October 2020 Moodle News

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We are already on midterm season and we’re still hard at work making improvements to Moodle, supporting instructors, and running webinars to improve your teaching technology use and experiences.

This month’s Moodle News includes information about FlexForward to Online Teaching, Support for Instructors, IDEAS Webinars, Request your Spring Moodle course, Request your Spring Echo360 courses, Moodle tip of the month, Planned Downtimes, and Moodle help and resources.

FlexForward to Online Teaching

The IDEAS Team has built out the University Quality Standards: FlexForward to Online Teaching Moodle and Blackboard courses. These training courses are self-paced and meant to help you every step of the way as you transition and build out your course. Each of the 7 modules includes information, resources, and actionable steps you can take to incorporate what has been presented. We encourage you to explore these modules and content to help you as you design your Fall 2020 courses.

If you have any questions, please contact us at instruct@umass.edu.

Support for Instructors

Even though we’re not on campus, we’re still here to help you with your courses and teaching technology. We have 3 avenues for support, in addition to webinars we are currently running.

  • Support through email. Just reach out to instruct@umass.edu.
  • Schedule an appointment with us. Please send an email to instruct@umass.edu with a brief description of your goals/needs, and suggest a few times you are available between 9am and 4pm, Monday – Friday. We will schedule you in as soon as possible. .
  • Join our Instructor Support Zoom meeting  between 9am and 4pm Monday – Friday to meet with a staff member. Please note that wait times depend on the volume of requests.

IDEAS webinars on teaching technologies and course design!

We are still running our webinars, and we are constantly adding more dates. Our webinars are focused on helping you prepare and create engaging content for the current Fall 2020 and to prepare for Winter and Spring 2021 semester as well. We’re offering workshops on building online and accessible content, creating engaging media, and new ways to deliver lectures to your students. Check out our IDEAS Webinars page for more information and to register.

Can’t decide which workshops to take? Have questions? Don’t hesitate to contact the Instructional Media Lab for help in deciding which workshops are right for you. Contact us at instruct@umass.edu.

Request your Winter Moodle Courses

Winter Moodle courses will be available for request in SPIRE from Wednesday, October 14th. Don’t forget that each semester you will need to request Moodle for the courses you are teaching.

For detailed instructions, see:

Request your Winter Echo360 Courses

Echo360 allows you to create recordings of your lectures to deliver to students. Students can access recordings to learn new content or review content to reinforce the information. The system also allows you to add interactive content and measure student engagement.

Echo360 Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) uses speech to text algorithms to create an interactive transcript for your recordings. After you do a little editing for accuracy, your students will be able to study for exams, find relevant information in recordings, and even turn on Closed Captioning for your media.

Echo360 course requests for Winter  will be available in SPIRE from Wednesday, October 14th. Just like Moodle, each semester you will need to request Echo360 for the courses you want to use it in.

For step by step instructions, see Request Lecture Capture. Once your Echo360 courses are ready, it’s easy to give students access to Echo360 recordings through Moodle.

Moodle Tips of the Month:

  • Sort the Moodle Gradebook Using Groups:
    Using groups in conjunction with the Moodle gradebook makes it easier to filter data or enter grades. Even more when you have a big class and TAs in charge of grading different groups of students. Also, it can be really helpful for those who teach Multi-section courses, since Moodle auto-creates groups for each section. See more details in Sort the Moodle Gradebook Using Groups.
  • You can add user and group overrides for Quizzes in Moodle? These allow you to set special options such as increased time limits, staggered start and end times, and additional time access for students, or groups of students, who need it. For more, check out Configure Special Quiz Access for Individuals or Groups.

Planned Downtimes and Maintenance

Scheduled routine maintenance windows are on Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:30 a.m. Our administrators are continuing to made improvements the Moodle system to adapt the demands on online learning. We will notify users if there are any longer planned downtimes outside of this window.

Moodle Help and Resources for Instructors

To learn more about Moodle or to get help, you can: