Friday, January 13, 2006

Failing the Moodle Quiz

All right, between getting ready for our upcoming environmental ed trip, and working such long hours to get the Moodle running while still teach all my courses, I've been only averaging a few hours of sleep per night all week. That is my only defense...

On Thursday we went into the creaky old lab to try taking the weekly spelling tests in Moodle. On one hand, using Moodle for spelling tests seem like a true waste of bandwidth. On the other hand, it takes me 30-40 minutes to give the spelling tests since there is more than one group and I must spell all the words aloud as we correct. Then I must recorrect them since quite a few of the children either don't really care, or, they care enough to be dishonest. In light of all of that, taking the weekly spelling test in Moodle seemed like a way to free up more of my time for more worthwhile things.

To that end, I used the quiz module to set up a spelling test for each group. I used the short answer portion of the module. I still have to dictate the words and they enter them in. However, when they finished the test, they could instantly see their results, which according to brain research, is key for making the test a learning experience.

Of course, there are not enough working computers in the old lab for all the children to take the quiz at the same time, so I had one group go first. At first the children had a bit of trouble with the interface until one discovered they could tab to the next field rather than try to scroll using the slowly responsive arrow keys. Kids kept getting lost and we'd go back to to catch them up. At long last, that group finished and submitted their answers only to find that they had all received a score of 0/20 and they couldn't see their itemized results. Scrambling to salvage the situation, I told them to print, but of course, after the third child, the old printer ran out of toner. Admitting temporary defeat, I had the second group take their turns at the computers, and they all had the same scores as the previous group. I told them all not to worry. It was a problem of my creating and they would not be penalized for it.

That night I went into Moodle to figure out why it hadn't worked since it was working so perfectly the night before when I tested it. It was at that point I sheepishly discovered that the Moodle quiz had worked just fine. All the problems were my fault. For the first group I had entered the wrong words. For the second group, I had the correct words but I had them in the wrong order. I couldn't figure out why they couldn't see their itemized results-- it was working fine now. I made the appropriate changes and the next day we retested.

The newer lab was available and all went smoothly except that half the children received an error from the Moodle server saying it was too busy to let them in. This is strange since I've had them all in before, but no matter. We once again tested in two groups and all went smoothly except for the child in the second group who was still logged in as the first group. Oops.

Listening to the children talk, they seemed to like taking the test on the computer, even though a few made typos -- I find they make typos even when writing by hand (c: I'll use the informal survey module at some point to see how they feel about online spelling tests after they've had more experience.