Technically Speaking

Moodle users, have you tried NanoGong yet? If you haven't, you've probably seen it and wondered what that new little speaker button in the Moodle editor is. That's NanoGong, a voice recorder plug in that allows students and instructors to record themselves and easily insert this recording into a Moodle activity, quiz, lesson or assignment.

Dr. Martin Dulberg

"The whole team of people working on WolfWare strive to always make it better." - Dr. Martin Dulberg

DELTA added NanoGong to Moodle in fall 2013, initiated as a feature request from the CHASS information technology department. Instructors in CHASS's Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures had been using a different voice recording tool for speaking activities and pronunciation assignments, but they wanted a tool that was integrated into Moodle. DELTA assessed the options and agreed with CHASS's NanoGong recommendation. They determined that DELTA support for this plug in would benefit Moodle users. Plus, for CHASS, it would free up staff time, systems support and money that they had been spending on a software license.

"This has been a tool that people have really made use of," said Bob Kadle, CHASS instructional technology support analyst. "The integration in Moodle made it much easier for students to do their assignments and for faculty to track their activities. It has been a success."

NanoGong's value practically speaks for itself. In it's first year in Moodle, students in 29 course sections used NanoGong, and it rose to the top 10 percent in usage of Moodle plug ins.

We're Listening

NanoGong was just one of the many feature requests that DELTA received, evaluated and implemented last year. DELTA encouraged feedback through an easy, transparent feedback request system linked from the bottom of every WolfWare page. Here, our users (anyone with a Unity ID) made recommendations for new or improved functionality in WolfWare tools, other users voted in agreement, and DELTA staff indicated status or responded to the request.

The feature request system is one way that DELTA works to maintain a culture of constant improvement.

"The whole team of people working on WolfWare strive to always make it better," said Dr. Marty Dulberg, senior LMS coordinator. "We want it to meet the needs of faculty and students and provide new, innovative tools and techniques."

Other significant items completed from last year's feature request list included:

  • WeBWorK, an open-source alternative to WebAssign
  • improvements to the TurningPoint clickers module
  • new Moodle formatting options
  • Open University (OU) date report module, which saves instructors time in rolling over Moodle courses to a new semester

Beyond Requests

Aside from user-inspired changes, DELTA steadily improved all of NC State's enterprise learning technologies last year. The WolfWare website itself saw significant changes, as did the tools housed within it: Moodle, Blackboard Collaborate and Mediasite. Moodle users settled into the spring 2013 upgrade to Moodle 2.3. Mediasite users took advantage of the My Mediasite pilot in fall 2014 new features of Mediasite 7, upgraded in August 2014. Blackboard Collaborate users prepared for an upgrade in August 2014. Following industry trends, they all made a move to mobile.

"There's definitely a need to access information and teaching when you have the time, in whatever little time slices a student has," said Dulberg. He explained that though only 11% of Moodle's traffic is on a mobile device, this easy access helps students quickly check assignment due dates, watch a recorded lecture on the go or follow a discussion board.

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