Icepocalypse 2014 – How to have class if you can’t get to campus

weatherThe winter has been kind to our class schedules so far this semester, but it looks like there could be freezing rain on Sunday.  How will you keep your class moving through the content you need to cover if you can’t get to campus?  Consider recording a “screencast.”  There are online tools that allow you to open your PowerPoint slides (or any other media you want to show on screen) and narrate with the microphone and webcam that is built-in to your laptop.  Using screencast-o-matic and YouTube you can record your lesson, post it to your YouTube account, and then place the YouTube link in Moodle for students to view at their convenience.  Or you could simply email the link to all your students.  Screencast-o-matic is web-based so it works on all platforms; Windows and Mac.  You can even edit, add text overlays, zoom in, etc. with the paid version of the app.

Think about the possibilities with a tool like screencast-o-matic.  You could record test reviews for students to view instead of taking up class time.  You could demonstrate difficult skills or illustrate troublesome concepts that tend to confuse your students every semester.  If flipping your classroom is one of your goals, mastering the creation of your own multimedia content is an important first step.

Tips for good screencasts:

  • Clear audio is more important than high quality video.  It doesn’t matter what the students are seeing on the screen if they can’t hear you clearly.  Test your computer microphone quality before recording a lecture.  Consider using a headset with a microphone close to your mouth.
  • Lighting: If you are going to include webcam footage, make sure the lighting is adequate.  For facial shots, try not to put your head between the camera and a light source.  Keep the light source behind the camera.
  • Keep it short.  Consider “chunking” a lecture into separate subject matter explaining one concept at a time.  Try not to go over 15 minutes; limiting your talk to five minutes or less is even better.

Here is an example of a screencast that I recorded with screencast-o-matic demonstrating how to add content in Moodle:

What’s new in Moodle-Winter 2013

MoodleThe Moodle development community is constantly trying to improve their code and add features to the core Moodle product.  Moodlerooms, our cloud hosting provider, usually waits a few weeks (or months) to fully test the changes before releasing them to their clients.  Moodlerooms also adds new features to their joule product at that time.  Below is a link to the list of the extensive changes that were made in December 2013.

Most Noticeable Change:

The first change you may notice in your Moodle courses is the Course Settings page (see the screenshot below).  Moodle has collapsed the many sections of this page and provided “drop-down triangles” so you don’t have to scroll through an extremely long page.  Just click the gray triangle next to the section you are interested in and the section will expand.  Click again to collapse the section.

Moodle also moved the Course Availability section to the General section and renamed it Visible.  This setting controls whether students see your Moodle course or not in their list of available courses.  Set the Visible control to Show instead of Hide when you are ready for your students to see your Moodle course.


New Integration LogoNew integration means:

  • Users don’t have to create accounts and log in to Turnitin separately
  • Users can submit and grade papers directly within Moodle

New Turnitin Assignment ActivityAs of Fall 2013 OBU has implemented integration with our Moodle learning management system.  If you have never used, go to our main support page and read about the features.  If you use Tii often and you also use Moodle, there is now a simpler process for both faculty and students.  Instead of creating a separate Tii account, faculty go to their Moodle course where they intend for the students to turn in their written assignments.  They create an assignment there, directly within the Moodle interface instead of having to log in to Tii and create a class and an assignment.  The student also does not have to create a separate Tii account.  They log into their Moodle course and turn in the assignment there.  The professor can check originality reports and grade papers from within the Moodle course page taking advantage of all of the features of the Tii application.  There is even an iPad app for checking originality reports and providing detailed feedback with Grademark.


There is no installation requirement. Simply log in to Moodle and go to your course. Faculty can view the tutorial video on how to add an assignment here.  This tutorial was created based on Moodle 1.9, but the information can easily be extrapolated to Moodle 2.x which is the version in use by OBU.

Tutorials and Help:

Apple TVs in the Classroom

Wireless projection is now possible in almost
half of the OBU main campus classrooms.

apple-tvApple TVs are designed and marketed for the home entertainment market, but they can be very useful in the classroom.  Anything on the screen of an Apple device such as an iPad, an iPhone, or a MacBook, can be sent wirelessly to the projector via the Apple TV device. The sound signal is also sent to the projection speakers.  It uses Apple’s “Airplay” protocol to connect wirelessly to other Apple products.  If you have an Apple device that is on the same wireless network as the Apple TV device (the employee network), you can mirror your screen onto the projector and show presentations, show web sites, show videos, demonstrate apps and other software, etc.

Extra Credit in Moodle

students_professor_classroomIt’s that time of year again!  Hopefully you don’t have students lining up outside your office asking for another chance at that missed assignment.  You do have some options if you use the Moodle gradebook.  Go to this page on our Moodle support section to see the easy, step-by-step instructions on how to make the points in a graded item in Moodle count for extra credit.

Extra Credit Tutorial Link

Attendance with Moodle

Moodle is not just for online courses.  It can be helpful in traditional face-to-face courses as well.  For instance, there is a handy attendance module inside Moodle that you may not be aware of.  It allows faculty to take attendance in class and post the results to students so they can see their attendance records within Moodle.  Click the graphic below to go to the tutorial page:

Mars Rover: Relevancy and Current Events

Current events related to your subject matter can be a powerful source to make your courses engaging and relevant to your learners. Here is a great example at NASA’s JPL website that gives a visual demonstration of how the new Mar’s rover landed on the surface of our second nearest planetary neighbor this morning. No more giant airbags are necessary like the ones used with previous lander missions. This one touches down on the planet similar to my favorite Atari game of the 1970’s, “Lunar Lander“!

It is easy to add links such as this one to your Moodle course:

  1. In your Moodle course content area click on “Add a resource”
  2. Choose URL as in the screen shot below.