The Complete Moodle User Guide

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Using Gamification to Engage Learners

When learners are engaged with their material, training effectiveness skyrockets. Gamification is one of the most effective ways to encourage learner engagement. According to market intelligence company Newzoo, there are more than 2 billion video game players worldwide and the video game industry is worth 100 billion today and growing. Progressive educators have caught onto this game by incorporating elements of video gaming into their instructional design. The approach taps into the human reward center to help build engagement. Often, it does not involve playing games at all but applies similar mechanics in a non-game context to engage users in solving problems and retaining material.

Gamification offers the learner the option to learn through failure as well, allowing them to learn by trying things, exploring if it works, failing and trying it again. For this to be most effective the failure should lead to a learning opportunity. If a problem is asked to be solved, and it is not successfully solved, there should be a lesson follow-up or the ability for the learner to attempt things again with maybe a hit or push in the right direction to be successful the 2nd or 3rd time through. People often fail in games but learn quickly by adapting to solve a problem or meet a challenge. Engagement intensified!

Gamification stimulates two basic psychological human needs: the first is a need for competence (a desire to seek out control or to feel mastery over a situation) and secondly, autonomy (the desire to feel independent or have a certain amount of control over our actions).

Gamification in Moodle

Gamification can be applied in Moodle, using game design elements, mechanics and thinking to make learning more engaging for the learners. Common gaming tactics are used to ignite healthy competition and the desire for learners to ‘win’. Game-based learning on the other hand utilizes tangible games such as hangman or crosswords. The Moodle Games Plugin allows you to utilize glossaries, short answer questions, multiple choice questions, and true/false questions to quiz learners with the following popular games:

  • Hangman
  • Crossword
  • Cryptex
  • Millionaire
  • Sudoku
  • The Hidden Picture
  • Snakes and Ladders

Moodle Plugins That Support Gamification

Moodle has several features and plugins that enable you to step up your engagement learning game by adding gaming features to your programs.

Points

Points can be awarded to learners to motivate them throughout courses and activities. They can be used to drive desired behaviours, signify status in a course, and even unlock new learning stages or rewards.

Challenges, Badges & Achievements

Motivate learners to do more, innovate faster and work smarter than others. Challenges that are a bit difficult and more meaningful for your learners that provide visible recognition will motivate them to reach higher and work even harder.

Leaderboards

Sports enthusiasts are glued to the leaderboards during competitions to see how their favorite team or player is progressing against competitors. Leaderboards in Moodle are scoreboards that display progress and ranking of learners to help them gauge their performance against their peers. Rankings motivate learners to excel past their peers in addition to boosting repeat visits. The Moodle gamification plugin, Ranking Block, makes this easy to implement by assigning points to activities completed in Moodle. Rankings are then displayed in a scoreboard block.

Levels

Levels help learners understand when they have reached a milestone or accomplishment. Many also use levels as an opportunity to provide meaningful feedback, and highlight areas for improvement.

Time-based Activities

Adding artificial time pressures like countdowns or timed-quizzes, can be used to motivate learners to work faster, as well as teaching them to work better under pressure.

Continual and Immediate Feedback

Games are fun, but losing isn’t. In order for gamification to be successful, learners have to want to play the games, which means that winning has to seem like a possibility. It is essential that users are given feedback when they lose—this not only helps solidify learning, but it also motivates learners when there is clear direction for improvement.

Stories and Characters

Creating stories and characters around learning challenges will help to immerse learners in courses. Bringing learning material alive through story and memorable characters provides an engagement boost—particularly for course material that is dry or dull.

Freedom to Fail

Giving learners the freedom to fail by giving them multiple lives, second chances or alternative methods to succeed is an engaging tactic, as it keeps learners motivated to work through a challenge for points or rewards.

Badges in Moodle LMS

Rewards such as badges have no financial value, yet some learners are still motivated to work hard to acquire them. This is an example of intrinsic motivation, where the individuals aren’t learning to receive something tangible, they are working to acquire new skills and knowledge. Intrinsic motivation refers to behaviour that is driven by internal rewards. The ability to award badges is a core feature of Moodle that originates from Totara Learn.

A digital Moodle badge is essentially an online recognition of achievements and skills. If a learner has a number of certifications, for example, they can receive and display LMS badges online to recognize their achievement or competencies. Moodle badges can be awarded based on a number of different achievements or criteria. With the ability to track a recipient’s communities of online interaction, a Moodle badge will explain the work completed, and the outcomes learned to achieve the badge.

Moodle badges are great motivation and engagement tools to award learners for their hard work and progress. They are simple, yet effective ways of accrediting learning. Moodle badges motivate learners who have received them to work hard to gain more, and they motivate other learners to work hard to gain their own badges—fostering healthy competition. Badges can be managed at either the course or site level.

Badges come in two varieties: site badges and course badges. Site badges are used across Moodle, and are offered for activities that are site-wide, such as completing a set of courses. Course badges are awarded for activities within a specific course.

Learners can view each other’s badges by going to the “Participants” tab on the Navigation bar, and clicking on the user’s course profile. Instructors can both add, and manage badges in their courses, as long as the administrator has enabled course badges in Administration > Site Administration > Badges settings. Instructors can also add their own badges, with a title, issuer detail, badge expiry date and criteria for awarding the badge.

If you are managing your own Moodle badges, you can do so by going to Navigation > My profile> My badges. You can also view all available course badges at Navigation > Current course > Badges. You can see what badges other students in the course has, by going to Navigation > Participants, and clicking on the user’s profile.

Here is a full list of Badges capabilities:

  • Add “My latest badges” block to the front page
  • Add “My latest badges” block to the user dashboard
  • Award a badge (this capability is prevented for the role of student)
  • Set up the criteria for awarding badges
  • Set up badges details, with the ability to edit
  • Configure badges messages
  • Create or duplicate badges
  • Delete badges
  • Earn and award badges
  • Manage badge site administration settings
  • View and manage your own earned badges
  • View users who earned a specific badge
  • View public badges in other user’s profiles
Moodle Badge

Microlearning

Microlearning is a way of teaching and delivering content to learners in small, very specific bursts with the learners having control of what and when they are learning. The approach involves short-term focused strategies, usually specially designed for skills based learning/education.

Microlearning nuggets can be used to supplement or reinforce the primary formal training to effectively create sticky learning experiences, and can be connected or stand alone. Microlearning is focused on specific learning outcomes and can be used as part of a formal training program to provide quick references to trainees. They should also be able to be referred to at any time and by anyone, ideally in a repository for quick access.

Generally, the microlearning process can span from a few seconds up to 15 minutes or more. The sweet spot target range for most content though is around 4 minutes, especially when it is video or media based.

What is Microlearning?

  • Bite-sized pieces of content
  • Learner controlled
  • Great for skills based learning
  • Target range for most content is around 4 minutes

Why use Microlearning?

  • Create “Sticky Learning”
  • Serves as a knowledge booster
  • Increases retention
  • Good for skills based training
  • Media rich

Using H5P

The plugin H5P in Moodle can be used to build interactive content. This page learning resource allows instructors to build a single page of content without a text-editor. This Moodles Book resource is similar to the Page except that it allows for multiple pages to be built and connected through a table of contents. The File resource offers instructors a way of providing files (PDF, PPT, Doc, Excel, etc.) to learners. Some organizations have also created short SCORM modules.

This approach to learning is usually cheaper to build, quicker to deploy and can be used as a standalone asset or as a multiple micro-course.

Moodle Mobile

The Moodle Mobile app provides learning on the go directly from a mobile device. Learning on a mobile phone or tablet allows for increased collaboration, and acts as an extra channel for communication in a course.

The Moodle Mobile app is a HTML5 application that works for Android and Apple devices. With the app, users have more multimedia capabilities, including being able to upload smartphone pictures, and record audio and videos into Moodle. Users can also use the mobile platform as an added channel of communication with peers and instructors.

Features introduced in Moodle Mobile 3.4 include:

Increased Learner Support

  • 100% learner support for core activities and learning resources (to enable more of their study to be accepted directly on mobile devices).
  • Feedback, Lesson and Workshop activities are able to be completed in the app.

Moodle from your Mobile! Links in the footer and user profiles now encourage you to download and use the Moodle Mobile app.

One Log In

  • Integration with Facebook, Google G-Suite and Microsoft Office means easier, faster access to all of the learning tools that users need, and the ability to open documents from other systems while on the Moodle site.
  • If an administrator enables OAuth2 on their Moodle site, mobile learners are able to log in via G-Suite, MS Office or Facebook to access all of their courses and activities.

Course Progress

  • Course overview is displayed in the app so learners can view their course progress anytime and see which assignments they need to complete.
  • Current, past and future courses can be filtered directly on the app.

Access Communications

  • Use the search functionality to look for messages faster and easier.
  • Users can turn off notification sounds through their notifications preferences setting

Set Important Communications

  • Instructors can pin forum posts from within the app so that they stay at the top of the list of forum discussions

Moodle Mobile app version 3.5 will come with several UX (user experience), performance and design improvements. The new changes will give the app a modern look and feel, making it easier to use by learners and instructors. In an effort to offer a seamless experience between devices, the new app design will be more consistent with Moodle 3.5.

Mobile

Multimedia Capabilities

One of the greatest benefits of eLearning is the ability to incorporate multimedia. The multimedia capabilities in Moodle are available through several multimedia plugins. By enabling the Multimedia plugins filter in Moodle, multimedia will be transformed from a link that points to a multimedia resource and to the appropriate multimedia player. An example of this is if an instructor places a video file as a resource in a course, or includes a URL link to an external video file. When the multimedia plugin is turned on, learners will then be able to play video files from a screen within their Moodle interface.

Video

According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) forecast, by the year 2021 there will be an estimated 4.6 billion global internet users, 27.1 billion networked devices and connections and 82% of all IP traffic will be video. Video can be used to provide learners with lectures they missed or to deliver learning videos (i.e. “How to”). If you have an original video, it can be uploaded directly into Moodle or embedded from an external site, such as YouTube or Vimeo.

Images

Images (.jpg, .png) can be uploaded to Moodle through the Text Editor that is available when creating or editing content. The Text Editor offers the author the ability to upload and embed an image into the text, similar to how you would in WordPress.

Podcasts/Audio Clips

Using the Podcast plugin, instructors can upload audio clips and podcasts in a Moodle course to allow learners to catch up on lectures (by listening to recorded lectures).

Animation

Animations can be uploaded to Moodle, just as you would upload a video. Depending on the animation file (animated .gif), you can also upload it as you would an image. Within Moodle, you have the capability to add additional file types to Moodle that may not have previously existed.

Multi-media

Communication in Moodle

A steady stream of communication is an essential component in online learning environments. There are a few common tools available for communication in Moodle.

Forum module—The forum module allows communication in Moodle between learners and instructors. There are 5 forum types, as discussed below.

Single simple discussion—In this format, a single topic discussion is developed on one page. This is useful for short, focussed discussions, as it is only available within one group, not throughout separate groups.

Standard forum for general use—This type of forum is open, so anyone can make posts, or start new topics at any time. For general forums, this is the recommended format.

Each person posts one discussion—This is a useful format if you’d like each learner to start a weekly discussion, for example. Even though each learner can only post one new discussion topic, everyone can reply to them.

Q and A forum—Instead of an open discussion, participants can post questions as the initial discussion starter. Learners can post their answers, and they will not be able to see other responses until they have done so.

Blogs—In Moodle, each user has their own blog, but users can also register their external blogs (i.e. Blogger, WordPress). This means that if a user has a WordPress blog that they register in Moodle, for example, anything they post there will automatically be posted to their Moodle blog. Just like in other blogging platforms, files can be uploaded in Moodle blogs, and posts can be edited or deleted.

Messaging—There are two forms of messaging in Moodle: instant messaging and message alerts. Instant messaging allows users to communicate instantly with one another, in real time. This isn’t always the most efficient form of communication (especially if there is much to discuss, if there needs to be more than 2 people involved, etc.), but it is the quickest way to communicate through Moodle. This feature is similar to popular instant messaging platforms such as Slack.

Message alerts can be enabled so that users can receive notifications when things are happening in Moodle. For example, if someone writes a new forum post, if a new assignment is submitted, if a message is received, users (both instructors and learners) will be notified.

Attendance—This module allows instructors and teachers to take attendance during class, and it allows learners to access and view their own attendance records (providing the Moodle admin has made this visible to them). The default attendance statuses are present, absent, late or excused.

Communicating
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