Moodle Update: New Log In and Forum Functionalities

In August, the Wilmette Institute upgraded its Moodle software to the latest version (Moodle 3.7). The update allows students to log in using their Google or Facebook accounts. Read on to learn how this works, and to discover the new functionalities in the forums.

The New Log in Options are Voluntary. The Wilmette Institute hopes these new options will make it easier for both learners and faculty members to log in to Moodle. Please note:

  • Your usual Username and Password will still work. You may continue to use them exactly as you did before the upgrade.
    • If you do not have a Facebook or Google account, simply continue to log in as you did before.
  • The Facebook log in option will only work if the primary email address you use for Facebook (the address where you receive Facebook notifcations) is the same as the email address you use in Moodle.
  • Be assured that logging in using these new options will not give Facebook or Google access to information in your Moodle account.
    • The information obtained by the Institute’s software from Facebook and Google is minimal (name, email address, profile picture, and language preference) and will only be used for the purpose of granting access to the Moodle learning platform. Wilmette Institute staff cannot access students’ Facebook account information.

      Screenshot of Moodle log in page

      Mood log in screen on a desktop

Screenshot of Moodle log in page on android smartphoneWhere and How to Log in. The new log in options can be found to the right of the blue Log in bar (on a desktop computer) or just below the Log in bar (on a smart phone). In the screenshots above and to the right, the Google log in button is marked with  a green arrow, and the Facebook log in button with a red arrow.

Simply click on either the the Facebook or the Google icon. You will be directed to log in to your Facebook or Google (Gmail) account. Note that if you are already logged in to Facebook or Google on the computer or device you are using to log in to Moodle, you will not be required to log in again. Moodle will simply redirect you to your Moodle Home Page. The process takes just a few seconds.

If you have more than one Google account, when you click or tap the Google log in you will be asked to choose the account you wish to use “to continue to wilmetteinstitute.org.” You must choose the account that matches your Moodle email address.

New Forum Functionalities. You may have noticed  the default text box that appears when you make a reply to a forum post in Moodle has no editing icons at the top! This makes posting replies much quicker, but if you need to attach an image or file, or to make a clickable link—any advanced editing at all—you must click “Advanced” at the bottom of the post. This will bring up the usual editing functions. If you have already typed some text into the post, don’t worry. It will still be there after you click “Advanced.” This applies only to forum replies. If you initiate a post, the editing icons appear as usual.

As shown in the “before” screenshot below, Moodle now provides a count of the number of words in every post. This will help faculty and administrators in measuring engagement, and will be especially helpful for college courses, in which students who are taking a course for credit are required to meet certain standards.

Screenshot showing the default text box for reply posts.

Reply box before clicking “Advanced” (bottom right side, outlined in red)

Screenshot showing advanced editing icons

Reply box after clicking “Advanced.”

Private Facebook Replies. This option is not available to students. Only faculty and administrators are able to make private posts. Some faculty members have already begun using this option, so here is what to expect if you are a student, followed by notes for faculty members on how and when to use private posts.

For Students: All private posts can be identified by the following notice in small print at the top of the post: “This is a private reply. It is not visible to other participants. You will not be able to reply to this post.” Private replies are not forwarded to other students. Only the faculty in the course can see them. You will not be able to reply to the post, but if you wish to respond you may of course email or message the faculty member through the normal channels. (See Video Tutorial on How to Send Messages in Moodle.)

For Faculty: The top screenshot above shows the checkbox you will tick to send a private reply. Private replies can be basic or “Advanced.” Here are a few instances where private replies might be useful. These are just a few examples, you will easily think of other ways to use this function. The overall aim is to reduce the number of posts being emailed out to students which are useful only for the student who initiated the post.

    • If a student posts in the wrong forum, you can send him a private reply to let him know you are moving the post, and to show him where to find the post.
    • If a student makes remarks which go against forum ettiquette, use a private reply to remind her of the Institute’s policies, and to let her know the post has been or will be edited (or deleted) at the discretion of the faculty.
    • If a student is clearly struggling with a concept or is going off-topic, use a private reply to encourage, instruct, and guide him or her.
    • If a student posts one or more excellent responses to discussion questions, use a private reply to quietly congratulate them, and if needed to suggest that she or he leave space for other students to also contribute to the discussion.

Faculty members may communicate with each other using private replies. Note that for courses with two or more faculty, each faculty member will be able to see the private posts made by all of the other faculty members.

New Display Options in Forums. One more new feature in the Moodle 3.7 forums is the ability to change how forum posts are displayed. You can change how the forum is displayed using a drop-down menu box at the top left of each forum post. The options, as shown in the screenshot below, are:

  • Display replies flat, with oldest first
  • Display replies flat, with newest first
  • Display replies in threaded form
  • Display replies in nested form

Screenshot showing drop down menu with forum display options

The threaded form is useful if you are looking for a specific post—for example a post that you made, or that your faculty-mentor made. Instead of having to scroll through all of the posts, you can see them displayed at the bottom of the screen as one-liners. Each line shows the name of the poster, and the date. In the example below, the names of two faculty members who contributed to this discussion are highlighted in purple.

The “flat” displays are useful if you want to browse the content of the discussion. You can start reading at the first post by choosing “Display replies flat, with oldest first.” If you only need to see what the most recent posts are, choose “Display replies flat, with newest first.”

The Institute is interested in hearing your thoughts on this upgrade. Are these new features useful? Please send questions or comments to us at: learn@wilmetteinstitute.org.

 

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