Learning via Learning Management Systems (LMS) gets prevalent worldwide which means that optimizations and improvements within them will see no end.
Online friendly learning environment can open wide opportunities for teachers and students and resolve common problems that may disrupt the workflow.
Analyzing and grading assignments should be instruction-based and transparent. More importantly, it should let students understand potential mistakes they can make, and how exactly they can be fixed or avoided. Luckily, with plugins extended, grading possibilities for teachers now became real.
1406 Moodle plugins are already crowing the moodle.org directory. The myriads of options that are aimed to extend the capabilities of LMS sometimes make the choice even harder.
Taking into account ratings and feedback, we investigated the ground that holds great potential for managing teacher’s daily grind and grading. Now, this variety is far easier to navigate.
Tracking the progress
The time, activities and the course progress can be managed with Completion Progress plugin. The overview page allows having current activity of the students at a glance. Using colors, the plugin lets educators see which assignments have been completed and which ones were reviewed.
The visual scheme of the progress with colors and references gives the teacher a quick overview of the students’ workload. This way the teacher can identify what students need help with: the assignment completion; change the workflow; or timing, in case the whole class experiences hardship with the exercise or test in the class.
Unicheck has gained a good fame of academically oriented plagiarism detection software for Moodle. The checker has a set of features that distinguishes it from the couple of other options. Each time the scanning takes place, the plugin recognizes in-text citations and references saving the teacher’s time for revision.
Also, it helps teachers to scan the web sources for similarities and compare the assignments between each other, preventing the projects from recycling. The plagiarism checker performs the scanning in a matter of seconds or minutes spending just 4 seconds per page, and then returns the report with highlighted similarities and trackable sources.
Tracking the class attendance
The digital attendance sheet that would give the teacher the ability to track the presence in the class sounds like a good idea. Make it tunable and you get Attendance plugin for Moodle.
The ready-made attendance sheet is generated in the click as the teacher clicks on the "Update Attendance" button. It will have the data involving statuses for the “present”, “absent”, “late” and “excused” students. The report can also include the bonus points collected for attendance.
The teacher can configure the report options, leave comments, print or save it in Excel or text format. Keeping such attendance track is a good way out for the blended learning environments where certain class and lectures attendance is still obligatory for the students.
To-do list planning
Educators can manage the activities of students and check off assignments from the lists as soon as the students complete them using the Checklist plugin.
In order to make the to-do task lists for the students more flexible, teachers can make some items on the lists optional and keep track of students’ progress through the task. Students can leave notes to every checkpoint in the list, commenting them.
The educators manage individual student’s items by adding dates to the items or exporting them to the calendar. The list with featured progress results can be furtherly exported to the gradebooks.
The Grade Me plugin simplifies the teacher’s job by showing the assignments, essays, and courseworks that have been already submitted but not yet graded. It is the best option for organizing the work in the big groups where the workload can be quite messy.
In order to view the ungraded assignments, teachers should have the students organized in one learning course group. If the teacher wants to view all ungraded assignments from all courses the admin or the educator will have to set the block on the front page. Otherwise, the block on the course page will only show the ungraded assignments within the one course.
Diversifying grading methods
Another useful plugin for grading that also provides using the rubrics for the assignment grading. Learning Analytics Enriched Rubric plugin is used to make the assignment grading clear for the students and when the final grade includes various criteria assessments.
How does rubric grading usually work? For instance, the overall score for the essay grade consists of the essay grading rubrics such as the quality of the thesis, the strength of the argument, the structural balance and the number of mistakes. Each grading rubric has teacher-defined score levels (usually from 1 to 50), and as each part is assessed according to the rubric levels, their sum makes up the overall grade.
The plugin includes a variety of options for the rubric grading. One of them titled “enriched” features the ability to incorporate the course learning behavior, times of accessing learning material, etc.
Managing the long courses
Long-winded courses often lead to the situations of so-called 'Scroll of Death', when the topic list gets way too long. If you have courses that exceed the bar of twenty sections, that is the solid sign Collapsed Topics plugin could be of a good use.
The toggle option is used to view the contents of each section of the course. Using Collapsed Topics plugin, the teacher can have the instant view of the topic information without the necessity of refreshing the pages when launching the course resources.
Measuring the engagement
Measuring the engagement and interest within the class is not one of the easiest things to do. Using such plugin such as Question Trends, teachers or admins of the course can get the understanding of how students interact with the material and how they approach the learning process.
Gathering the data about student activities, the system will return it in the SCORM reporting, featuring trends, patterns and other statistical analysis of studying. For instance, this way teachers or admins can gather the information about the number of attempts that the student used in order to pass the quiz or the number of correct answers given to the question in the class.
Few words to conclude
In Moodle, you can significantly improve the existing set of features with plugins. That is one of the greatest Moodle’s advantages. The teacher who will enrich the LMS this way will simply add the useful functions of the app without modifying or changing the core workflow.
As a result, with a right couple of plugins keeping track of students' progress and activity gets easier as grading gets faster and more detailed.
What are your favorite Moodle plugins? Are there some you can’t imagine your teaching life without?