Integrating Inspirations outputs into Moodle – to manage files

One of the main criticisms of VLEs is that most people use them as file storage grounds, and even good users of VLEs will find that the nature of them forces them into arranging learning content in linear lists.

I previously blogged about the ability to upload an Inspiration output to Blackboard, and a similar thing can be achieved with Moodle.

For those that aren’t familiar, Inspirations is a piece of Mind Mapping software, that is used in many schools and colleges. What a tutor can do, is arrange their learning material for a lesson into a mind map, with links to any resources in the mind map. They can then ‘package’ the whole thing up, upload it to Moodle, and when the learner accesses it, rather than being presented with the materials in a simple linear list, they will be able to view it in a more meaningful visual map, and clicking on any of the branches that has resources attached will open those resources. Another advantage for a tutor, is if they have lots of files that they want to upload to Moodle, this will actually be a lot quicker as well.

Instructions on how to achieve this

These instructions may seem complicated, but if you try and follow them through it isn’t as bad as it sounds, and like any of these things, once you have done this a few thousand times it becomes a lot easier.

  1. First create your map in Inspirations, hyperlinking branches to any resources that you want to use (these could be files such as PowerPoint, Word or Excel, or web links)
  2. Then go to File, Export
  3. Choose the 3rd tab – headed ‘web pages’
  4. Choose the second radio button (diagram or mind map page)
  5. Click on Save
  6. It will ask you where you want to save it – choose somewhere appropriate, then make a new folder and save it into there – this will package up the output including any files that you have linked to, regardless of where they are stored. This should put an HTM file and a folder of other files into this folder.
  7. Find the folder that you have just saved this output to, and zip it (right click on the folder, and choose ‘send to compressed folder’.
  8. In Moodle go to the files section, and choose upload – locate the zip folder you have just created, and upload it.
  9. In Moodle unzip this folder.
  10. Then in Moodle go to the area where you want to put your resources, and choose to ‘Link to a file or website’ option
  11. Browse for the HTM file that will be somewhere in your ‘files’ section and link to this, give it a name and save.
  12. What you should now see is a link appearing in your Moodle page, which if clicked on takes you to your visual map.

If in the future you want to amend any of the resources, you either have to go through the process above, or if it is just one file, as long as you keep the filename the same, you can just put this into the ‘files’ area on Moodle over-riding the previous file.

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Creating comic strips

There is a free web-based tool allowing people to create simple comic strips on the computer. It is called ‘stripcreator‘ which I am sure lots of educational filtering systems will blockjust based on the name.

It is very quick to learn how to use, and to create simple comic strips, for example here is one I prepared in about 5 minutes highlighting an actual issue that I have faced in the past.

http://www.stripcreator.com/comics/davefoord/435103

Tools like this I think are great, as if you get students to create comic strips, you are tapping into the more creative and artistic characteristics that many other teaching and learning methods ignore.

A-levels conference


A-levels conference

Originally uploaded by Dave Foord

Today I am presenting at a conference organised by Sector Training, on A-Levels. I have a 1 hour slot to cover as many ways that social software can be used to support and enhance the A-Level learning experience, and have taken this photo on my phone, uploaded it to Flickr, then sent it from there to my blog.

Libraries, e-learning, and Learning & Teaching

A few days ago James Clay made a posting in his blog titled ‘College, universities and the digital divide‘ in which he made the following statment:-

I do believe it is important that the e-learning and learning resources functions within an FE College if not managed by the same person, the relevant managers should be working closely together. Libraries need to embrace the digital challenge not try and fight it.

What James has said I completely agree with, but I feel that the above statement needs expanding otherwise it could be misinterpreted.

e-learning can be viewed and treated in different ways, and although the differences between them may not be obvious to the untrained eye, the effects of the differences are significant on the learning experience. Some institutions treat e-learning as being resource centered similar to the HE model where the University library is the centre of the learning experience. A lot of colleges and universities in the UK will have any e-learning managers and support personnel working in the same team as the library usually under a banner of ‘Learning Resource Centre’, and this is OK, but it does emphasise the fact that the resources are at the centre of the learning, not the people.

An alternative view on e-learning is that it isn’t resource centered but people centered, and in particular learners and teachers. The resources are then not the key, but the way that they are used and integrated in the whole learning experience is.

I personally think that this is the better model, and is an area that a lot of institutions aren’t getting right at the moment, which I think will hold them back in the future.

So to come back to James’ original posting, I think the passage needs to have added to it a sentence to the effect of

‘and both learning resources and e-learning should be managed by people responsible for learning and teaching, rather than being seen as parallel or even superior to this area of work.’