Hack/Doc at Swarthmore: Day 2

Buildings beneath a blue skyline
View from the top of Singer Hall. Photo credit: Charles Fulton

Work on the task list continued during Day 2 of the Moodle Hack/Doc Fest at Swarthmore College, interrupted only by an expedition to the Solar Lab on the roof of Singer Hall, which provided a commanding view of Swarthmore’s campus and Greater Philadelphia.

From the task list

We continued to work on yesterday’s tasks and added a few new ones:

LTI integrations: Perusall

Perusall is a social annotation platform. Launching from the LTI module in Moodle will place one into a workflow to create their Perusall account on the fly. It’s important to set the launch container to Existing Window or New Window or it won’t work. The default launch container can be edited for the LTI module in the site admin. Student Perusall accounts are created as students use the tool. The tool also automatically creates an entry for the student in the gradebook with a grade of 100. The service is free for those using their own texts (e.g., PDFs or OERs), but texts available through Perusall require payment as does the ability to brand it for one’s institution.

LTI integrations: Google Assignment

Google Assignments allows you to create and share coursework within the LMS using Google Drive. It wasn’t clear if enrollments/permissions are managed dynamically. When creating from LTI, the grades appear in the Moodle gradebook automatically. The question bank is pretty good; other nice features include a plagiarism tool, the ability to grade all and then submit all at once, rubrics, and the ability to convert Word documents and PDFs to Google Docs while preserving the original. One caveat is that Google Assignments created through the LTI will not show up when going to https://assignments.google.com, and vice-versa.

Moodle Mobile app

Following on from yesterday’s equivocal evaluation of the Moodle Mobile app; it’s best to think of the app as a consumption tool and not a creation/editing tool. It’s certainly student-centric while allowing instructors the ability to grade some items. There is no wholesale gradebook access for instructors, but there is for students in the menu item that looks like an analytics logo. It’s important to manage expectations if your institution decides to roll it out.

Moodle 3.8 review

Michael Harris from Bryn Mawr College encountered a problem that, as far as anyone can remember, is unique in the 10+ years of Moodle Hack/Doc Fest: Moodle’s JIRA tracker has a built-in limit which prevents you from reporting more than one new issue per hour! Michael had been meticulously documenting accessibility problems with the new forum grading feature. Two have been reported so far (MDL-67652 and MDL-67655), with more on the way.

The Course Overview block now supports filtering based on, among other fields, custom course fields. For example, you could create a custom course field named “department”, and then allow teachers to filter based on the department in their dashboard.

Course Merger Helper

Courses created with the Course Merge Helper were not receiving all the default course settings unless the school was using the local course template plugin. Examples of incorrect behavior included no sections in the new course, or the gradebook enabled when it should be suppressed. We’ve squashed this bug and released a new version of the plugin.

Hack/Doc Fest Winter 2020 at Swarthmore College: Event page | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3