Testing students’ recall of recent learning is often done by creating Moodle quizzes with a range of different complex questions. Now teachers can embed previously created questions in any HTML text area without packaging them in a quiz. This includes on the main course page, inside a Moodle book, even in a block on the side.*
Why it’s a good idea
The pedagogical principle behind this function is called “retrieval practice”. The essence of this idea is that the more you practice recalling specific memories, the stronger the memory becomes. The very act of bringing information to mind strengthens the students’ ability to do so. However, test anxiety can really get in the way of fluid and competent performance. Therefore it is a good idea to provide frequent opportunities where students can quiz themselves without worrying that their performance will impact on their grade. Viewed this way, quizzing can be understood as a learning strategy, not an assessment strategy. Best practices include having frequent opportunities, spacing them out and using different kinds of questions. (Read more about retrieval practice at www.retrievalpractice.org.)
How to do it
First, your Moodle course must already contain the questions you want to embed. You may want to create a category just for this purpose. If you haven’t already, make sure both your category and your questions have an ID number. This is essential. Also wherever possible, make sure your questions provide students with useful and specific feedback for both correct and incorrect answer options.
Then, decide where to embed the questions. You can select any area where you can enter HTML text. Turn editing on. Use the “Show more buttons” button to expand the toolbar (shown in blue). Select the “Embed questions” button (shown in green). Select the category and then the question you would like to embed.
Finally, save and admire your work! Always remember to test your work and check it in the mobile view before you release the course to students.
Additionally, you can see an overview of how students have progressed in the reports section of the course. Via the gearwheel, go to “more” and in the “reports” section you can see wether students have answered the questions and where they may have struggled.
Contact LET support via phone (044 632-0665) or email if you need additional support.
Next to the course catalogue, Moodle is the most used system at ETH Zurich when it comes to supporting active online teaching and learning. However a common complaint from both students and teachers was the lack of anonymity when it comes to forum discussions. As of September 2022, this has changed.
The Moodle update in September brought in a new plug-in called «Moodle Overflow» (inspired by Stack Overflow) which enables additional functionality not available in the regular Moodle forum. The Overflow forum is particularly suitable for courses which have a high number of forums and a high amount of activity in the forums due to the improved overview. The regular Moodle forum provides a different set of settings.
Better overview. When entering an Overflow forum, both teachers and students can see which threads are new (unread) and which have not yet had an answer marked as «correct» and «helpful». The overview also shows votes and the number of replies.
Anonymity. Overflow enables teachers to choose between two types of anonymity, questioners only or questioners and answerers. These settings are irreversable.
Rating. All course participants can «rate» a thread in the Overflow forums. Highly rated posts move towards the top. Teachers can use this feature to ask students to “vote” for best answers. This is a fast way to strengthen the visibility of a particular response and means students don’t have to post answers in order agree with an existing answer, they can just upvote.
Reputation. If teachers enable it, Overflow can track the reputation of participants either in a single overflow forum or across all Overflow forums in the course. Answers by students or Teaching Assistants with higher reputations will be more credible.
Mark as correct/helpful. Answers can be marked das «correct» by teachers or as «helpful» by the questioner. It does not have to be the same answer. This means that a teacher can overrule any discussions by labelling a specific answer as the correct answer and prevents students from accepting incorrect answers.
Moderation. Posts by students will only be published once a teacher has approved it.
Is it perfect? No. One complaint is that the question is no longer displayed when participants begin writing their own comment or answer. In addition only answers (not answers to answers) can be marked as helpful or correct.
Things to consider when creating an Overflow Forum:
Should students be automatically subscribed to this overflow?
Which answer should be displayed first, helpful or solved?
Should the reputation (rating) be aggregated over several MoodleOverflows?
The default Moodle forum has many additional features, even experienced Moodle users might find something new in this list.
Different types: There are four types of forums to choose from. The standard forum is the one most people are familiar with. The single discussion only allows one discussion to be posted by the lecturer and students can only post replies. The Q&A forum requires students to post an answer before they can see the replies of others. The final type is much like the standard forum but it displays the content more like a blog.
Time settings: Teachers can post in advance and delay the publication of their entry. They can also choose to have their post only visible for a particular time frame or create a due date by when students have to have responded.
RSS: An alternative to subscribing, when enabled this feature means new forum discussions (or posts) will be sent via RSS feed.
Locking Discussion: Teachers can lock the discussion at any point preventing further posts by students.
Post threshold: In order to restrict individuals from flooding a forum, teachers can set a maximum post threshold which automatically blocks users once they reach it. Teachers can also choose to have the word count displayed (but not set a limit).
Better completion setting options: The Moodle forum has more completion setting options in cases where lecturers want to track completion.
App compatible: The Moodle forum is fully compatible with the ETH Moodle App. The Overflow forum will redirect you to a browser.
Which forum are you planning on using? Please share your scenarios in the comments so we can collect examples in action. If you are interested in chatting with other lecturers at ETH Zurich who are using Overflow you are welcome to join the (ETH only) Moodle course https://moodle-app2.let.ethz.ch/course/view.php?id=15312 .
Microsoft Teams and eDoz can now be linked and synchronized via Moodle. Until now, to create a team in MS Teams for a course, ETH lecturers had to manually assign and manage the participants. If a student were to enroll late, he would need to be added to the team at a later point. The same is true, if a student unenrolls from the course, she would need to be removed from MS Teams manually. This is manageable for small classes, however for lectures with several hundred students, this is not an acceptable solution. With the new integration between Moodle and MS Teams this process is automated.
The main feature of this new plug-in is, that ETH students enrolled in eDoz are synced automatically in MS Teams. Because the link works over Moodle, one is required to have a Moodle course. The Moodle course offers easy options for course layout, advanced content structuring possibilities, activity completion tracking, a grade book, quizzes and many more features to foster student learning. Read more about Moodle. However, the Moodle course can be set to be hidden and MS Teams can be accessed directly and used on its own while the automatic synchronisation works in the background.
Advantages of using this plug-in are that students will have access to the entire MS Teams portfolio, which can be used to work collaboratively on different types of files and to chat.
Benefits of MS Teams
Create “channels” for group work
Work collaboratively with Word, Excel and Powerpoint
Extensive chat function: direct message and groups
Easy file sharing
Task lists, team notebooks
File storage can be mounted as an external drive to the personal computer
Integrated video conference
How does it compare to existing tools?
ETH Zurich already offers file sharing (Polybox) and collaborative writing (Collabora), however MS Teams offers advanced functions and is better suited for large numbers of people.
How to create a Microsoft Teams?
Write an email to the LET support, they will create and activate the team
Manually add a link in Moodle to directly access MS Teams
With this, you are already set up and ready to go! Contact us at email@example.com for more information and to activate MS Teams for your course.
How can you use Microsoft Teams for your course?
As an example you can create an assignment in Moodle requiring students to submit a document (e.g. Excel, Word or PowerPoint). With just a link, you can send your Students to MS Teams, there you can create private channels for each group. Students can then work together in MS Teams to share files, edit the same file and chat together while completing this assignment. And all these files are only visible to members of their group. (The channels are also hidden from teachers if they are not a member of this private channel). This way students can solve the assignment and then upload the final document in Moodle where it is graded.
Would you like a preview?
You can check out the integration by logging in to this Moodle course so that you can get some insights how Teams and Moodle work together.
We are always interested in finding out more about how people are using MS Teams in their teaching. Please consider sharing your ideas (and question in the course forum in Moodle). We are looking forward to connecting with new lecturers across all departments who want to use MS Teams in addition to their Moodle course.
Meeting the diverse needs of Student Teaching Assistants
Serena Pedrocchi (Faculty Developer at the Unit for Educational Development and Technology) describes how courses at ETH Zurich designed for Student Teaching Assistants will continue to grow to meet the needs of an increasingly large and diverse group.
The teaching assignments of Student Teaching Assistants (“Hilfsassistierende” as Student TAs) are of great importance in the daily teaching routine at ETH Zurich. Student TAs are distinguished from each other not only by their knowledge of the subjects they teach, but also by the different roles they can take on in teaching: From being the contact person for correcting exercises to the role of exercise leader, or tutor and group coach. Different forms of teaching also require different competences, which is why it is a priority for us in the Faculty Development Team to cover these different specialisations in our didactic courses as well. By offering three very different courses Student TAs with different roles can select a course that best prepares them for their role.
Didactic Basics for Student TAs In this course, Student TAs learn to plan their workshops and exercises effectively, practice activating methods and are also guided to transfer these into their real lessons. The focus is on imparting knowledge of learning psychology and didactics as well as on topics to develop the skills and self-confidence to effectively plan and teach one’s own workshops and classes. In the microteaching workshop, in which participants practice their teaching skills with one another and receive direct feedback (peer learning), participants build confidence in what works for them. In addition, the course aims to support Student TAs to think critically and reflectively about their students’ learning and to develop engaging learning activities. The course encourages Student TAs to network with peers from different disciplines, which can support them in developing their teaching skills by building a long-term network.
Coaching Students This course enables Student TAs in their role as student coaches to develop basic knowledge in coaching techniques and guiding of learning processes. The participants acquire coaching skills and methods to effectively guide and accompany individual students and especially teams of students in working and learning processes. This includes knowledge about team development phases, cooperative forms of learning, facilitation of decision-making within a team, reflection on critical phases and solving conflict situations in a team. This course also enables Student TAs to network with peers from different disciplines.
Ready, Set, Go! This course has been developed for online self-study and has no transfer phase. Participants can work through the course at their own pace and complete it individually. The aim of this course is to offer the Student TAs a first low-threshold opportunity to familiarise themselves with didactic basics and thus to gain an overview of essential teaching concepts. In the online course, two “personas” (invented tutors with realistic characteristics and depicted in realistic situations) demonstrate concrete examples of teaching. First, the course participants are shown theory about teaching and learning, which is then applied to a fictional situation through the personas in a second step. After seeing the theory in “action”, the participants are shown how to transfer the concepts into their own teaching context.
We expect a strong increase in the number of participants in the didactic courses for Student TAs. The blended learning format (with emphasis on online-learning) will continue to ensure that the course is able to meet the increased numbers. Furthermore, increasingly Student TAs are confronted with new, more complex didactic concepts in their teaching (such as blended learning, flipped classroom, to name a few), which is why it is necessary for us to continuously develop the courses in order to prepare Student TAs adequately for their teaching tasks. Hence, an extension of the specialisation modules in the courses is planned.
…just another video? Exploring new methods of video-production in academia
By Judith Rehmann, Dr. Jeanine Reutemann
What do science, education and video have to do with each other? Ever since the very beginning of film in the early 20thcentury, science, film and education have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship. Each contributed in its own way to the production of knowledge and to progress in the endeavors of the other.
However, production methods have a significant effect on the outcome. In this brief article, we take a step back to reflect on our way of working with ‘co-design’ methods for the production of scientific educational videos and we aim to think about both its challenges and potential.
Image 1 and 2: Videostills from LET ETH Zurich YouTube channel (July 2021). “Wissenschaftsvideos – Kritik und Potenzial”, https://youtu.be/WuuXkLRLxIE.
By acknowledging the audiovisual power of film and its productive intertwining with science, Thomas Edison – a founding father of cinema – even proclaimed film as the future of education in 1922. While this claim remains to be proven, we can safely say that now, over 100 years later, in the digital age and following the boom of Massive Open Online Courses, scientific and educational videos are at the forefront of research and education.
When the ETH Zurich LET media team set out to produce eleven new scientific videos for the first chapter of the swissuniversity MOOC Digital Skills for Videos in Higher Education, we drew from a rich body of knowledge on the history and theory of videos in science and education. On this foundation, we used modern aesthetic technology and media design in our production. The co-design and co-creation between inter- and transdisciplinary experts from various sciences, education, and professional media design were crucial in our process. In doing so, we challenge traditional hierarchal structures and instead put forward a collaborative approach to filmmaking.
Image 3: Videostill from LET ETH Zurich youtube channel (August 2021). “Lehr- und Lernkulturen in einer globalisierten, digitalen Welt”. https://youtu.be/9HK59pGYPDs.
What is meant with this? How does co-designing work in practice and how does it incorporate a collaborative approach? What can be said about its potential for producing videos for higher education – videos, that both engage the viewer and are scientifically valid? It necessary to work in an open dialogue between us, the creative video-team, the scientists and the educators, so the scientific content is accurately depicted in the video while still utilising the medium to its full potential. Our team consisted of experts in video and media design, animation, film and media studies, psychology, educational studies and didactics. We engaged in creative as well as academic discussions with the respective experts on the scientific content of the video. These conversations have proved to be very fruitful. The united, collaborative thought process allowed for new connections to be made between the academic and the creative realm: for example, during an expert interview for the video “Social Video Learning”, new metaphors were found which not only shed new light on the topic discussed but also inspired the audiovisual production and design of the video significantly.
While such a collaborative approach was challenging, it allowed us to incorporate the combined expertise of everyone involved in the video production process. It has also led to new insights for both the filmmakers as well as for the educational scientists, for example by developing a powerful audiovisual language that is capable of sorting through complex scientific issues.
This method requires the team to jointly commit to the same goal: the production of an engaging, scientifically valid video for higher education purposes. It means not only working together as co-workers but also recognizing each other as individuals who bring a specific knowledge to the project. This reminds of Lévys humanitarian approach in his concept of collective intelligence. Indeed, such comparisons aren’t far off: During the production of the video, each member of the group is acknowledged for what they know and contribute to the academic and creative production of the video.
So ultimately, it is not the ‘handwriting’ of a single author which defines the video, but the collaborative method of co-designing which allows for the video to become much more than a filmic text, but a language of its own in which the scientific content can be communicated in an effective, engaging and enjoyable way.
The interdisciplinary collaboration between science, education, and film also has hurdles. For example, scientists are sometimes reluctant to venture into a different field of expertise. This can only be overcome by maintaining an open, positive communication between scientists and filmmakers. The willingness to tread on new ground in foreign disciplines is necessary on both sides. By working together and finding solutions across disciplinary borders, more sustainable solutions can be found. Ultimately, they will enrich the depiction of the scientific content and the audiovisual quality of the video produced. Thus, the potential of co-designing videos with scientists, educators, and filmmakers lies in enabling an interconnectedness between science- and film practices.
A look back on the first Innovation in Learning & Teaching Fair
The Innovation in Learning & Teaching Fair with the KITE Award Ceremony took place on May 4th, 2022. By building on the previous successes of the Innovedum and KITE events, a wide community of around 200 engaged individuals were able to come together for discussion, feedback and inspiration on the topic of student learning. The focus for this year’s event was on online teaching and learning during the Covid pandemic.
There were 44 innovative teaching projects showcased in the main hall of the ETH Main Building. The exhibition opened at 3.00 p.m. and was very well attended. As you can see in the pictures, lively discussions took place during the exhibition. You could see and feel that the teaching community at ETH was excited to come together again in person, to discuss their projects, exchange ideas and maybe just chat a bit with each other.
The participants were so engaged in their exchanges, that they had to be reminded of the start of the KITE Award ceremony, at 5.00 p.m. in AudiMax. The event ceremony with speeches by Rector Günter Dissertori, KdL President Ulrike Lohmann and introductions of the finalists by Manu Kapur was very festive. While all three finalist were supreme projects, the worthy winner was Physics Lab Courses in Corona times project which enables students to conduct experimental physics at home.
The KITE Award ceremony was followed by an aperitif which gave participants, jury and winners another opportunity to connect and discuss their experiences.
Showcase MOOC: Designing Resilient Regenerative Systems
Supported by Innovedum, a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is happy to introduce itself: The new ETHZ Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) series entitled “Designing Resilient Regenerative Systems” (DRRS) directly addresses sustainability transitions in complex systems as for dealing with nested crises. Professor Tobias Luthe tells us about his new MOOC and why it’s so exciting.
The DRRS MOOC series hybridizes sustainability science, systemic design and transformative action. It provides worldviews, tools, illustrations and transformative networks to build capacities and engage in systemic innovation of complex systems. The MOOC series is featuring a virtual-real didactic concept, where local physical social outdoor action in the region the participant lives, is stimulated and incubated by virtual means.
The learning content is focused on stimulating new cultures beyond the current often disciplinary and compartmentalized approach to science: for hybridizing the analytical tools of science with the iterative doing of design, and the urge for transformative action. And this across spatial and governance scales, from green chemistry, materials, products, buildings, cities, landscapes, regions and transnational cooperation.
The MOOCs’ didactics are designed to combine time and place independent virtual learning through pre-recorded conversations and presentations, both accessible as movies and audio files, readings, and practical engagement outside in nature. Virtual content is meant to stimulate physical and social interaction in the bio-region where the participant lives. Systemic Cycles takes the participants on a conscious exploration of place and regional supply chain actors on their bicycle, to playfully learn systemic design methods, to weave together local and regional networks and to explore the inner self through physical activity. An accompanying visual mapping process called Gigamapping acts as a designerly way to co-create your own learning journey and connect across the MOOC series to your final transformative design project. Your personal QUEST guides you through your learning journey. Weekly live tutorials in an online forum offer opportunities to discuss and brainstorm with teachers. Participants learn together with diverse experts in their field – sustainability scientists, systemic designers, consultants, local and European politicians, book authors, builders, mountain guides, self-compassion trainers, and together co-create and connect communities of practice for learning and engagement opportunities Starting May 9th 2022 on EdX – free participation w/o costs possible.
Exciting real-world illustrations will take participants to Hemsedal Norway, Annecy France, Ostana Italy, and Mallorca Spain – from material supply chains, to products, buildings, communities and their services, to landscapes, bio-regions, and transnational cooperation. This offers a comparative understanding of communities and regions undergoing sustainability transitions across different contexts, cultures, climates and geographies.
The prominent methods participants will learn are systemic design and systems-oriented design, social network analysis, resilience assessment, life cycle and footprint analysis, circularity mapping, visual dialogue, cross-scale design, “view from above” perspectives, biomimicry, transdisciplinary research, real-world elaboration – and how this “cocktail” of methods becomes part of new cultures to deal with complexity and uncertainty.
Exam-Moodle update released: Introducing the Freehand Drawing question type
Sandra Hundseder & Samuel Witzig
On Oct 12, 2021 ETH’s Exam-Moodle received its biannual feature update. This update introduces useful new features and a large number of small bugfixes and improvements for On-Campus Online Examinations. After a short overview of the most important new features, we provide a more detailed overview of the possibilities of the Freehand Drawing question type and improvements to the External Question type.
Overview of new features
Floating timer: the time remaining is now always visible for students, making it easier for students to know how much time they have left for the exam.
ETH’s own question type “Freehand Drawing” is now available by default. It introduces very powerful features for exams on our convertible laptops used in mobile On-Campus Online Examinations (more details below).
In the essay question type, a maximum size for file uploads can now be set. This feature may be helpful if you use third party applications in your On-Campus Online Examination. Besides setting a maximum file size, you can also define which file types your students can upload in addition to the number of attachments allowed (already introduced with an earlier feature update).
“External” question type (for exams using Code Expert): Moodle now sends students’ Legi-number to Code Expert. There are also several improvements that reduce errors when creating/editing external questions (more details below).
You may already know Freehand Drawing from its use in formative quizzes on the ETH Course-Moodle. You now have the option to use it in your On-Campus Online Examinations as well. To ensure adequate usability, On-Campus Online Examinations with Freehand Drawings are conducted exclusively on mobile devices where students have access to a touch screen and digitizer pen for their digital drawings and sketches.
The question type Freehand Drawing enables the simple and intuitive creation of digital freehand sketches. Please find more information on the functionality of this question type and how to use it here.
Using Freehand Drawing in an On-Campus Online Examination
The Freehand Drawing question type offers a variety of benefits and opportunities to you as an examiner. The main argument for choosing Freehand Drawing over other question types, such as Drag & Drop or Multiple Choice questions, is that students have to actively create their responses, rather than just recognising predefined answers as correct or incorrect. This facilitates assessing deeper levels of knowledge and understanding. Furthermore, the students do not have the possibility to simply guess the correct answer. Freehand Drawing provides the opportunity to use new kinds of questions in your exam. Drawings, annotations and markings of pictures facilitate the contextualized assessment of student knowledge. Finally, using the Freehand Drawing question type instead of sketches on paper can facilitate clear assessments of students’ answers. Instead of erasing sketches made on paper, students can simply undo and erase any drawings, annotations or markings.
What to consider when using Freehand Drawing
Although Freehand Drawing is a handy tool for assessing your students, some aspects demand attention in order to make your exam a success:
Advise your students to use the Text tool available in Freehand Drawing when making annotations, instead of writing with the pen. This way they have more space for writing and can more easily edit the text, and their answers are easier to read.
In the problem statement, clearly define what you expect from the students in order to achieve full points.
Calculate enough time for answering the question. Freehand Drawing questions need more time to answer than classical K-Prime or Single-Choice questions. As a tip: solve the question yourself and see how long it takes you. Based on this time, you can better estimate how long it will take the students. We recommend at least doubling the time it took you for students.
Familiarise students with the question type in good time. Use the question type already during the semester in formative tests. Point out the important functions (e.g. undo, redo, full screen, zoom, delete) to the students so that they know how to use them in the exam.
Freehand Drawing questions must be marked manually. It is important to prepare a sample solution or an assessment scheme to ensure uniform assessment and to facilitate the work of the assessors.
If you use the external question type in your exams, there are four new useful features:
Moodle now sends students’ Legi-number to Code Expert, making it easier to cross check exam results.
LTI-link verification is now improved – Moodle now checks more reliably if the entered LTI-link is valid.
Changing LTI-links after you have created external questions has led to technical issues in past On-Campus Online Examinations and should therefore be avoided. Once you have created and saved the external question, the Tool URL-field is now locked. To unlock (e.g. for testing), choose “Show more…”
Using the same LTI-link in two or more questions can lead to technical issues in On-Campus Online Examinations and should therefore be avoided. Moodle now warns you if you already used an LTI-link in another question
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to make your Moodle course both more effective and visually appealing. The following tips are a quick and fun way to introduce ideas for improving your Moodle course using principles of good website design. Lecturers at ETH Zürich can learn more using Moodle in the self-paced online course “Building an effective Moodle course”. Read more about the course.
What are your essential tips for making Moodle course more visually appealing and effective for learning? We would love to read your comments on this topic.
STACK steht für “System for Teaching and Assessment using Computer algebra Kernel”. Konkret handelt es sich hier um ein in Moodle integriertes Assessment-System für die Mathematik und verwandte Disziplinen, das auf dem Computer Algebra System Maxima basiert.
Mit dem neuen Fragetyp STACK können in Moodle mathematische Fragestellung einfach in Quizzes integriert und automatisch ausgewertet werden.
Nehmen wir das Beispiel einer Integration:
Die Eingabe der Studierenden wird interpretiert und angezeigt. Dadurch können zunächst syntaktische Fehler eliminiert werden. Doch wieder einmal wird die Integrationskonstante vergessen.
Mit Hilfe eines Antwortbaumes können Dozierende nun individuelles Feedback generieren. Dadurch sind mehrteilige mathematische Fragen möglich, und es kann eine Teilpunktzahl vergeben werden.
Die Studierenden können so schrittweise zu einer Lösung geführt werden.
Darüber hinaus können grafische Darstellungen und Diagramme dynamisch generiert und in eine Frage eingebunden werden.