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Feature: Moodle 3.5 Enhancements

We thought that it might be helpful to highlight some of the new and enhanced features that will appear in Moodle following our next upgrade (scheduled for the week commencing 29th July). Whilst there are many small enhancements that will contribute towards an improved user experience, there are a few areas that we’d like to highlight here.

New Features

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

One of the most significant new features that will be in evidence after the upgrade is not technically a Moodle feature. Staff will be aware that following a recent review, a decision was made to replace the originality checking service used at Bath with an alternate service (known as Urkund). Whilst the two systems are very similar (at least in terms of the Moodle integration), originality reports will look very different after the upgrade has taken place.

As you would expect, the originality reports will highlight any occurrences of matching text that have been found, but they will also highlight any unusual text patterns (which may indicate an attempt to obfuscate the text). Another nice feature is the ability to quickly highlight any text that sits inside quotation marks or brackets as this can be helpful when checking whether an originality match has been appropriately referenced or not.

There are a number of ways to navigate around an Urkund originality report, and an example report can be viewed online. An introductory overview of the interface is also available for those who would find it useful.

Another new feature that we'd like to highlight is the inclusion of an audio recorder within Moodle's text editor (highlighted below).

Screenshot of audio recorder within the text editor

This simple tool makes it easy to create and embed recordings (of up to two minutes in length) within courses. Recordings can be added to most areas (such as forum posts, quiz questions and wiki pages), opening up new opportunities for course and activity design.

The team is also pleased to announce the in-house development of a tool designed to support peer assessment of group activities. The 'Group Peer Review' activity is designed to run alongside a group assignment activity allowing group members to rate each others contribution to the assignment and leave comments. The final marks from the Group Peer Review are calculated as a combination of the original group assignment mark (allocated by the Teacher) and the peer ratings received individually from other group members. The algorithm for the final mark calculation can be adjusted using a weighting setting.

Whilst this tool is currently only available to a limited group of Moodle teachers, we would encourage anyone interested in exploring this sort of functionality to contact the team for an initial discussion.

General Enhancements

User management has been streamlined in Moodle 3.5 and we are pleased to announce that teachers can now filter, bulk edit and delete users who may have self enrolled on their courses. This brings the functionality in line with that already available for the management of manually added users, and helps to make course administration a much quicker task.

Also supporting course administration, staff also may recall that last year, the team developed a tool that would facilitate the automatic transfer of assignment and quiz grades into SAMIS. We are pleased to confirm that this tool has been further extended to include the ability to transfer decimals to SAMIS (which can easily occur as a result of multi-part quiz questions or rubrics).

Finally, the quiz activity now allows Teachers who are using essay style questions to define the file type that should be uploaded by the student). As you might imagine, this type of quiz question requires manual marking by a member of staff, and a further development enables the marker to upload a response file (perhaps an illustrative graphic or piece of audio feedback) when marking these question types.

We hope that staff will enjoy using Moodle 3.5, and whilst we don't expect the changes to cause any confusion, the team will be happy to answer any questions that staff might have.