Posts Tagged ‘Moodle’

Secure Browser for testing on Moodle using Chromebooks or Win/Mac

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

We recently set up a secure browser for our student chromebooks so that when they take quizzes/tests they can’t open up any other tabs/windows or take screenshots.
They steps involved:

A. Turn on the Safe Browser Option in Moodle

Go to Site Administration->Development->Experimental and check the box


(You can also just search the administration settings for “Safe”
I don’t know what version of Moodle this feature was added, but it was part of the Core Moodle code, so you don’t need to worry about 3rd party plugins.

B. Create a Chromebook Kiosk app

Here is a link to a copy of my complete kiosk mode app (updated February 22, 2018)
To change it for your site you will need to download the folder and remove the copy of from all the names. Then edit a few of the files:

in the application.html file

  1. change the title to be the name of your site
  2. in the webview line change the src=“” address to be the address of your site

in background.js you could change the ‘id:’ field to be the name of your site (I don’t think this step will have an impact, but might as well put your school name there)

Then you will need to publish this app by zipping this folder and uploading it to the chrome developer site
I published my app as private to our school domain.

C. Push the kiosk app out to student Chromebooks and blacklist user-agent switching apps in the Chrome web store and/or install the Safe Exam Browser on Windows/Mac

  1. Go to Chrome Management > Device Settings > Kiosk Settings > Single App Kiosk, select Allow Single App Kiosk for devices in the organizational unit you select.
  2. Click Manage Kiosk Applications. In the dialog that appears select the exam kiosk app you want to use. You can search for it on the Chrome Web Store, or manually install it if you have the app ID and URL by selecting Specify a Custom App.
  3. Make sure the devices you want to administer the exam with are under the organizational unit you select for the kiosk app.
  4. Then student chromebooks will get an Apps menu on the login screen with your secure browser which opens to your moodle site.
  5. Now blacklist user-agent switching so tricky students can pretend to be the safe browser even when they are not
  6. For windows/mac go to You will then need to configure the settings to point to your site.

D. Done

Now teachers can set up a quiz with the Safe Browser option turned in the quiz settings page under Extra Restrictions on Attempts. If students try to take the quiz while logged in normally, they will be told they need to use the Safe Exam Browser.
To use the safe exam browser kiosk app, students must log out of their chromebooks and look for an Apps menu in the bottom left menu bar. They then launch the secure browser and log into Moodle normally to take the quiz. Once they are done, they close the secure browser mode and then can log into the Chromebook normally to do other work.

Why use Moodle, when you can use something shiny?

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

A fellow Moodler (Laurie Korte) asked for some talking points to convince her district to use Moodle as its primary collaboration tool.

In my district (and around the web) I often get folks saying “We should use X instead of Moodle” (Ning, Blogger, Edmodo, Facebook, Quia, etc.) and my general feeling is that while there are lots of strengths to each of those tools, they lack the ability to be the one-stop shop.

With Moodle we get one web address and one login that gives students and teachers ALL of the tools that would require dozens of other systems. Is Moodle the best blog tool, the best forum tool, the best wiki tool, the best quiz tool, the best survey tool, the best social networking tool? No. But it is the only web app I have found that has all of these in one spot.

Why is having all these tools in one place so important and why is Moodle so good at meeting lots of need?

  • Prevents login/password overload. Every new site is another web address, username, and password that must be created, managed and remembered. If the school has to create and manage those accounts, it becomes a lot of work. If the teachers and students have to manage/create the accounts, then most won’t bother. Moodle is good at getting login info from other databases and at sending login info to other systems. We have Moodle, Google Docs, and Mahara all tied to a single sign on with Moodle. Soon we will have the Moodle logins tied to our Active Directory accounts. (Edmodo and Ning won’t allow that kind of account management)
  • Prevents fragmentation of progress. One teacher uses Ning because it is really slick for social networking, another uses Quia for online quizzes. Can they share their success with each other? Only by learning an entirely new system and interface. In Moodle if one teacher uses Forums and another uses Quizzes they can share their strategies (or even copy the activity between their courses) and add new tools to their teaching with less “activation energy”. There will always be a few cutting edge teachers who can pick up new tools and experiment from year to year, but you shouldn’t try to make those tools “district standards”. As a district you want one system that you can be assured will meet all your teachers needs so you can move everybody forward.
  • Lack of consistency for students/parents. With one site, kids learn how to interact online and build on those skills year to year. This means the tech is more transparent. If every class/year kids have to learn a new system, there is more time wasted. (Yes I admit that learning new tech can be a waste of time if you do too much of it and don’t use it enough.)
  • Easy for teachers to grow into it. Moodle can start as just a static webpage. This gets a lot of teachers on board (even ones who aren’t on the Web 2.0 bandwagon). Then after a year or two they can add a forum here, a wiki there. After awhile they have slowly integrate Web 2.0 into the classroom. Throw them into something like Ning and most teachers just won’t engage, because it is too much change.
  • Moodle is robust and expandable. Want to upload an Examview test bank? Want to allow 2 quiz attempts with a half hour delay? Want to monitor all student messages? Want to restrict a few students from messaging, but still allow them to take quizzes? Want to give one student the ability to moderate a forum? Want to give students an entire course to use for their project? No other tool I have found has so much power to customize. Also the plugin database full of 3rd party mods is awesome: I have added a nicer file upload system, a cool photo gallery, Google Apps integration, integration, site-wide message reporting. All for free and easy to set up.
  • Moodle can be used for professional development. Set up an anti bullying course and have teachers go through it. Do Blood Borne Pathogen certification quickly and easily on Moodle. Create a staff discussion forum. No need to have a separate log in for teachers to work with students and teachers to work together.
  • Finally, Moodle can be customized to look very nice

So is Moodle right for your district/school? It may not be, but if you think about long term, system-wide growth and Moodle looks very attractive.

What do kids use Moodle for?

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

I surveyed students after our first full year of Moodle use to see what they thought about Moodle. I distilled student comments and found certain words and themes that came up often. I called these keywords. Check out the graph below for a snapshot of the results.

Obviously a lot of what they use Moodle for has to do with what their teachers set up: primarily to access handouts and schedules. However, middle school students also used the Moodle messaging and tag feature to create an online community.

Several cool things about the spontatneous online community:

  1. We could monitor it fairly well (sadly some aspects of the popular tag pages are not logged and so we have had to restrict that feature)
  2. The kids got in the habit of going to our Moodle at night (usually just to hang out, but they were that much closer to getting information)
  3. It was spontaneous. This reveals how much untapped potential there is in creating online learning spaces for students. If educators can embrace social media and help craft positive online spaces for kids, we might see online behavior improve. Also we can harness their desire to interact online and try to push them into creating and learning educational content.

A few representative quotes:

  • I use it for printouts of schedules, PowerPoint lectures, class notes. It helps a lot with absences.
  • One night before a history test, I went on my school and found a power point that helped me study for the test. I have also logged on and gotten the homework for language arts so I knew what was coming up the next week. It really prepared me for the next week.
  • The best benefits/features of my school are that you get to chat with friends and see school assignments
  • I used it to transfer information to my partner through instant chat.
How do students use Moodle.

How do students use Moodle.


We are going to try adding the OU blog plugin so that students can create and COMMENT on blogs. Also we hope to add the shoutbox plugin so we can create a twitter-like community on our Moodle as well.

It will be interesting to see if students will stay active on Moodle socially as they age and start becoming more active on “real” social networks. In general, our high school students weren’t hanging out on our Moodle. I wonder if tools like Ning or Elgg would be a better fit for high school students.

So You Want To Moodle?

Friday, May 29th, 2009

What does a school have to think about as it adopts Moodle? We are finishing our first year of Moodle use at Carmel Middle School and Carmel High School and I will share some of our findings on this blog. We are using Moodle for teacher web pages but use another system for online grades.

History and Setup: We piloted Moodle on our own server for one year. The teachers who set up Moodle pages liked the system and so we adopted it as the official platform for class websites. As part of our official adoption the district paid for to host our Moodle and provide support. This really helps with peace of mind and has been a very positive relationship. All student were given accounts created with a file upload. Teachers could request courses to be set up, but students are not automatically enrolled. All courses allow guest access, so that students and parents could just use guest access to download files.

We ran several all day trainings in the summer to get teachers up to speed and occasional trainings during the school year.

The most important lessons so far:

  • Creating a website takes time. If you want teachers to create pages, give them the time to do so by making it a professional development priority.
  • Most teachers will start with Web 1.0 features. They will use Moodle as an online file storage center, not an interactive virtual learning environment. That is OK and as the level of comfort with Moodle grows, teachers can start to explore interactive elements. Also Web 1.0 features are really useful for student absences and lost handouts.
  • The students will want to socialize online. We have messaging turned on and our middle school students love to hang out on our Moodle at night. This means they are chatting in a safe, monitored environment (Moodle logs, only students and teachers have accounts). It also means that students are familiar with the page and so are more aware of the resources teachers provide than if the site wasn’t social.
  • Many teachers will need to see real benefits before they jump on the bandwagon. Don’t worry about pushing too hard on the reticent teachers at first. Support and encourage the power users and the benefits will speak for themselves.
  • The more teachers that use it, the better. One of the advantages of Moodle is that it is a one stop shop for school. If some teachers use their own system, that fragments your online school community.

To close my first post about our Moodle, I would like to share the result from one of the questions from a student survey about Moodle. The students really love having a place to interact online and access to classroom materials. Check out our site.How can Moodle be improved?