Friday, August 28, 2015

New features in Moodle 2.8

Moodle was upgraded to version 2.8 in May 2015, and there are some great new features in it that we think you’ll like. For starters, you’ll find that the look and feel of Moodle has changed. The icons are a little different, and this new theme resizes very nicely for narrower screens. You can see how it resizes by making your web browser window more narrow; you’ll see things on the page move around to display best for different widths. The theme also works better with assistive technologies (for example, screen readers and magnifiers) used on campus.

Another new thing is the text editor interface. You will see this interface when you edit the heading of a section of your course, add a description of an activity, or write an answer to a quiz question, and other places where text needs to be edited. The first button in the controls for the text editor expands the controls to show the rest of the buttons. Here’s what the controls look like when collapsed and when expanded:

The new interface also autosaves your work, which is something we know many of you have been wishing for. If you accidentally close your browser or leave the page without saving, it will save your work for you until you come back.

There is also a new menu in the user interface that shows up under your name when you are logged in:

Note that the “messages” part only contains system announcements within Moodle; it isn’t linked to email and if a user is not logged in to Moodle they will not see a notification that they have a message until the next time they are logged in.

There have also been improvements made to the Moodle Gradebook in this new version.  One change is that the student names column in the Grader Report is now frozen so that you will continue to see their names even as you scroll far to the right - easier to keep track of who’s grades you are viewing!  Also, there is a new grade aggregation scheme called Natural Weighting  that makes the adding up and weighting of student grades easier and more flexible. If you are interested in using Natural Weighting in your Gradebook, ask your LITS Liaison for a quick introduction!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Faculty: Moodle events and getting ready for fall

This one's for all course instructors: here are things you'll want to know about Moodle as you plan for fall. 

We're offering drop-in Moodle help on a number of dates: 

  • 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM Wednesday August 5, Library 431
  • 10 AM to 11:30 AM Wednesday August 19, Library 431
  • 10 AM to Noon Tuesday September 1, Library 431
  • If you're a new faculty member, keep in mind that there will be an opportunity for Moodle drop-in help on August 24, as part of your new faculty orientation calendar, and you will hear about that from your LITS liaison soon if you haven't already.
At the drop-in sessions, we'll be on hand to help you import materials into your course sites and to answer any other questions you may have about setting up Moodle for fall. No RSVP needed, but we'd love to know who is planning to be there and what sorts of questions you will have. 

We're also offering a “Getting ready to grade” workshop August 25 from 2 PM to 3:30 PM in 619. In this workshop we will talk about the Moodle gradebook, what it's best at, and whether it's the right fit for your course and your assignments. If you do choose Moodle for some or all of your grading in your course, we'll show you some best practices, and there will be time to start setting up grading in Moodle, and to ask questions. We encourage you to RSVP if you'd like to attend this session.

Need to move stuff from an old Moodle course site to a new one?  We have a video tutorial about that:

If you can't make it to a drop-in session or you need help right now, don't hesitate to contact your LITS Liaison, or contact Research and Instructional Support at Want to learn at your own pace? See our moodle help pages for help with common tasks. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015


During your first semester, or four semesters into your college education you may find yourself riding the struggle-bus as you start a research paper. One of the best attributes of college is the opportunity to study new areas of interest. Especially at Mount Holyoke, you are in the position where you must write a paper that is outside your normal field.

Whatever background you have in research paper writing, LITS has the most amazing webpages to help you find sources and get started on your research paper. In my case, I had zero research paper experience. The AP style essay was the only form I came to Mount Holyoke with.

Introducing: LibGuides ~ A fantastic starting place when you don’t know where to begin.

LibGuides are created by LITS staff members from the department of Research and Instructional Support who specialize in different areas of research. You can start your research by finding your subject page.

My first experience brought me to the Music LibGuide. Never having written a research paper, let alone a music paper, using this guide to find resources made researching much less overwhelming.

What you will also find helpful on the LibGuides are the Writing & Citation tools. Citing sources properly and in the correct form is a very important part of writing a good research paper. Each subject guide has a different citation page because not all subjects have the same citation format. Before I came to Mount Holyoke, I did not experience citing sources such as journals. On the LibGuides, you will find instructions, formats, examples, and citation tools to ensure the proper citation of materials. LibGuides make researching and citing easy!

If you are still having trouble organizing your research paper, or you’d just like some help, don’t be afraid to reach out to the liaisons! They are here to help you! When I wrote my first paper, I emailed the subject liaison so I could talk with her one-on-one and get my questions and concerns resolved in person. After meeting with a liaison, you will feel organized and most of the anxiety about writing a research paper will be gone. Doing the actual work is up to you, but you will be equipped to do a wonderful job.

The next time you find yourself unable to make progress on your research assignment, take advantage of this wonderful tool tailored to your needs by our fantastic LITS staff.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Download older Moodle materials by June 22, 2015

In order to comply with copyright law, LITS must turn off student access to Moodle course sites a few weeks after grades are due.

If you wish to save copies of any Moodle materials from a Spring 2015 course site, please do so by Monday, June 22, 2015. If you have an extension and require access to a course site beyond this date, please contact the course instructor.

Image credit: opensourceway via Compfight cc

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Emily Silverman Student Prize winner is...

LITS would like to congratulate Sundus Noeen, class of 2016, on her outstanding submission to the Emily Silverman '81 Student Prize competition.  Sundus' pieces are being prepared to hang on the wall near Library 619 Training Room... look for them soon!

Thanks to everyone who submitted entries and to the donor of the prize, Emily Silverman '81, for her continued generosity in furthering the intersection of art and ideas in the LITS Complex.

Friday, May 15, 2015

LITS Student Employee Profile: Qudsia Aziz on the LITS Web Team!

Qudsia Aziz has been a LITS Web Team member for four years, during which she's contributed to massive web migration projects, learned and used multiple new programming languages and frameworks, and become a contributor to the Drupal open source community. We had a few questions for Qudsia before her graduation this weekend.

Qudsia Aziz

Kabul, Afghanistan

Class Year:

Computer Science

Student Employee Position:
Web Programmer

When did you start working for the LITS Web Team?
Fall 2011

How did you hear about the position, and why were you interested?
I found this position on JobX and I decided to apply for it because it was a great opportunity to work on real web applications with a team of experienced web developers.

What is your favorite LITS Web project thus far? Least favorite?
My favorite project was writing the Webform Field Repeat module. My least favorite project was going through old HTML web pages manually during the migration of the website from RedDot to Drupal.

How do you think this position has helped your professional development?
I have had the opportunity to work on challenging web projects, work with and learn from an amazing team of web developers, and keep abreast of new web technologies.

Favorite class at MHC?
Artificial Intelligence

Career goals?
I plan to work as a software engineer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

New Archives Exhibit Online: LGBTQ+ History at Mount Holyoke

The latest Archives and Special Collections online exhibit is up! Entitled "Persistence and Existence," it showcases different student LGBTQ+ organizations at MHC, starting in the 1970s all the way to today. The exhibit is organized chronologically and contains photographs, digital documents, and text describing the rich and complex history of exclusion that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning people face at Mount Holyoke.

Starting in 1975 with the well known "Astronomer" newspaper article, the exhibit covers the formation of the Lesbian Alumnae Network, now Lyon's Pride, the transformation of the Lesbian Alliance to include bisexual and trans identities, and the struggles students faced with peers and the administration through the early 2000s. "Persistence and Existence" includes a full digitized zine, details about racism and exclusion within the LGBTQ community, and short bios about each of the orgs that exist today. 

Check out the exhibit here and please contact the Archives to help us fill in the gaps! We know that there's so much LGBTQ history that has been erased and silenced and we are actively working to preserve the past and future. We would love your materials or information pertaining to student organizations, campus goings on, and your own experience as a member of the Mount Holyoke community!