preparing for use with Moodle

preparing for use with Moodle

by Dick Lane -
Number of replies: 3
My school is the middle of a transition from Blackboard to Moodle; we have contracted with to provide hosting and training. A search of their website shows they seem to know a little bit about Hot Potatoes, but there is no mention of TexToys, STACK, or WeBWorK. As a followup to a phone conversation with our local intermediary to that Moodle Partner, I would like to send him some links to relevant reading material.

Here is my current draft --- I will welcome suggestions about additions and revisions to make before I email it to him in a day or two. I would also welcome info about how other schools have managed a transition to Moodle (whether hosted locally or by a Moodle Partner company) together with integrating WeBWorK.

++++++++++ begin draft
Hello ...,

This is a followup to our conversation Monday about Moodle, the firm and U MT, and possible interfaces with the online homework system WeBWorK. [The slightly weird orthography helps distinguish this homework system from a Java web-application development framework (WebWork).]

David Bressoud presented an overview of WeBWorK in his April 2009 column (as president of Mathemetical Association of America)

Homework Software --- Survey by American Mathematical Society in 2009
one paragraph intro with links
summary in AMS Notices, 2010
full report

The official website for WeBWorK
a map showing about 80% of known users of WeBWorK

Description of the two ways to integrate WeBWorK with Moodle
A demonstration of a Moodle course with a link to WeBWorK

Moodle 1.9 Math --- book by Ian Wild (discusses Hot Potatoes and STACK, but not TexToys or WeBWorK)
list of 21 titles about Moodle --- published by PacktPub

notes from my colloquium talk "Online Homework for Math" plus a variety of supplementary stuff
my development server (where I plan to install Moodle for my own exploration this Spring)
[link to that server]
In reply to Dick Lane

Re: preparing for use with Moodle

by Michael Gage -
This might be a little out of date but this thread is relevant:

the "bridge2" connection between moodle and webwork (which parallels
the connection between moodle and STACK) is about 80% done -- with care it works with many webwork problems but not all.

This is a good point to rework bridge2 since we can simultaneously modify some underlying features of WeBWorK that will make the connection more robust. It will take a few people willing to work with the php and perl code on each side of the bridge. I can point out at least some places where the work needs to be done, particularly on the perl side. I am less familiar with the php/moodle side of the bridge.

Some of the work on the perl/webwork side are fixes that I've planned to do anyway -- but I have some limitations on the amount of time I can devote to it so it is not proceeding quickly.

-- Mike

In reply to Michael Gage

Re: preparing for use with Moodle

by Dick Lane -
Thanks, Mike, for your reference to previous discussions.  It is helpful in two ways!!

1)  I was reminded about the flexibility to have Moodle on one server and WeBWorK on another.  I had mentioned that during my phone conversation, but omitted it from my draft email.  I think I will insert "WeBWorK and Moodle do not need to be on the same server, nor even in the same domain." after my draft email's link to Moodle_Integration on our wiki.

2) I was also reminded that many topical pages on the wiki are supplemented by extended discussions in the various forums.


3)  at the nit-picking level, I am unclear whether we can consider 2 or 3 ways to integrate WeBWorK and Moodle:
a) assignment [wwassignment4]
b) question
c) bridge2 [? is this wwassignment4 ?, e.g., used by BYU ?]

On the other hand, I don't need to confront that detail now because I will begin my next set of experiments by adapting parts of Ian Wild's "Moodle 1.9 Math" book [with colleagues, but no real students, as observers/participants].
In reply to Dick Lane

Re: preparing for use with Moodle

by Michael Gage -
The "bridge" nomenclature is internal short-hand of course, but here is what it means. There are only two "bridges" between Moodle and WeBWorK.

Moodle Assignment, aka bridge1, and currently implemented by the software package wwassignment4, is used by BYU, Ohio State, myself at Rochester and several others so the response time to issues is very quick. Bridge1 connects Moodle and WeBWorK on the assignment level. When a student in Moodle clicks on a WeBWorK assignment icon they are automatically taken to that assignment in WeBWorK. When they are done and return to Moodle their homework grade is transferred back to the Moodle gradebook.

There is a similar bridge1 between Blackboard and WeBWorK which works in the same way. Its development is not quite complete.

Moodle Question type, aka bridge2, connects the questions in a Moodle Quiz to a WeBWorK server for rendering. The student and even the faculty never see the WeBWorK interface -- they simply notice that the Moodle Quizzes now offer and grade more complicated math questions than previously. Everytime a question is graded the student's responses are transferred behind the scenes back to the WeBWorK server, evaluated and the results returned to Moodle for presentation to the student. BYU experimented with bridge2 but eventually decided that bridge1 better suited their needs for now. There are only a few sites using bridge2 at its current state of development and there are known issues that no-one has had a chance to fix yet. The behavior of the Moodle/WeBWorK bridge2 interface is very similar to the behavior of the Moodle/STACK interface.

There have been suggestions on the development list to create a common interface that works for both STACK and WeBWorK.

The development of both bridge1 and bridge2 owes a heavy debt to the work of Matt Leventi who worked on them while he was a senior at U. of Rochester.