Archive for May, 2012

Importing Blackboard Vista quizzes into Moodle 2

Friday, May 25th, 2012

This is a pain in the butt.

If you get your quiz transferred as part of your institutional migration it’s easy.  If your institution (or the company hosting Moodle for your instution)  allows Respondus to upload to your Moodle server, it’s fairly straightforward.

If neither of the above apply and you want to transfer a quiz that doesn’t contain feedback, it’s slightly convoluted (as I found out earlier).

If you want to extract a quiz from Blackboard Vista that contains feedback and import it into Moodle 2, here is what you do (you need Respondus).

Step one – Extract the quiz from Blackboard using Respondus and convert it to “Blackboard 7.x-9.x”

Step two – Publish using “Save pool to local file for manual uploading”

Step three – Go to the Nash Community College site and download and install Moodle XML Builder

Step four – Open and run Moodle XML Builder using “Blackboard test exported from Blackboard”

Step four – Import the xml file you just created into Moodle using the “Moodle XML

All done.  There are obviously a few more steps in between but thats the jist of it.  If you are a Monash person, give me a call and I’ll fill in the gaps.

There may be an easier way, if there is, please, please let me know.

Good time lapse visualisation

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

A Time-Lapse Map of Every Nuclear Explosion Since 1945 – by Isao Hashimoto

If your kids don’t undersatnd why there were anti-nulcear marches show them this, and then show them the computer used to design the safety system.



OER Text Book Catalog – a uni finally gets around to doing the bleeding obvious

Monday, May 14th, 2012

As anyone who follows this blog knows I have a bit of an interest OER and in particular e-texts.  Higher Ed libraries seem to have been a little slow off the mark in acknowledging/supporting  open texts.  The attitude appears to be (understandably), ‘lets wait and see’, rather than, ‘the big wave is coming, let’s build a sufboard’.

Well not the good folks a Minnesota U.

“Minnesota launched an online catalog of open-source books last month and will pay its professors $500 each time they post an evaluation of one of those books. (Faculty members elsewhere are welcome to post their own reviews, but they won’t be compensated.) Minnesota professors who have already adopted open-source texts will also receive $500, with all of the money coming from donor funds.

“The project is meant to address two faculty critiques of open-source texts: they are hard to locate and they are of indeterminate quality. By building up a peer-reviewed collection of textbooks, available to instructors anywhere, Minnesota officials hope to provide some of the same quality control that historically has come from publishers of traditional textbooks.”

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

Here is a link to the University of Minnesota’s site

Well Done!

Better Google searches for students and academics

Friday, May 11th, 2012

As we all know, the Internet is the repository of almost infinite amounts of crap.  It is quite easy to find quite convincing appearing sites that attempt to present black as white, or opinion as fact.  What students need is the critical ability to find a range of information, so when someone like Lord Monkton makes a well publicized and convincing statement about the inaccuracies of climate research, students can immediately find independent, qualified opinion that contradicts his statements (and that he has no actual qualifications in the climate field and that he is frequently employed as speaker by big polluters).

Well Google has set up a site to help students get the results they need, and how to assess the validity of sources, and how to go beyond the easiest result.

“Google makes it simple to find the information you need, but there are strategies for finding higher quality sources even more easily. Learn the basics of predictive search, a method for drawing on what you know about what you need to find it faster, including successful word choice and using the filters on the left-hand side of the screen to uncover information you never dreamed was possible.”

Of course one thing I would recommend is not relying totally on Google.  You should look at other search engines as well.  People do play tricks to make their sites appear at the top of the list, and Google is a business so there is a risk that they will de-prioritise sites that may negatively impact their interests.

Flipped Classroom and TED-ED

Monday, May 7th, 2012

If you don’t know what TED Talks are go here.

Anyway the TED Talks people have added an Educational section, TED-Ed, which has gained a fair bit of attention.

“This platform also allows users to take any useful educational video, not just TED’s, and easily create a customized lesson around the video. Users can distribute the lessons, publicly or privately, and track their impact on the world, a class, or an individual student.”

New TED-Ed Site Turns YouTube Videos Into ‘Flipped’ Lessons –  Nick DeSantis

The Problem with TED-EDShelly Blake-Plock


It basically allows people to add quizzes about videos.  It’s a useful resource but, like the Khan Academy, it is just a resource not a learning strategy.  “Flipping” a class is much more than a video and questions.

Weekend funny – A better graduation speech

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Charles Wheelan economist and academic penned an essay for the Wall Street Journal,  “10 Things Your Commnecment Speaker Won’t Tell You“.

This is my favourite.

“You are smart and motivated and creative. Everyone will tell you that you can change the world. They are right, but remember that “changing the world” also can include things like skirting financial regulations and selling unhealthy foods to increasingly obese children. I am not asking you to cure cancer. I am just asking you not to spread it.”

How to write better questions.

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Cathy Moore is great.  If you are at all interested in not boring your students to failure, you should check her site.

If nothing else check this post Scenarios,what are they good for? and learn how to write better questions.

Here is an example from Cathy’s post showing the difference between a traditional and scenario question.

Quiz question

Which of the following is the most secure way to carry sensitive data?

A. On a laptop

B. On a USB drive chained to your wrist

C. On a CD titled “The Chipmunks Sing Disco Duck”

Feedback for incorrect answer: Incorrect. Try again.

Mini Scenario with “showing” feedback

Bob wants to work on the salary data at home. He has a long commute on a train. How should he carry the data with him?

A. On his laptop

B. On a USB drive chained to his wrist

C. On a CD titled “The Chipmunks Sing Disco Duck”

Feedback for A: Bob falls asleep during the commute, and a thief steals his laptop and sells the data. Try again.

Feedback for B: Bob falls asleep during the commute. A thief sits next to him, plugs his USB drive into his laptop while Bob is unconscious, and later sells the data. Try again.

Feedback for C: Bob falls asleep during the commute, and a thief steals all his belongings. The thief breaks the CD into pieces in disgust and no one ever sees the data. This is the best choice.

For the more adventurous, this type of question is one of the building blocks for creating complex branching scenarios.   In Moodle you can use the Lesson module to create quizzes with branching paths.  You can potentially embed a whole case study with multiple paths to success and failure.

Comprehension, critical analysis and decision making all  in a single resource.  I suspect something like this could go a long way to fulfilling your AACSB requirement.

Have a look at this video to learn how.