Best Moodle modules & plugins

Moodle has many approved Modules & Plugins, but what are the best and most useful ones to try out? Depending on the type of Moodle site you run and how your users use Moodle can determine what is considered a useful module or plugin.

This blog post is just a working list on the best Moodle modules and plugins for a large K-12 school district which is used for student use at home, staff development and as a personal portal to store and show resources via a projector during the school day in the classroom.

Activity Module: Book


Description:
“This module makes it easy to create multi-page resources with a book-like format.”

Rationale: The Book module is great for displaying all types of content. Yes, you are able to display content using the “compose a web page” resource but in the Book module you have a navigation menu where you can navigate to another page with content. You are able to create an outline with sub categories acting as a chapter-book going in order or just an outline of topics.

Why I love this module so much is because the courses that I create have a lot of content in them. I hate putting too much text in the middle column of my course and using the “compose a web page” is a bit hard when I have too much content. With the Book module, it is much easier to organize the content and it creates a more user-friendly way to navigate without having one resource with tons of content on the same page making the user scroll forever.

Here is a simple example of using the Book module for Frequently Asked Questions.

Documentation
Discussion

Activity Module: Questionnaire


Description:
“The Questionnaire module allows users to complete online feedback style forms using a variety of user input methods. It allows you to create your own questions, unlike the Survey module which has presets to choose from, and it allows for more advanced questionnaires than the simpler and easier Feedback module.”

Rationale: No one uses the standard survey module in our district (actually I think we have it disabled). It’s not that they don’t have a need for a survey it’s just because the presets it comes with are not what they want. This module allows users to create their own kinds of surveys. You are able to customize the survey however you want.

Being the admin of our Moodle site I obviously have very different kinds of courses in Moodle. Mine are mostly help pages and giving information – with not much interaction. I can’t say that I have used the Questionnaire module a bunch, however I can see the uses of it for a classroom teacher and I have seen many praises about it online.

Documentation
Discussion

Course Format: Collapsed Topics


Description:
“A new topic based format that attempts to solve the issue of the ‘Scroll of Death’ when a course has so many topics. All topics except zero have a toggle that displays that topic. One or more topics can be displayed at any given time.”

Rationale: Tired of scrolling…and scrolling….and scrolling… in your course? Are your students? This may be your solution! This course format collapses each section in your course and allows your viewers to click on an individual section header to open up that section. This saves you a lot of scrolling time. It’s pretty slick and creates an easy to view course. A drawback *could* be that your viewers can not see what they are looking for right away – they have to click to view things.

Discussion

Block: HTML Block (standard block)

Description: A HTML block is a standard block used to add text or images on a site or course page. The title bar can be left blank.

Rationale: You may be wondering why I included a standard Moodle block. The reason I included this block as a “best” is because of the possibilities and flexibility of this block. If you are not very familiar with HTML and/or CSS this may not be of a lot of use to you. If you are, there are a lot of potential possibilities. This block can be used to insert text, links, images and any other multimedia. You can be creative and link to external, internal or anchor links. I think using the HTML block allows you to be creative and treat your Moodle course as a regular web site. If you are looking for a certain kind of block chances are you can somehow manipulate the HTML block to do what you want.

The HTML block is not only useful on your course homepage – it can also be a tool for you on your My Moodle page (if enabled). If you have certain sites you always visit you can create links in the HTML block and use your My Moodle page as a portal.

Documentation

Module: Database (standard activity)

Description: “The Database module activity allows the teacher and/or students to build, display and search a bank of record entries about any conceivable topic.”

Rationale: Another standard module! When we first rolled out Moodle in our district we did not have this activity enabled. I think mostly because we were not very familiar with it. After awhile, I enabled it and played around with it some. I immediately saw the great potential this activity had. I tried out some of the Database presets and found some great ways to use this activity. I don’t think many teachers are using this activity but it will definitely be something we show our staff when they get better with Moodle. This may be an “advanced” feature we show teachers in the future.

Documentation
Discussion
Creative uses
Database for Databases

Block: Quickmail

Description: “The quickmail block adds a link to a tool that has a checkbox list of all students in the course, and a mail composition text area. You can check the students you like, and email those and only those. This enhances the existing communications systems of messaging (one user) and subscribed forums (all subscribers) by allowing teachers to select a specific subset of students.”

Rational: This is a block that was recommended to me by @carolinekmoore and I have seen get a positive response while doing research online. We do not have this module installed on our site and it would not really make sense for us to do so because our students currently do not have emails. However, we are in the process of getting student emails (Google Apps) and enabling them in Moodle.

Once we get student emails up and running this will definitely be a module for us to look into. This module seems like such an easy and convenient way to communicate with students. Hopefully we will be able to use this next year!

Documentation

Other modules

Depending on the type of Moodle site you run there will be a difference in what modules and plugins are the “best”. Some of the previously listed modules and plugins we currently use and some I plan to take a look at in the future. I know there are many I have missed, so please reply with your favorites. Also, if there are any other links to lists of “the best” Moodle modules please leave a comment.

Related Links:
Moodle Tip – Top Moodle Modules and Blocks (Around the Corner-MGuhlin.org)
Where is a list of the “best” moodle blocks/plugins? (Moodle.org discussion thread)
Moodle Modules & Plugins – Moodle.org
Collaborative Liberal Arts Moodle Projects

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