Differences between Moodle and Blackboard/WebCT short answer questions

There is an important difference between Moodle and Blackboard (WebCT) short answer questions that instructors should be aware of, namely that Moodle short answer questions allow only one answer field.


Multiple Choice Questions in Moodle

Here are some tips for the composition of Multiple Choice Questions in Moodle.


How to build a randomised essay/translation question in Moodle 2.0

In my courses I often use a question of the following format:
  1. Common introduction
  2. Two or more sample passages or questions requiring an essay response
  3. A common form field for the answer to the student’s choice from #2.
The point of this format is to provide the student with a choice of topics. If students all write their essays or translations at the same time, you can build your choice of topics by hand and write them into a single question. The challenge comes if you want to be able to allow your students to write the test asynchronously, as is common with Learning Management Software. In such cases you want to be able to draw your essay topics or translation passages randomly from a test bank. Read the rest of this entry »

Manual Grading of All Questions in Moodle 2.0

Manually grading in Moodle 2.0 seems to be causing many faculty members at the U of L trouble. Here’s how to do it. Read the rest of this entry »

How to setup a signup sheet in Moodle

You can create a signup sheet for Moodle using the “Choice” activity. Read the rest of this entry »

How to do stuff in Moodle

Looking for a guide to Moodle?


Modify grub menu in grub2

Recent versions of Ubuntu no longer have the old menu.lst. Now the file is regenerated each time you run update-grub.

If you need to modify simple stuff in the menu (like turning off quiet boot) you can change common lines by editing the following file and running sudo update-grub afterwards: /etc/default/grub.


Bibles for students of literature

Many contemporary students do not know the bible particularly well. This can be because they come from non-religious families, or families whose religious background is not Judeo-Christian. But even many students from quite religious, Christian or Jewish backgrounds find their knowledge of the bible to be less good than they might wish for literary study. A student once gave me a great tip for those who feel you don’t know the bible well enough to recognise allusions to the major stories from the Old and New Testaments: buy a children’s bible. Read the rest of this entry »

Active Pedagogy and University English

For the last four or five years, I’ve been investigating ways of changing my teaching. Like most faculty of my generation, I learned to teach largely by imitation and guesswork. I mimicked the teachers and classes I enjoyed as a student and otherwise experimented with techniques and ideas grabbed magpie-like from various sources. This worked well at Yale, and, as I was recently reminded during a PhD seminar in Digital Anglo-Saxon studies at Memorial, is probably generally a good approach with highly motivated students who already have a sense of how literary scholarship works. It works less well with students who don’t have a natural sense for what is interesting and appropriate in critical discussions or who have yet to develop experience in that kind of debate. Read the rest of this entry »

Schools of Schools of “Humanities Computing”

  When I went to Yale to begin my PhD in 1989, the English department—or perhaps just the graduate students, a group that tends to feel these things more strongly—was mourning the decline of the “Yale School”. New Historicism was the increasingly dominant critical approach at the time, and while it seemed that all the Deconstructionists had been at Yale, none of the major New Historicists were—Stephen Greenblatt got his PhD (and B.A. and M.A.) from Yale, but, like Michel Foucault, seems never to have held a faculty appointment there. I was thinking of this sense of “school” yesterday, while I was attending the University of Alberta’s Humanities Computing Graduate School conference. Read the rest of this entry »

Digital Plagiarism

I have recently started using plagiarism detection software. Not so much for the ability to detect plagiarism as for the essay submission- and grading- management capabilities it offered. But the system was, of course, originally designed to detect plagiarism—which means that I too can use it to check my students’ originality. To the extent that one semesters’ data is a sufficient sample, my preliminary conclusions are that the problem of plagiarism, at least in my classes, seems to be more-or-less as insignificant as I thought it was when I graded by hand, and that my old method of discovering plagiarism (looking into things when a paper didn’t seem quite “right”) seemed to work.1 This past semester, I caught two people plagiarising. But neither of them had particularly high unoriginality scores: in both cases, I discovered the plagiarism after something in their essays seemed strange to me and caused me to go through originality reports turnitin provides on each essay more carefully. I then went through the reports for every essay submitted by that class (a total of almost 200), to see if I had missed any essays that turnitin’s reports suggested might be plagiarised. None of the others showed the same kind of suspicious content that had led me to suspect the two I caught. So for me, at least, the “sniff test” remains apparently reliable. Read the rest of this entry »

The Old English Alphabet

Old English texts were copied in manuscripts by scribes. These scribes used an alphabet based on the Latin alphabet, but with some native additions and occasionally runes… Read the rest of this entry »

Basic Old English Grammar

Old English and Modern English can be deceptively similar from a syntactic point of view. In particular, word order frequently is the same in the two languages (though Old English is actually probably closer in some aspects of its word order to other Low German languages such as Dutch). This means that it is often possible to translate simple declarative sentences from Old English by simply looking up the meaning of each word in a dictionary… Read the rest of this entry »

The Pronunciation of Old English

The sounds of Old English should not prove difficult, with a few exceptions, for speakers of Modern English. It can be hard at first to get used to some of the spelling conventions, such as the fact that all letters—including final e—are pronounced; but on the whole Old English does not have many sounds that are not the same as in Modern English, and, in most cases, indicated by the same letters… Read the rest of this entry »

An Anglo-Saxon Timeline

This contains a link to an experiment in constructing a timeline of the Anglo-Saxon period using XML. It is very much a work in progress at the moment. The ultimate goal will be to have a synoptic oversight and index that will allow students to click on major events, persons, or cultural artefacts and then see how they fit in with other milestones. At the moment, the chart only includes Kings. And even then still in fairly rough fashion. Read the rest of this entry »
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