Introduction to Moodle for ANGEL users at E&H:                                   (moodle_angel_intro_1.docx,  Last updated Jan 3, 2011)

Though we will make this transition as easy as possible,   don’t be surprised if you find that it takes  a little while before you become as comfortable using Moodle as you were when using  ANGEL.  

There are two main differences to assimilate at the very start:

1)       The screens look different.  The Moodle screens and menus are not organized like those of ANGEL and it takes some time to find, and remember, where particular things are located.

2)      The separate tasks, such as uploading a file,  creating a drop box, or sending email to students use a sequence of steps, and terms, that often  differ significantly from those in ANGEL.

Though the terms and procedures may differ, the resulting on-line course site will provide the same functions as an ANGEL site.   After spending  some time working with Moodle,  the odds are good that you will find it as easy to use as ANGEL. 

To help you deal with the changes you will encounter  we will, when appropriate, use screen captures to compare what users need to know and do in each of the two systems to accomplish the most common tasks.

This document outlines the main differences between the layout/structure of a typical Moodle course screen and that of a typical ANGEL course screen.  After that it gives an overview of the differences in the steps needed to add course content  for the two LMS  (Learning Management System )  systems.

The Moodle Screen   vs.   the ANGEL screen

The first thing to get used to is that Moodle does not use tabs along the top of the screen like ANGEL does.     An Angel course looks like this:

In Moodle the screen is normally divided into three columns and has no tabs along the top.  

  [ see larger example below ]

The left column contains a number of menu items similar to the tabs at the top of the screen in ANGEL.  

The middle column is usually the largest column and usually contains the most important information on the screen.  When in a particular course, the contents of the course are listed in the center column.   The center column is similar to the results of clicking on the “Lessons” tab in ANGEL.

 Here is a typical Moodle course screen:

Note the three columns.    The center column contains those items that were listed under the “Lessons” tab in ANGEL.   In ANGEL those items could be grouped into a sequence of folders.    Some instructors set up a folder for each week of the course, others  used other groupings, such as topic areas,  for each folder.    

In Moodle those same content items are grouped into a one or more titled groups (referred to as “Topics” in Moodle documentation)  listed in the center column.    Each group has a title, like those of ANGEL folders.  Instructors may create any number of groups, just as ANGEL permitted any number of folders. 

To review:   The center column in a Moodle course is similar to the material displayed when an ANGEL user clicks the “Lessons” tab.   Content items are grouped in titled groupings, much like ANGEL folders.

The two paragraphs below explain a difference between the way ANGEL displays contents, using folders, and Moodle displays the same contents, using the column of grouped items.

ANGEL:   When a user clicks on the “Lessons” tab,  ANGEL  lists the course content as a combination of individual  items and  folders .   Users cannot see the contents of a folder until they click on it to open it.   When a folder is open, the user sees only the contents of that folder.   All course content outside that folder is hidden when a folder is open. 

 Moodle: In contrast, the column of  Moodle topics (groups of items) also shows the titles of the content items that are inside each topic.     

To review: In ANGEL, users don’t see the contents of a folder until they open it, while in  Moodle  users see a column that contains both the title of each “Topic” and the  content items in that topic.

A Moodle “topic” is simply a name for a group of content items.  Instructors may choose any topic “title”, they desire.   This grouping/naming is similar to folders in ANGEL.   Moodle also permits creating and using folders within topics.   Moodle also offers to create a list of topics where each topic is associated with a week in the semester, using a starting date entered by the instructor. 

Moodle permits users to temporarily select one “Topic” (i.e. one titled group of items)  and hide all the others.    This display is very much like that of an open folder in ANGEL.

Students using Moodle can usually see the contents of two, or more, “topics” at the same time.  ANGEL users do not see the contents of two or more folders at the same time.

Adding Course Content:

The instructions below describe how to add course content in Moodle.   You may find it useful to compare these instructions to those for ANGEL.  The corresponding instructions for ANGEL are included at the bottom of this document.

To add content to a Moodle  course the instructor would:

1)      Turn “editing on”.     Instructors viewing a  Moodle course must “Turn Editing On” in order to change, or add, anything in the course.     This takes a little getting used to.

                                  

 

2)       choose where to put the item. This means to choose a  “topic” in the middle column.  (i.e. choose which  grouping  will contain the added content).

3)      Add (create or upload) the desired item to the topic.   To do this the instructor must first determine whether they are uploading a “resource” or an “activity”.   This choice is unlike anything in ANGEL.   The user’s choices are :

                    Add a resource”             or                 “Add an activity”.        These are explained below.

Moodle Course content items are broken into two sets :

   Resource  items are things like files (text, video, audio) or web links that the student can view or download.   They do not provide a way for the student to leave a response to the item.  

An activity is normally an item, such as a quiz, or request for an essay, that can result in student work that can be graded.   

Resources are items the instructor wants the student see or study.   In contrast, though activities may include viewable  content,  they usually  also ask the student to do something that can be viewed by the instructor and, if appropriate, graded.

For example, a MS Word document or  a PFD file would be a “resource”.   A quiz or a request for an essay would be an “activity”.

I found this distinction somewhat confusing at first.  Later it seemed to me to be mainly a convenient way of breaking a large list of possible content types into two somewhat distinct groups.   Instructors adding content will click on one of the two “Add” choices .  If they  pick the wrong one, they can simply click the other one.   I do not think knowing this distinction is necessary for instructors, or students, in the process of becoming an efficient, comfortable, user of Moodle.

The distinction between “resources” and “activities” becomes clearer when an instructor clicks on either “Add a resource” or “Add an Activity” and is shown the list of items associated with that label.  Screen captures below show these lists.  

 

Resources

Activities

 

The key differences between ANGEL and Moodle outlined above are:

The screens are not similar.  

1)      ANGEL uses tabs at the top of the screen,  Moodle does not.

2)      The Moodle course screen is normally divided into three columns and the middle, larger, column normally contains the primary content of the course.  ANGEL uses other screen laytouts.

3)      The course content for ANGEL is displayed when a user clicks the  “Lesson tab”.  The course content in Moodle is displayed in the center, larger, column on the screen when a user enters that course.

4)      ANGEL  either lists course content items separately and/or groups them in folders (and sometimes sub-folders).  Users cannot see the contents of the folder until open it.   In contrast, Moodle groups all course content items into one or more titled groupings ( referred to as “Topics”).   The “Topics” are displayed in the center column and contents of each topic are also displayed.   Moodle permits temporarily selecting one topic and hiding all the others.  Moodle also permits creating and using folders within topics.

The steps used to upload or create content are significantly different:

1)      Moodle requires the instructor to “Turn Editing” on in order to add content, or modify, a course.   ANGEL uses a sequence of clicks to get to “Add Content”.

2)      ANGEL groups all the choices of items to add to content in one location.   Moodle divides them into two categories  “Resources” and “Activities”

My personal experience was that understanding the items discussed above made my use Moodle significantly easier.   If you discover an insight or perspective  that you wish had been explained earlier, please email it to Harry Baya so that it can be included here.

Separate documents are being prepared to show how to do specific tasks, such as send email to students from within a course, and how the Moodle steps compare to those in ANGEL.   The high priority topics for now are:

·         Upload a file (Word, Excel,  PDF, JPG, MP3  etc. ) for the student to access

·         Create an assignment in which a student uploads material for teacher review (ANGEL calls this a dropbox)

·         Create and manage a discussion forum,  a Wiki, and/or a Blog

·         Enter and manage grades for student work

·         Create teams within a course and create collaboration tools, such as discussion forums and file sharing areas, to be used by members of each team.

If you have other specific items to add to this list, please let me know.

Harry Baya,   January 3, 2011

IN CONTRAST TO MOODLE :  To add course content in ANGEL an instructor would

1)      click on the lesson tab

2)      click on a folder if the item is to be added inside a folder  (an item  cannot be later moved into or out of a folder.  To do this requires deleting that item and  re-uploading it to the desired location.

3)      Click on the “Add Content” choice

4)      Click the title for the type of content to be added.  

5)      Go through the steps to upload or create the contents

6)      Move the item’s  title to the appropriate location in the list. 

Here are some screen captures of the initial steps to add a content item in ANGEL: