How to add a twitter feed to Moodletags: digital pedagogy, moodle, teaching, twitter
Like many Digital Humanists, I use twitter a lot: for communicating with colleagues, the general public, and my students. Like most users of twitter (certainly most academics, I suspect), my most common type of tweet is probably one in which I share a resource I have come across—a book, article, website, project, etc. Since I use our university’s Moodle installation to store resources for my students, it would be quite useful to be able to capture a Twitter feed inside our Moodle class space. This post shows how to do it.
Although Twitter appears intent on destroying its main raison d’etre and selling point—the fact it is easy to use and embed in third party applications—it has not quite succeeded yet. Until recently, sharing a Twitter feed was quite easy, since your user page was itself a feed. In the last year or so, as Twitter has worked at making their service less useful, they have gradually removed all direct access to postings as an RSS or ATOM feed. They have attempted to replicate this functionality through a custom widget they have created. Since this widget appears to want to gather information about the page it is on, however, it appears unable to accept password-protected URLs such as universities typically use for their LMS installations (at any rate, it would not accept the U of L’s Moodle URL).
Although it is apparently not advertised, it still is possible to grab Twitter feeds as ATOM or RSS through the search.twitter.com URL. Using the URL. The URL and syntax for an RSS feed is
q= is followed by an appropriate term (see below). For ATOM the URL and syntax is
Here are some standard types of searchers you might want to do, from the excellent posting at The Sociable
Find tweets containing a word: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=twitter
Find tweets from a user: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=from%3Aalexiskold
Find tweets to a user: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=to%3Atechcrunch
Find tweets referencing a user: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=%40mashable
Find tweets containing a hashtag: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=%23haiku
Combine any of the operators together: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=movie+%3A%29
It is also possible to go far beyond this: The sociable also has ways of combining these with geographic locations and regions!
Getting this feed into Moodle is quite simple:
- While in your course, turn on editing
- Scroll down to the “Add a block” control
- Select “Remote RSS Feed”
- Fill in the necessary fields and click on “Add feed” to point at custom search you want to use.
- Save everything.
Eventually, you should see your feed show up in the Remote Feed box you added to your course (I say eventually, because the default refresh time in Moodle is 30 minutes).
Posted: Wednesday September 12, 2012. 14:14.
Last modified: Wednesday September 12, 2012. 15:14.
How to "clone" a test in Moodle 2.0tags: backups, computers, digital humanities, digital pedagogy, learning management systems, lms, moodle, tips
Here’s how to clone a test in Moodle 2.0 (i.e. make an exact copy so that both appear in the course; this is useful for making practice tests or copying a basic test format so that it can be reused later in the course):
- Backup the test. Exclude all user data but include activities, blocks, and filters.
- Select “Restore.” Your backup should be listed under user private backups. Simply restore the file to create a second instance.
- Treat one of the instances as your clone: move it, edit it, change its titles and questions. It is a completely independent version of the original file.
Posted: Sunday March 27, 2011. 20:23.
Last modified: Wednesday May 23, 2012. 19:27.
Organising Quizzes in Moodle 2.0tags: computers, digital humanities, digital pedagogy, learning management systems, lms, moodle, testing, tips
Moodle 2.0 allows designers to divide questions into pages. But while this introduces great flexibility, it can be quite a cumbersome system to use at first. Here’s a method for making it more efficient:
- When you first build a test, put all questions on one page.
- Once you have the questions in the order you want, divide the test into different pages by selecting the last question for each page and selecting the “Begin new page after selected question.
This will cut down on your server calls (and hence time) immensely.
Posted: Sunday March 27, 2011. 20:08.
Last modified: Wednesday May 23, 2012. 19:28.
Differences between Moodle and Blackboard/WebCT short answer questionstags: blackboard, computers, digital humanities, digital pedagogy, formats, learning management systems, lms, moodle, testing, tips, webct
There is an important difference between Moodle and Blackboard (WebCT) short answer questions that instructors should be aware of, namely that Moodle short answer questions allow only one answer field.
This means, for example, that you can’t easily import blackboard questions of the type “Supply the part of speech, person, tense, and number for the following form.” In Blackboard, you can present the student with four blanks for them to fill in, each with a different answer. When these are imported into Moodle, the question is converted into a form in which there is a single blank that has four possible correct answers.
There are various ways of asking the same kinds of questions in Moodle. The easiest when you are dealing with imported questions is to ask for a single quality in each answer. So instead of one question asking for part of speech, person, tense, and number, you might have four different questions, one for part of speech, another, for person, a third for tense, and a fourth for number.
A second way of asking this kind of question in Moodle is to use the embedded answer type. These are harder to write, but are arguably closer to the paper equivalent of the same type of question:
For the following Old English word supply the requested information:
Part of Speech:
Posted: Sunday March 27, 2011. 19:39.
Last modified: Wednesday May 23, 2012. 19:29.
Multiple Choice Questions in Moodletags: computers, digital humanities, digital pedagogy, learning management systems, lms, moodle, testing, tips
Here are some tips for the composition of Multiple Choice Questions in Moodle.
- If students are allowed to mark more than one option correct and you intend to include at least one question where none of the offered options are correct, include as a possible answer “None of the listed options.”
- Do not call it “none of the above” since if (as you normally should) you have selected “shuffle answers,” you have no guarantee that it will be the final answer in the sequence.
- You should include this option in all questions in the set (including those for which some of the options are correct) to avoid giving the answer away when it appears.
- When “none of the listed options” is not the right answer, it should be scored at -100%, to avoid a student hedging his or her bets by selecting it and all the other answers.
- If you anticipate having a question for which all the answers are correct, you do not need a “All of the listed answers,” since selecting all will give students 100%.
- The correct options should be scored so they add up to 100%, of course!
- Incorrect options (exclusive of other than “None of the listed forms”) can be scored in a number of different ways:
- So that the total for all incorrect options (except “none of the listed forms”) is -100% (this stops a student hedging his or her bets by selecting all options); if you do not have a “none of the listed options” answer, you almost certainly should score this way.
- So that each negative is the reciprocal of a correct answer, regardless of whether all the incorrect answers add up to -100%. Use this if you don’t mind that a student selecting everything except a “None of the listed options” might end up with part marks.
Posted: Sunday March 27, 2011. 17:15.
Last modified: Wednesday May 23, 2012. 19:32.
How to build a randomised essay/translation question in Moodle 2.0tags: computers, digital humanities, digital pedagogy, formats, moodle, testing, tips, tutorials
In my courses I often use a question of the following format:
- Common introduction
- Two or more sample passages or questions requiring an essay response
- A common form field for the answer to the student’s choice from #2.
Here is an example:
Write a modern English translation of one of the following passages in Old English in the space provided below.
1. Hæfst þū ǣnige ġefēran?
2. Hwæt māre dēst þū? Hæfst þū ġīet māre tō dōnne?
[Essay answer box for translation].>
The point of this format is to provide the student with a choice of topics. If students all write their essays or translations at the same time, you can build your choice of topics by hand and write them into a single question. The challenge comes if you want to be able to allow your students to write the test asynchronously, as is common with Learning Management Software. In such cases you want to be able to draw your essay topics or translation passages randomly from a test bank.
All the basic elements you would need to do this are available in Moodle, both 1.x and 2.0+. You can use the “description” question type to put in the general instructions at the beginning; you can use the essay format question to provide the answer box. And you can use Moodle’s ability to assign random questions to draw your topics or translation passage from your test bank.
But there are also some problems:
- Description questions are unnumbered, meaning your introduction will not start with the question number
- Although there was some discussion before the release of Moodle 2.0 about allowing description questions to be randomised, this appears not to have been implemented. All questions that can be randomised must have an action associated with them. This means that every topic or translation passage must ask the student to do something. And also that each topic or translation will have a number.
What I do is the following:
- I write the introduction as a description question (and just accept that it has no number assigned).
- I write my translation passage or topics as “true / false” questions. Each consists of the topic or passage, followed by the question “I am writing on this topic/passage…” as the prompt for a true/false answer.
- I use the essay topic question to provide the common answer box. Since you need to have some text in an essay question, I use an anodyne instruction like “Write your essay/translation in the following space” to fill out the question.
- I assign a grade value of 0 to the two random topic/passages and assign the full grade value of the question to the essay answer box. The result is not elegant, but it works.
Posted: Sunday March 20, 2011. 15:26.
Last modified: Wednesday May 23, 2012. 19:34.
Manual Grading of All Questions in Moodle 2.0tags: digital pedagogy, grading, moodle, testing, tips, tutorials
- From the main course page, select the quiz.
- From the quiz page, scroll down until you see the number of attempts made this should be a hyperlink.
- Select the hyperlink; you will now see a table of results. In the navigation block in the left hand frame select My home > My courses > [course name] > [Week or topic in which quiz is found] > Results > Manual Grading
- When you select this you are presented with the questions for manual grading. New in Moodle 2.0 is the option of hiding names and pictures; unfortunately this doesn’t affect the actual presentation of names under the “mark all instances” page.
Posted: Sunday March 20, 2011. 10:12.
Last modified: Wednesday May 23, 2012. 19:40.
How to setup a signup sheet in Moodletags: computers, digital humanities, digital pedagogy, learning management systems, lms, moodle, tips, tutorials
You can create a signup sheet for Moodle using the “Choice” activity.
A video showing how to do this can be found here: https://ctl.furman.edu/main/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=78&Itemid=90
In brief, however, here’s how to do it:
- Go to the section of your course in which you want the signup sheet to appear.
- With editing on, select the “Choice” activity.
- Fill in the title and description information.
- If you are restricting attendance, set the “Limit the number of responses allowed” option under “Limit” to “enabled.” Setting this allowed you to set how many people are allowed to choice any one option. If it is disabled, any number of participants may sign up for any particular session.
- Each “Option” represents an entry on the signup sheet. Write in the date and time (or anything else you require) in the “Option” field and, if you have enabled limits, the maximum number of participants for the entry in the “limit” field. If you need more than the standard five options, select “Add three more options” after you’ve filled in the first five.
Posted: Tuesday March 15, 2011. 13:44.
Last modified: Wednesday May 23, 2012. 19:35.
How to do stuff in Moodletags: digital pedagogy, manuals, moodle, tips
Here’s a very good site at Furman University for common, specific tasks in Moodle: https://ctl.furman.edu/main/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=84&Itemid=90
Posted: Tuesday March 15, 2011. 11:05.
Last modified: Wednesday May 23, 2012. 19:41.