Field work and assignments

Using Moodle assignments offline

  "Moodle mobile app" by John Matthews.

Crucial to science education is hands-on involvement: showing, not just telling; real experiments and field trips and not just virtual reality.  Martin Rees

It is well established that a field trip is different to usual teaching, both in location and practice. Technology, though, is often integral, whether it be getting people to their destination or allowing them to monitor and research when on location.

Moodle can now travel with you, too. The Moodle app allows for a course and its contents to be downloaded to your device, to be browsed later.

In addition, creating a Moodle assignment (not a Turnitin assignment) allows students to submit work to that assignment even when not online (actual submission does depend on a data connection, but that can happen later). Those, like me, with a humanities background may immediately be wondering how that can be useful – would I first write my essay on a computer, then transfer it to my phone just to upload it later from my desert island? I do not expect to see essays created in the field and uploaded that way. But if part of an assignment is to record findings, how much can be accomplished with pictures from a phone? Anything that can usefully be recorded in that way can be quickly and easily added to an assignment submission.

How to do it

The Moodle assignment should be setup in the usual way; there is no special setting needed to make it available through the app. Switch editing on in a module and add ‘Assignment: Moodle’ from the list of activities.

Add a Moodle assignment from list of activities

Other than making sure the dates for submission are right (particularly the ‘allow submissions from’ date, so the assignment is available for students to use when needed), the default settings are usually fine. The number of files allowed is just 1, though, so increase that number (under ‘submission types-maximum number of uploaded files) if needed. It is good practice to use the description to let students know how many files they are expected to upload, and how many is the maximum.

Students must download the app (available for Windows, Android and iOS).

Students must download the assignment in the mobile app while online to be able to use it offline.

Recommendations

Keep assignments in the same, clearly marked, section – that way students can easily find them in the app.

If you ‘enable download sections’, students can download entire sections to the app, rather than each item individually (ideally, as above, you will have an ‘Assignments’ section, students then download that section, containing all necessary instructions and the submission link). The setting to enable downloads is per module, via the app.

Click at the top right of the screen to see the option (shown below).

Enable download sections

If you choose to download the assignment to your device, you can check student submissions and mark them online if you choose. Make sure to either do so online, or to re-download the assignment after the due date, to make sure you have all student submissions.

Contacts

As ever, please contact your Faculty Learning Technologist for further information or help.

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