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Currently we are using Moodle to manage our courses here. It has meant structuring the publication and turn in of homework, and has helped in distributing lecture notes and shorter documents to the students.

But Moodle has also functionality like quizzes and a question bank. What are experiences with those? How hard is it to write quizzes (particularly considering the plethora of weird notations we are so fond of)? I have quite a collection of problems (old exams, homework, filched from MSE, ...), mostly written in LaTeX. Any tools to help migrate (if it even makes sense)? How effective is the reuse of questions from one term to the other, does sharing material among colleagues work smoothly in your experience?

Looking a bit further, do you think such quizzes encourage cheating too much? It is quite simple to get somebody else to answer for me, so perhaps this should be used more for self-assessment than grading?

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  • $\begingroup$ I'd also be interested in experiences with Maple T.A., or is that better asked as a separate question? $\endgroup$ – J W May 23 '14 at 15:55
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    $\begingroup$ @JW, it looks different enough to merit its own question. $\endgroup$ – vonbrand May 23 '14 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. I've now asked it: matheducators.stackexchange.com/questions/2414/… $\endgroup$ – J W May 24 '14 at 5:47
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    $\begingroup$ We used moodle for a long while, but we're finding that a combination of edmodo for homework, assignments and videos and google sites for reference material works better. Edmodo is great because you can type [math]\int_0^{\pi/3}\sin^3\theta\cos\theta d\theta[/math] to get $\int_0^{\pi/3}\sin^3\theta\cos\theta d\theta$, a facility I find endlessly useful for answering students questions online. The main irritations are that it doesn't keep you logged in and the mobile app used to not notify properly, but apparently it has started working now. $\endgroup$ – AndrewC May 24 '14 at 16:22
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For already TeXed documents, I have generally attached them to threads in the discussion forum. As an example, I did this with a proof sketch of the Cantor-Bernstein-Schroeder Theorem using a .docx attachment. (Indeed, one of the prospective teachers in the class gave a chocolate-worthy answer!)

enter image description here

More generally, I find that the discussion forum through Moodle (technique 2 here) is quite nice to allow students to post, and, sometimes, to respond to one another. Here is an image of some of the posts from when I was the TA for prospective teachers taking a course on Mathematical Problem Solving:

enter image description here

I blanked out the names of participants other than myself who started threads; as you can see, the vast majority were started by students in the course, and sometimes they led to replies from me or from other students. I can also see on Moodle when students last logged in, which gives an idea of whether or not they are using the site.

Finally, it gives me a nice way to edit responses from other participants, such as when a student links to outside work rather than engaging with the problem personally. For example:

enter image description here

As for quizzes: I'm afraid that I hold the (pessimistic? unrealistic?) view that such online assessments allow too easily for cheating. Perhaps if you can convince the students that the quizzes are formative and will not affect their grade in any way, then the risk of cheating can be lowered. In this case, I can see Moodle being a valuable tool, but I have restricted my use to the discussion fora; a choice, I might add, that lowered the individual emails I received/sent dramatically, and facilitated much better the sharing of ideas in a group-setting.

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