Essay writing in Moodle: Tips by Moodlefairy

In a recent post on forums the moodle community educator (@moodlefairy) psoted some nice tips about essay writing in Moodle where she has compared the different ways students can write and submit essays, and what are the pros and cons of each?

Here are some of the excerpts of the tips:

  • Typing essays directly into Moodle: By selecting ‘Online text’ in the submission types of an assignment, it is possible to allow students to use Moodle’s text editor to type and submit their essay.
    • Pro’s:
      • For shorter essays (no more than a few hundred words) it is easier for the student to type directly into Moodle than set up, write and upload a word-processed document.
      • There are no issues with compatibility of word-processing software programs on either the students’ or the teacher’s side.
      • (Since 2.6) teachers can add comments on the original text of the student essay, similar to writing on paper.
      • (SInce 2.7) teachers can impose a word limit on the essay and students get a warning message if they exceed it.
      • (Since 2.8) text entered is automatically saved at regular intervals so students don’t suffer if there is a connection problem.
      • With assignments, you can customise the scale or use a rubric or marking guide (“bank of statements”)

      Word Limit

    • Con’s:
      • If your Moodle version is lower than 2.6, you don’t get the recent benefits, particularly auto-saving, which could cause a problem in areas with poor internet connections.
      • It’s harder to keep track of different drafts if this is important to you. Does the student copy and paste into the text editor each time they redraft? Do you set a new assignment? Do they only “submit” their final draft, in which case the teacher must keep checking and commenting on earlier versions?
  • Uploading word-processed essays: By selecting “File submissions” in the submission types of an assignment, teachers can allow students to upload one or more essays written in, for example MS Word
    • Pro’s:
      • It uses something many students and teachers are familiar with – word processing software.
      • Students create and save the essay offline before uploading to Moodle so there is no risk of work  being lost if there is a poor connection. With longer essays of several thousand words, this gives greater sense of security.
      • Teachers can allow more than one upload, allowing for storing of various drafts if needed – students name their versions “…v01, v02” and so on.
      • Teachers can use the “track changes” feature of word-processing software to comment on the essays and then reupload for the students
      • With assignments, you can customise the scale or use a rubric or marking guide (“bank of statements”)
    • Con’s:
      • Creating, saving and uploading a document gives more steps for the student than simply typing directly into Moodle
      • The teacher has to download each essay, comment on each one individually and then re-upload. Is this more or less time-consuming than going through 30 exercise books and commenting in biro?

She has also included the Uploading of PDF files, using quiz essay questions and lesson essay questions etc including their pros and cons.

To read the complete forum thread, please check out this link.

Thanks Mary Cooch (@moodlefairy) for sharing such a nice tips and tricks.


Jaswinder Singh

Jaswinder Singh, passionate about using Moodle in improving the Indian Education System and reaching the students in far flung areas where still education seems to be a impossible prospect of life. He is the author of the popular Moodle Book "How to use Moodle 2.7". In October 2016, Jaswinder was elected as the Moodle User's Association Committee member - the first to make it from India.

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