Monday, April 21, 2014

Interactive Uses of the Moodle Choice Activity

Moodle's Choice activity is often one of the most overlooked tools in the Moodle toolbox. But the publishing features and restriction options available for Choice make it one of the most robust and useful tools to promote student interaction within an online course.

Choice allows instructors to create a number of options from which students are limited to choosing but one. Limits can also be set on the number of students who can select a certain option and date ranges can be set during which students might be able to change their responses prior to closing (as opposed to locking them in with their first choice). The publishing features available in Choice allows the instructor to choose when and if the results will be released and whether they will be anonymous or with usernames.

There are a number of creative ways that the Choice activity can be used in a course:

Limiting Group Size: Choice can be used when you need to limit the number of individuals who are able to make a selection and are willing to do so on a first-come, first-served basis. Examples:
    • You are giving a proctored test to 150 students but the testing lab only seats 40 students at a time. The students must choose and commit to the day and time that they will come to the lab to take the test. The Choice is set up with the date and time options and with the restriction to only allow 40 students to pick each option. A report can be printed out and given to the proctor to use as an attendance sheet in the lab.
    •  You are assigning students a research paper with a limited number of options for topics. You set up the Choice with each topic option and limit the number of individuals to 4 per topic. This will ensure that there are enough research materials available on each topic.
Using HTML Options as Choices: In addition to using text options with Choice, you can use anything that you can supply a local or Internet path to. Examples:
    • You are assigning students to write an essay on visual images such as pieces of art, a historical figure, or something related to medical or dental disease. You post the actual images as the Choices and limit the number of students who can choose each image to write about.
    • You are assigning a speech made by a political figure, or a section of a film or a musical piece and you provide links to the videos on YouTube.
Assessing the Composition of a Class: It may be helpful to determine what teaching resources resonate with a unique group of students; to discover individual learning styles of your students; assess student's familiarity with technology; or determine which lecture format they prefer - written or audio. For example:
    •  Begin by pasting the URL to a web-based learning styles inventory in the description box of the Choices setting page, highlight it, and use the hyperlink icon to make it active. Be sure to set the webpage to open in a new window in the Appearance section of the Choice settings page. Set up the Choices inputs to reflect the three learning styles. Set the responses to anonymous and post the results after everyone has voted on their learning style. Use the results to start a discussion or to assess what additional types of learning materials you need to provide to your students.
Track Progress of a Student Project: Choice can act as an accountability tool for students completing semester long projects. At various points throughout the semester, insert a choice activity to track and document student-reported progress. Choice inputs for student selection can reflect the various stages required by the teacher toward completion of the project. Publishing options allow responses to remain unpublished or posted anonymously as a potential motivator for students suddenly realizing they are lagging behind the rest of the class.

Allow Students to Vote on Course Content: Inserting a choice early in the course and allowing students to pick from several future topics provides a level of ownership over the learning process. For example, what 21st century artist or musician would they like to learn more about or what cultural event would they like to participate in as a class?

Flip a Video: The choice activity allows a video to be "flipped" into a simple lesson, making a video interactive rather than passive. To begin, add a content question in the description box on the choice settings page, then embed a video below. To embed a video, click on the HTML icon in the text editor toolbar of the description box, and paste the embed code of the video in the HTML source editor (to find the embed code for a YouTube video click on the share link under the video, select the embed link, and copy the code). Student comprehension of the video can be assessed by their responses to the content question you posted previously.

A Note on Display Options in Choice: Choice allows you to choose whether you want the options displayed horizontally or vertically. Owing to space constraints on the screen, it is easier to fit larger choices in by choosing vertically but students may not choose options lower on the list because they have to scroll to see them. It is recommended that you try size options to experiment with where they all appear on the initial screen.

Conclusion: The Choice activity is one of the simplest tools available in Moodle, but its implementation is limited only by your own imagination. We encourage you to experiment with it and find creative ways to integrate it into your online curriculum. If you would like help setting up and using the Choice tool, contact the ITRC and we will be happy to demonstrate it to you and/or assist your with setting it up.

States, T. & Dulaney, E. (March 12, 2014). Creative Applications for Moodle's Choice Activity. Campus Technology.

Moodle ISU Handout: Choice Activities

Monday, April 7, 2014

Useful Features in Google Drive that Everyone Should be Using

Google Drive is a powerful productivity suite with huge potential in education. Google Drive empowers users with the necessary tools to do everything from store documents to create presentations. Besides the basic features of Google Drive, there are lots of tips and tricks you can introduce to your students to make their Google Drive experience even more productive. This article will introduce you to just a few of the useful features in Google Drive that you and your students should be using.

Research feature

While composing a paper in Google Docs, students can conduct research on any highlighted word or phrase without having to change tabs or open a new window. To use the research feature, highlight the word or phrase that you want to research and right click on it then select "research". A window pane will open on the right-hand sidebar with the search results of your query.

Search for scholarly articles and images:

In addition to doing a web search for a query, you can also search for images, scholarly articles, and quotes related to the word or phrase that you highlighted.


Instead of emailing documents back and forth, they can be shared by typing in the email addresses of the people you wish to collaborate with and giving them editing permission. A link to the shared document will be emailed to them by Google. All collaborators can also see the shared document listed in their Google Drive. Collaborating on a shared document ensures that everyone is working on the same document since it allows multiple people to be in the same document at the same time to make edits.

Brainstorming and Mind-mapping:

The drawing tools featured in Google Docs are perfect for drawing shapes, arrows, text, and importing images to build a visual map for any task. By sharing the document with others, it can also become a team collaboration tool for brainstorming and idea development sessions. The revision history uses colors to highlight and track changes to the Google Doc which makes it easy to see what each person has contributed to the big picture.


Using the comment feature provided by Google Docs, students and instructors can leave feedback on other people's documents. They can also include audio feedback. The student first must share their document with their collaborators and give them permission to edit. To add a comment, right click on the line where you want your comment to appear and click on "comment".

Spell Checker:

Students can correct their spelling and check for errors in Google Docs by clicking on "Tools" on the menu list and then select "spelling" and a pop-up window will display the correct spelling of that word. Google Docs also underlines misspelled words in red as they are typed. To correct the spelling, right click on the word and a pop-up menu will appear with a list of correct spelling options. Click on any word from the menu and the misspelled word will be replaced with the correct word.


There is an embedded dictionary within Google Docs which makes it easy for students to check the definition of a word by highlighting the word and after right-clicking, choose "define". Or you can click on the "Tools" menu and choose "Define".

Equation Editor:

Math and science teachers and students can now use Google Docs to add equations to a document with having to go through an overly complicated process. To access the equation editor, select the "Insert" drop-down menu, and click on "Equations". A pop-up entry box appears where you can enter your formula and/or equation. All the mathematical symbols are grouped in five separate drop-down boxes. A preview box below the data entry field displays what the equation will look like on the page. Once the equation is inserted onto the page, the text editor treats it as one whole unit which can be dragged anywhere within your document. Note: the equation editor is for note-taking only - it does not perform computations.


In addition to text, a wide variety of multimedia materials can be inserted into documents such as web links, images, tables, footnotes, videos, bookmarks, a table of contents, headers and more. To insert, click on the "Insert" menu and then choose the type of media.

Saving in Other Formats:

Google Docs can be downloaded and saved in other formats including: PDF, Microsoft Word, Plain Text, or Rich Text Format. To choose other formats, click on the File menu and hover your mouse over "Download as" and the list of options will appear. Click on the option you wish to use and a new document will be created in that format and saved to your Google Drive.


You can invite others to view a presentation you have made at the same time that you are presenting it by sharing the link to the presentation with them. Students can embed a link to their presentation in their portfolio or resume' by sharing their presentation with anyone who has the link and then embedding the shared link.

Create Surveys Using Google Forms:

Students and Instructors can use Google Forms to create surveys to be used for research, project evaluation, self assessment, instant response during a lecture or presentation, anonymous surveys, story creation and collaboration, and much more. For more ideas on using Google Forms view the slideshow at 80 Interesting Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom.

For More Information:

9 Things Every Student Should Be Able to Do With Google Drive. (March 8, 2014). Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

6 Steps to Add Voice Comments to Google Docs. Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

100 Ways to Use Google Drive in the Classroom. (Feb. 7, 2014). TeachThought.

80 Interesting Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom. (April 30, 2013). TeachTought.

52 Tips and Tricks for Google Docs in the Classroom. (Nov. 16, 2012). TeachThought.