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

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