to content. On the other hand, courses need to be easily updateable: student data needs to be added and removed easily. Teacher content needs to be refined, possibly updated with some current materials each term.
  8. Exploration:
    1. files planning:
      1. When publishing files, I have been trying to restrict all information that needs regular updating (dates, fine tuning of assignments and grading) to the syllabus files which I upload every term. So that I can “roll over” the rest of the course, including its files. 
      2. observe the (max 64mb) file size limit in your Moodle courses
      3. You cannot use this procedure to share Kaltura videos, not even the ones a teacher made
    2. importing
      1. importing steps see here.
      2. To be seamless, source and target course need to have the same format (settings / topical, weekly or other). Otherwise, your exports from a weekly formatted course into a topically formatted course will get put into the topic number corresponding to the week # (which, if you have set to fewer topics than you had weeks, may effectively hide them. Not to worry, you can still retrieve them by adding topics to your course, then moving the assignments where you want them).
      3. backing up/restoring
        1. backing up see here 
        2. restoring see here
        3. more on backup/restore from the Moodle docs FAQ
        4. primary instructor can use assign roles to add other teachers to give them access to importing; better create an intermediate, not student-accessible Moodle course for sharing instead

A team calendar for work groups on Windows Live

I have been asked whether we can have a workgroup calendar to coordinate who is on campus when.

We can use the hale-interpreting ( and hale-translation groups in Windows Live for this (

Remember: Members only! You need to be a member of these groups to have access to their calendars. If you have not accepted my invitation email from a long time ago, you are not a member – and there is no point in digging that email out now, since it will have expired. However, you can go to either of the group’s home pages linked above and ask for being added. Then wait for the confirmation email response.

If you go to your calendar home page (, all events from all “calendars” that you have access to (in the time span which you chose as your default – I use week view) display be default in one and the same “calendar”.

A bit of terminology: Lemma “calendar”, meaning: (1) a web page which looks like a paper calendar. (2) a series of related events (E.g. the MGB-36 events belong in one such “calendar” (2) as they all take place in this room).

Windows Live puts/displays all “calendars” (2) you have access to in one “calendar” (1), and differentiates the “calendars” (2) by giving each “calendar” (2) a distinct colour within “calendar” (1). The colours displayed in the picture below may be different for you – you can choose you own colour scheme from the calendar options –, but you, too, will have different colours per calendar.

You will note that the Monday “Exam” above should be in the (red) MGB-36 calendar, not in the (light blue) interpreting group calendar. That is something you will have to pay attention to when you add an event, now that you have more than one ”calendar” (2) at your disposal (actually, you always had, and the most common initial error was users putting events in their personal ”calendar” (2) (coloured green above), with the result that nobody else but them could see those events).

You can set which “calendar” (2) to add an event to in the dropdown box labelled “Calendar” (framed red below, meaning “Which one?”). Also note the “All day [event]” option which should prove especially useful for a work group leave calendar (If you find a multi-day span option, let me know).


And here is the result, viewable for all users that have access to the hale-interpreting group calendar:

If colouring is not clear enough, filter the calendar (1) for specific “calendars”(2) = display only events from selected “calendars”(2). To do that, in the left menu, uncheck the box next to the calendar to hide all events from this calendar. Result if you view only the interpreting group calendar:

The natural next step is to have better collaboration even when not all workgroup members are in the same location, using instant messaging, including what is called presence. Windows Messenger 4.7 is already installed and ready on our computers (NOT if you have not abandoned Windows 2000 yet – do it now!). Just follow the quick start under my portrait picture at the right of my spaces home page . If you use your Windows Live login, a few things things should just fall into place. If you also want group messaging (multipoint), have the newer Windows Live Messenger installed.