Student Guide to Moodle
Updated and expanded guide to everything Moodle at SOU!
|Site:||Southern Oregon University|
|Course:||Southern Oregon University|
|Book:||Student Guide to Moodle|
|Date:||Monday, March 19, 2018, 1:57 AM|
Table of contents
- Welcome to Moodle!
- Browser Requirements
- Logging In
- Accessing Your Courses
- Navigating Your Course
- Completion Check Boxes
- Updating Your Profile
- Participating in Discussions
- Working in Groups
- Working with Assignments
- Basic Software Requirements
- Taking Tests
- Checking Your Grades
- Using Checklists
- Using the Calendar
- Messages in Moodle
- Intro to Internships.com
- Finding SOU Services
- Getting Help
Welcome to Moodle!
If you're new to Moodle, this guide will provide information about getting started and using many of the common tools and features used at SOU.
To navigate through this guide, click on a chapter name in the table of contents on the left or use the arrows in the upper and lower right corner of each page.
After reviewing this book, spend a few minutes in the Test Drive course—go ahead, self-enroll then kick the tires and slam the doors! Once you're enrolled, you'll find the course listed at the bottom of your SOU Moodle home page under "My courses" or under Public in the list of "Courses Available to You" in the upper left corner of your home page. Enjoy!
We recommend using a recent version of Firefox or Internet Explorer. While Safari and Chrome may be fine for viewing Moodle resources, we don't recommend using these browsers for submitting assignments or taking tests in Moodle. We also recommend a high speed Internet connection for best performance.
Click on either icon for a free download. Pay attention as you download any software to ensure that you are not installing applications that you don't want at the same time.
You can log into Moodle from Inside SOU or by going directly to the Moodle log-in page. If the Moodle link in Inside SOU does not work, use the instructions for going directly to the Moodle site to access your Moodle courses.
- Logging in through Inside SOU: Log in to Inside SOU and click on the Moodle link at the top of the page. (There's no need to log in again.)
- Going directly to the Moodle site: Go directly to Moodle at https://moodle.sou.edu. Click on SOU Account Login. Enter your SOU network user name in the Username field. Enter your SOU network password in the Password field. Click on the Login button.
For assistance with logging in, contact the SOU Help Desk at 541.552.6900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accessing Your Courses
Be sure you are logged into Moodle before attempting to access your courses. There are three ways to access your courses:
- Courses Available to You: This block is located on the top left side of the Moodle home page. If you have registered for a course and your instructor has made it available in Moodle, it will appear under its corresponding category (for example, Fall 2017 as shown here). Click on the plus sign (+) in front of each category to see your available courses (or click on the minus sign (–) to hide them again). Click on the course name to open your course.
Notes: You can hide this entire block by clicking on its title bar. If you don't see any categories at all under the heading, it's possible you hid them by mistake. If so, click once on the title bar to bring them back.
Don't panic if the category for your next term is not listed in this block—that just means that none of your instructors has made any of your new course sites available yet. See "What to Do If Courses are Missing" on the next page for more information.
- My courses: This list is located in the center column under announcements and links to Moodle guides. Courses for the current term are listed first, followed by any courses from prior terms that are still available to you. (You cannot hide any courses in this list. The only way to remove a course from the list is to ask the instructor to make it unavailable.)
- Dashboard: While you cannot adjust the Moodle home page where you land after logging in, it is possible to customize your "Dashboard" to display the courses that you want to see now and hide the rest. To access your Dashboard, click on your name in the upper right corner and use the pull-down icon to open the user menu. Click on Dashboard. These instructions explain how to customize your course list. Once your page is customized, just click on "Dashboard" after you log in and you'll be ready to open the courses that you need today.
What to Do If Courses Are Missing
Some instructors don't make their courses available until after the start of the term, and others do not use Moodle at all.
If a course for which you are registered does not appear in your list of courses AFTER the term starts, please take both of the following steps BEFORE contacting the Help Desk:
- Verify that you are registered for the course. Wait-listed courses will not be available to you in Moodle.
- Make sure that your instructor has made the course available.
To find out if the course is available, locate the Search courses field just above the list of My courses on your Moodle home page. Enter the CRN of your course in the search field and click on Go. If the CRN is displayed, check the term "category" to see if it is the course you're looking for. (If you search by the course number, be sure to verify the CRN.) If you don't find the CRN listed for the current term, your instructor has not yet made the course available to students. Contact your instructor to see if he or she intends to use Moodle.
If your instructor has made the course available to students and you are fully registered for it and you still don't see it in your list of courses, contact the Help Desk. Be ready to provide the following information:
- Your full name and SOU email address.
- Course name and CRN.
Please note: If a course has been made available while you are already logged into Moodle, you will need to refresh your Moodle home page to see the course. (In most cases, you can refresh the page by clicking on the circular arrow on the browser address bar.)
Navigating Your Course
To open a course, click on its name. The main course contents appear on the right side of the page. The top section is the course information area, where you will likely see an Announcements link, the course syllabus and other materials posted by your instructor.
On the left side of the page are blocks labeled Administration, Navigation, etc. The Administration block provides access to your course grades. The Navigation block offers access to materials posted in the course plus a link to all of your courses. The Navigation block also provides access to a course participant list, your grades and your dashboard. The Activities block offers quick links to all of the activities and resources posted in your course. With the Quickmail block, you can send email to your instructor or classmates (all messages go to SOU email accounts). Your course will also include blocks for a course calendar, SOU Resources, upcoming events, recent announcements, etc.
Note that each page in Moodle also features a set of Quick Links at the top of the page. The Students link includes links to articles that answer the most common questions students have about Moodle as well as a link to Moodle How To's, a repository of many articles for using Moodle.
A so-called "breadcrumb trail" appears just below the quick links near the top of the Moodle page. Each time you open a new page, a link to the previous page appears on this trail.
- Click on "Home" to return to your Moodle home page (where you land after you log in).
- Click on the course name to return to the course home page (where you land when you first open the course).
Completion Check Boxes
So what's with the check boxes next to activities and resources? Some you can check off and others you can't.....
If a check box has a dotted border, that means that you have to do something in order for the box to be checked off by Moodle: view a page, make a discussion post, submit an assignment or quiz, etc. A solid border means you can check off the item manually.
Which of these require you to do something in Moodle and which doesn't?
Updating Your Profile
Profiles help to build a sense of community. Your Moodle profile will be accessible in any course in which you are enrolled, so you need only create it once and update it as needed. Updating your profile is easy to do!
Editing Your Profile
To view or edit your profile:
- Click on your name in the upper right corner of any Moodle course page and choose Profile.
- Click on the Edit profile link in your dashboard.
- Fill in the city/town field and as many other fields as desired.
- Click on the Update profile button at the bottom of the page when you are finished.
How to edit specific fields in your profile is described in the following pages...
Personalize Your Profile
The Description and User picture fields allow you to personalize your profile and share information about yourself with your instructors and fellow students.
Use the Description field to enter information about yourself such as your background and interests, your major, etc. Remember that the information here will be displayed in all of your courses.
You are encouraged to include a picture in your profile. Here are some things to know about this feature:
- A smaller version of your picture will appear next to your forum postings.
- Your picture must be saved in JPG or PNG format.
- Profile pictures are automatically cropped and resized to 100 x 100 pixels, so be sure to use a close-up of your face, not a full-length photo.
Upload your photo by dragging and dropping it into the file selection box or by clicking on the Add link at the top of the box. (Learn about resizing images in Moodle.)
Note: To return to your Moodle home page after updating your profile, click on Home in the upper left corner of the screen.
Change Your Name
You cannot change your name in Moodle. To officially change your name in SOU records, contact the Enrollment Services Center and submit a name change form. Once you have done this, you can submit a request to have your network and email accounts changed. The request form is available at https://www.sou.edu/assets/enrollment/docs/forms.
While there is an "Additional Names" area in your profile, none of these fields is visible to any other users.
Your Moodle profile is set for your SOU email address. All messages sent from Moodle will go to this address. If you prefer to use an alternate address for SOU email, you can set up your email to forward messages to that account.
Participating in Discussions
Online forums allow you to reflect and share your thoughts about what you are learning. Messages remain posted in the forum for participants to read and respond to within a time frame set by your instructor or any time.
Online discussions are usually considered to be homework, so be sure to review your writing prior to posting your thoughts. Follow your instructor's guidelines carefully to ensure that you receive proper credit for your postings. For example, you might be required to post to a forum at least once during the first half of the week, and then respond to another student's posting by the end of the week.
This handy handout explains how to participate in Moodle discussion forums.
Check out these helpful hints:
Helpful Hint #1: If you spend a lot of time composing a response, you might want to draft it in a Word document and then copy and paste what you've written into your forum message. If you craft a lengthy reply in Moodle itself, select all of the text in the message box and copy it before you attempt to post it, just in case your browser session has timed out without warning. If you need to, you can paste it into a new text box—and avoid the frustration of having to start all over again! Read more about how to avoid losing text in textboxes.
Helpful Hint #2: You may be asked to attach a file to a discussion post in order to share your work with classmates. When you do, be sure your file name includes a file extension (.doc, .xls, .pdf, etc.) so that others will be able to open the file. Learn how to "embed" a web link in a post in case you'd like to provide a link to a web site in your discussion thread.
Helpful Hint #3: You can insert photos in your posts, but be sure to make them a reasonable size (4" x 5" or 300 x 400 pixels, under 100K) before you post them. Moodle displays photos in their "native" size – a full-screen photo of you and that steelhead might be a bit much for the rest of us! Find out how to resize images for Moodle.
The Announcements Forum is used by instructors to communicate important information about the course. You will receive an email whenever your instructor posts to this forum. It's helpful to know that this is not a true forum—it's a form of one-way communication for instructors to post announcements for course participants. You cannot reply to a posting here.
Discussion forums feature a simple interface for entering text that is just for forum posts.
This quick entry interface allows you to enter text just as you do when you're using Facebook or other social media. You can use standard keyboard shortcuts for simple formatting (bold, italic, and underline), but for any embellishments beyond that (inserting links or images, adding bullets, creating a table, etc.), you need to select the advanced editor. Once you open this editor, you'll be able to use all of the formatting options available in our normal HTML editor as shown below.
CAUTION: If you begin to draft your response and then decide that you need to use the advanced editor, copy what you have already written (using Ctrl+C or Command+C) BEFORE activating the advanced editor. When you switch to the advanced editor, anything you have written in the text box will be wiped out. (Moodle will generate an alert that the text will be lost if you continue, so you do have a chance to stop and capture your work.) Use Ctrl+V or Command+V to paste what you copied into the new text box (right-clicking and pasting will not work online due to browser limitations).
This complete guide to editing text describes the icons that you'll encounter in Moodle text boxes. Be sure to note the helpful hints provided along the way.
In order to make spellchecking occur automatically in Moodle's text boxes, spellcheck has been removed from the editing toolbar. In most cases, spellchecking is activated in your browser. If it is not, see these instructions for setting up spellcheck.
Embed a Link
Would you like to insert a URL that others can click on to navigate to a website? Download these instructions to embed a link in any Moodle text box.
Insert an Image
It's not hard to insert images in Moodle posts, but you do need to be careful about image size. Some important things to note about inserting images directly in Moodle textboxes such as forum posts, online text assignments, and glossaries:
- Images must be saved as individual files in order to be inserted in Moodle.
- Acceptable image file types are .jpg, .gif, and .png.
- You cannot copy and paste or drag and drop an image into Moodle. You must use the Insert/edit image icon on the toolbar, as described at right and in the guide linked below.
- Images will display in their "native" (original) size, so be prepared to adjust them for best fit.
Large image files (1 MB and up) are slow to load and take up valuable storage space (that we have to pay for). Learn about resizing images or you can contact the Help Desk for assistance.
The illustration provided here shows how to go about inserting an image. Read about the entire image insertion process.
Subscribe to a Forum
Moodle makes it possible to follow a forum or a discussion thread by "subscribing" to it. Each time a person posts to the forum (or replies to a post) that you're subscribed to, you'll receive an email message. This is really handy for group projects, for instance, as you can be notified when one of your teammates has added a post.
Some forums may be set up so that everyone is subscribed without having the option to unsubscribe. Ask your instructor if you have questions about a particular forum.
To subscribe to an entire forum, use the link in the Forum administration block. To subscribe to a discussion post, click on the Subscribe envelope icon in the forum.
Unsubscribe From Forums
To unsubscribe from a forum, open the forum. Click on Unsubscribe from this forum in the Forum administration block on the left.
Update Your Preferences
In the early days of Moodle at SOU (prior to 2016), accounts were set up so that all users were automatically "subscribed" to discussion forums in their courses. As a result, once you had made a posting to a forum, you would receive an email message whenever anyone else made a post to that forum. That could be a lot of email! If your account was created prior to 2016 and you do not wish to receive these emails, you can turn off this feature by changing your Profile and/or Forum settings.
To disable this setting (and stop future automatic subscriptions):
- Open the user menu in the top right corner of your Moodle page.
- Click on Preferences, then Forum preferences.
- Use the pull-down menu to change the Forum auto-subscribe setting to No: don't automatically subscribe me to forums.
- For your convenience, update the Forum tracking setting to Yes: highlight new posts for me. This setting indicates when new messages have been posted by your instructor and classmates.
- Save changes.
Your auto-subscribe setting will apply to future forums in which you post in all of your course sites. If you are currently subscribed to a forum, you must unsubscribe yourself as shown on the next page. Note: These steps will need to be taken in all of your current courses where you have posted to a discussion forum and generated a subscription.
Working in Groups
From time to time, your instructors may ask you to work on group projects in Moodle. Group work is conducted in specially designated discussion forums and in chat sessions reserved for groups. In both cases, Moodle offers two settings for group activities, visible groups and separate groups:
- Visible Groups: Everyone can see the work done by every group, but may only contribute in their assigned group.
- Separate Groups: Only group members (and the instructor) may contribute and view the group's work.
Working in Your Group Forum
In your designated group forum, click on the Add a new discussion topic link to post a message to your teammates. You can also use the Reply button to respond to a post made by one of your teammates.
To share files with your group members, open the forum designated for your group work. Use the Add a new discussion topic link to post a message and attach your file(s). (If you need to attach multiple files and the forum is set up to accept only a single file, ask your instructor to adjust the forum settings—it's easily overlooked in the forum creation process.)
Who's in my Group?
Moodle is a bit secretive about informing you of who else is in your group. One way to find out is to click on Compose new email in the Quickmail block in your course site. Click on the name of your group under Potential sections and click on Add. You can also ask your instructor to post a list of groups and their members in the site.
Working with Assignments
Moodle features three different types of assignment links:
- File uploads—submit one or more files
- Online text—enter text in a textbox
- Offline activity—perform a task that doesn't result in a digital artifact
You'll recognize an assignment by the submission icon that accompanies it on your course home page.
For more information, see the Assignments module in the Test Drive site.
Upload Multiple Files
You may find that you need to upload a folder with multiple files to an assignment link for a term project. To do so, you will need to compress your folder and create a .zip archive file. Once you have created your compressed file, open the assignment link in Moodle and use the Add submission button to locate and upload your .zip file. Click on Save changes to submit.
Compress Files on a PC
- View Files. Open Windows Explorer and locate the files that you plan to submit.
- Verify Files Names. Review the names of the files you intend to submit. If any files contain # signs or other symbols, rename them to delete the symbols from the file names.
- Prepare Folder. Create a folder with an appropriate name to hold the desired files and move (or copy) all of the assignment files into the folder.
- Compress Folder. Right-click on the folder and choose Send to… then choose Compressed (zipped) folder.
The zip archive will appear in the same location. It will have the same name as the original folder, but it will be displayed with a zipper icon. If your folder view is set to display file types, the file name will include a ".zip" extension. Check the size of the zipped file to make sure it is less than 50 MB.
Compress Files on a Mac
- View Files. Open Finder and locate the files that you plan to submit.
- Verify Files Names. Review the names of the files you intend to submit. If any files contain # signs or other symbols, rename them to delete the symbols from the file names.
- Add file extensions (if necessary). If the file extension (e.g., .doc for a Word document, .ppt for a PowerPoint presentation, etc.) is missing from any of your file names, rename the file to add the correct file extension. Otherwise, your instructor might not be able to open the file. (To prevent this problem in the future, check the "Append file extension" box in the "Save As" screen in Word, PowerPoint, etc.)
- Prepare Folder. Create a folder with an appropriate name to hold the desired files and move (or copy) all of the assignment files into the folder.
- Compress Folder. Ctrl+click (or right click) on the folder and choose Compress.
The zip archive will appear in the same location. It will have the same name as the folder, but will be displayed with a ".zip" extension and a zipper icon. Check the size of the zipped file to make sure it is less than 50 MB.
Add Files to a Folder
To make it easy for you to share your work with other students, your instructor may give you permission to upload files to a folder in your course site. These instructions explain how to upload and download files from an open folder.
Basic Software Requirements
SOU's official suite of desktop applications is Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). Here are some tips and tools for using Office programs in Moodle:
- Consider drafting long discussion forum responses in Word rather than in Moodle. If your Internet connection times out while you are reflecting and writing, you can lose your work.
- When you draft forum or other text responses in Word, you may see the best results for copying and pasting into Moodle if you use the plain text or cleanup messy code icons in the text box toolbar. Using this tool will reduce formatting problems in Moodle text boxes.
Don't Have MS Office?
How to Obtain MS Office
If you do not have MS Office installed on your computer, you have options:
- Take advantage of web-based versions of MS Office compatible applications in Google Docs (overview of Google Docs).
- Log into Inside SOU, then open Office 365 from the Online Services block to download the latest version of Office or work in the application you need in the Cloud.
- Enter your SOU email address and click Sign in as shown below to open Office 365.
- Download Office or select the application you want to use and open it. You'll be able to save your files in a folder at Office 365 if you work in the Cloud.
Do you have all of these utility applications installed on your computer? Click on a logo to download the latest version. (See important note below before you start.)
for viewing pdf files
multimedia flash player
for playing audio
and video files
Please note: Some of these free programs may include optional software or email sign-ups for news and updates. You do not have to sign up for or install the optional (EXTRA) stuff. It is advisable NOT to check the optional boxes. Your free downloads will work just fine without the optional features.
You will likely take quizzes and tests in Moodle while you are studying at SOU. These Testing Tips include good information that you'll need to know to get started.
When you open a quiz attempt, you'll find a screen that looks similar to this:
Navigation links in the upper left corner show you where you are in the quiz and allow you to move back and forth between questions. Click on a question number to return to it.
If the quiz is timed, you'll see a clock that displays the time remaining.
Of course, you'll find test questions and possible answers. You'll see the points possible for each question. Note that you can "flag" a question if you wish to return to it.
Click on the Next button to move to the next page of questions. Your answers are automatically saved when you move to a new page.
For more information about tests in Moodle, check out the related module in the Test Drive course.
In some cases, you can review your quiz results immediately after you submit a quiz. Other times, you may just see your grade at first, but after the quiz deadline you can review the results. Check with your instructor if you have any questions about reviewing a quiz.
Checking Your Grades
Many instructors use Moodle's gradebook feature, but not all of them do so. Some instructors "weight" their grades, while others add up all of the scores and compute your grade based on the percentage of the total possible points you earn.
Three things to keep in mind:
- Not all grades may be reflected in the grade book. Some instructors use complex grading formulae that don't lend themselves to Moodle's gradebook. Be sure to ask your instructor any questions you have about the gradebook.
- Your total points possible may not match someone else's. In most cases, the total points possible in your gradebook will reflect only the items graded so far. Thus, if your instructor has entered a grade for the paper you turned in on time, but has not yet graded your friend's late paper, your total possible score will differ from your friend's.
- Your instructor might also use "Moodlerooms Grader" to enter grades and feedback. Check there for feedback, too.
To check your grades, click on the link labeled Grades in the Navigation block found on the left side of your course home page.
If you have a lot of courses in your navigation block, you can also get to your grades by opening the user menu in the top right corner of the page and selecting the Grades link. From there, click on the name of your course to see your grades.
For more details about checking your grades, see the related book posted in the Test Drive site.
Rubrics & Checklists
An instructor may choose to assess your work using a rubric or checklist. Read about how to view a rubric or checklist before and after your work is graded.
One feature that you may encounter is a checklist item that will list things you need to do for class. Here's an example:
When you open a checklist, you'll see a list of things to accomplish for this section of the course, instructions about due dates or assignments, and your progress so far. Note that each item provides a direct link to that activity.
Autocheck vs. Auto/Self Check
The checklist above is set up so that the boxes will automatically be checked off as you complete the activities posted in the section. Items will be marked as complete as they get checked off on your main course page. You can tell that autocheck is in place because the check boxes are grayed out. In the example below, items will be checked off as you complete them and you can also check things off yourself. The check boxes in this case are white.
Your instructor may also add a course block for checklists which will allow you to quickly view your progress and link directly to a checklist.
Using the Calendar
Classes, homework, exams, papers, quizzes, parties, concerts, movies... The list goes on and on. You have so much to do, and it can be difficult keeping up with it all. How do you do it? One solution is to use your Moodle Calendar. The calendar can become a great planning tool for your school and personal life. On your Moodle Calendar, you will see different types of events, assignment due dates, and course or school reminders. The Moodle Calendar can be accessed from your Moodle home page and may be found on some of your course pages.
In this video tutorial, you will learn how to use the Moodle calendar.
Source: Ecclesia College.
Messages in Moodle
Choose when you'd like to receive messages from Moodle!
To customize your settings, click on the user menu next to your name in the upper right corner of your screen and choose Preferences.
From the list of options displayed, click on Notification preferences.
Email messages and pop-up notices will be sent to you according to the options that are checked in the notification configuration page shown below. You can choose notifications to be made when you are online—logged into Moodle—or offline—not logged into Moodle. To change these settings, click the boxes in the configuration table. The default settings will suit most students.
Internships.com is a free service that allows you to search for internships and entry-level jobs anywhere in the country. It also features a resume building application and makes it possible for you to apply for positions directly from the Internship.com portal in Moodle. To find out more about the kinds of work at which you might excel, spend a few minutes in the skill assessment area.
Note: This service does not replace CareerLink. You will find more internships in the Rogue Valley by searching the CareerLink database.
Build Your Resume
You can create a resume within the Internships.com app or upload a resume in pdf, text or Word format.
Use the Edit links and the Click here ... links to create your resume.
The Resume Readiness graphic will track your resume-building progress.
When you've completed your resume, click on 2. Search & Apply to look for employment opportunities.
Search for Work
Enter the kind of work you're interested in doing or your major in the What are you interested in? field. In the Where? field, enter the name of a town or city where you would like to work.
When you click on Search, you'll see a results list like this one for a search for a marketing position in Seattle. Click on the position name to find out more about it.
You can refine your search by the kind of position you're looking for and narrow or broaden the search radius field. Filter your results by locations, employers, and paid/unpaid opportunities. Note the legend in the lower left corner that is applied to each position. All of the positions shown here, for instance, are part-time. Click on Search again if you have refined your search or added filters.
When you open a position description, you'll find a variety of information available to you. Note that you can apply directly from this page (if, that is, you have already created or uploaded a resume). You can also find out if any of your social media contacts have ties to the company by clicking on the Who button.
Q. Do I have to create a resume to look for an internship or to use these career building tools?
A. No, you do not have to create a resume in order to use these tools.
Q. I'm getting emails from Internships.com. How do I turn them off?
A. In the fine print at the bottom of the email you'll find an unsubscribe link (shown in the image at right). Follow the instructions to unsubscribe.
Q. Where can I get more answers about Internships.com?
A. Contact Max Brooks at email@example.com.
Finding SOU Services
These links will connect you to a wide range of student services at SOU.
- Visit Moodle How-tos for quick answers to frequently asked questions and documentation for students.
- Try out Moodle functions—enroll yourself in the Test Drive site posted under Public courses.
- Check out these resources for online students.
Ask for Help
Help is available! To help us help you faster and better:
- Let us know what course you're asking about—the CRN is displayed in the "breadcrumb" trail at the top of each page.
- Be as clear as possible about the problem you are having—let us know the name of the activity or resource that is not working for you.
- Check your email frequently in case we have follow-up questions or recommendations for you.
- Let us know when your problem is resolved.
- Call the Help Desk at 541-552-6900
- Email the Help Desk at HelpDesk@sou.edu.
- Go to https://support.sou.edu, log in and create a "ticket" to post your question.