Friday, August 12, 2016

Top Five Things You Should Know about Moodle 3.0

LITS has been busy over the summer with the usual updates and refreshing of our Moodle learning management system.  So now Moodle 3.0 is here, but to be honest it is not greatly changed from our previous version 2.8!  We don’t think you’ll have any trouble getting around in the updated Moodle, and you may even enjoy some of the small enhancements.

Along with some updated features, we also hope you’ll enjoy the new layout of the Moodle main page.  Hopefully it’s a bit cleaner looking and easier to navigate!

Here are a few items you might find interesting or useful to know about Moodle 3.0:

1- Personalization:
My Home is now Dashboard - with easier access to your courses and activities as well as the ability to customize your page using blocks.  Your Profile now includes a preference page: all personal preference settings in one place and the ability to use jpg files to upload your own image.   See our Editing Your Profile page for some notes about that.

2 - Text editor:
Enhancements in the text editor (e.g., for writing a Forum post) now allow you to drag and drop an image directly into your post and to create more robust tables within your text.

3 - Quiz tool:
Quite a lot of updating has happened to the Quiz activity, including  4 new ‘drag & drop’ question types!  It also includes the ability to create section headings and easier ways to randomize questions or make them conditional. Topping that off is the ability to easily print out a quiz: preview the quiz, and from that preview screen, print or save to PDF from your browser. The navigation menus on the left hand side will not show up in your printout.

4 - Course management:
Especially for faculty, there are some small refinements in course editing functions allowing you to work more easily with course sections (either topics or weeks), such as deleting whole sections and linking directly to the section headings.   There is also a new process for granting anonymous guest access to your course.

5 - Here's what hasn't changed:
Although there were some minor tweaks to the gradebook, it is still wondrously complex. Let us know if you'd like to talk about whether to use it or not, how to use it for your situation, and questions of that sort.  (Here are some tips that might help.)

What's the best way to get quick answers on Moodle questions?  Take a look at our Moodle help site. A lot of the basics are covered there!  Or if you prefer, you can always send a question to Research & Instructional Support (ris-d or to your specific RIS Liaison.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Backing Up and Restoring Moodle Courses (with NEW instructor features!)

Instructors using Moodle invariably need to move material from one place to another. In the past, instructors have had the ability to import files from one course site to another, and we now have a few new features available to you as well. Each of these features is described below, with a link to the documentation for using the feature. You can also check out this overview to understand the best way to move things between your course sites.

The first of these is the ability to create backup files. In the Administration menu in your course site, one of the options, Backup, leads to menus that will guide you through creating a single backup file that compresses the entire contents of your course -- layout, settings, most user data, and files -- into a single archive file. (It's similar to a .zip file, if you have ever used .zip files.)

The second is the ability to restore a course from a backup file. In the Administration menu in your course site, the option Restore leads to menus where you can choose where to unpack a backup, like moving your belongings to a new house and then setting them up. Use caution when choosing where to restore! We recommend using a site you know is empty, because otherwise you could overwrite existing information. If you are at all unsure, please contact your LITS Liaison.

And finally, if you'd like to grab a quick copy of all the files that have been uploaded by you or other instructors in your course, click on Download Instructor Files in the Administration menu.  This does not capture any settings, layout, or any files uploaded by your students! But if you want a quick download of your readings and other uploads, in a .zip file, this is the way to go.

And as always, if you aren't sure which of these features to use, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

LITS Student Employee Profile: Malosree Maitra on the LITS Web Team!

For seven of her eight very busy semesters at Mount Holyoke, Malosree Maitra has been a member of the LITS Web Team, tackling a wide variety of programming tasks, learning one new technology after another, and rising to every challenge we've presented her. We asked her to answer a few questions about her experience.

Malosree Maitra

Kolkata, India

Class Year:


Student Employee Position:
Web Programmer

When did you start working for the LITS Web Team?
Spring 2013

How did you hear about the position, and why were you interested?
I saw it posted on JobX. I applied because I'd learned a bit of programming during a gap year after high-school and was interested in an on-campus job that was unrelated to my major!

What is your favorite LITS Web project thus far? Least favorite?
My favorite project was the Digital Signage system that is currently being used by different departments for running slideshows at locations across campus. I don't really have a least favorite project.

How do you think this position has helped your professional development?
Starting with my first job interview ever and ending with a snippet of my code being accepted as part of a contributed Drupal module, this job has been a very important part of my Mount Holyoke experience. I have unexpectedly learned a lot about how modern web development is carried out and how our college website is built and run.

Favorite class at MHC?

Career goals?
I will be attending graduate school and want to pursue a career in neuroscience research.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Return of the bunnies!

Finals got you frantic? LITS can fix that. Join us for our Spring Study Break Tea, a.k.a. Tea and Buns!

Come to the Stimson Room on Library Level 6 this Wednesday, April 27 from 4-5pm. There will be snacks, button making, soothing sound generators, and - most importantly - baby bunnies! Take a break, cuddle a bunny, and feel all your finals stress melt away . . .

Image credit: Mary Stettner (with apologies to Edvard Munch and Mary Cassatt)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Download older Moodle materials by June 12, 2016

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 2016 course site, please do so by Sunday, June 12, 2016. 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

Monday, April 18, 2016

Poetry all around

April is National Poetry Month! Need some ideas for getting your poetry fix?  Read on . . .


You'll find all of the library's most recently acquired poetry books in the lovely Stimson Room on library level 6.  This welcoming space - with lots of comfy seating - also houses the most recent issues of our print literary magazines and currently features a display of books by this year's Glascock Intercollegiate Poetry Competition poet judges.


Not only can you search the Five College Libraries Catalog to find collections by your favorite poets, you can also use the Advanced form to search for all works in the genre "poetry" and discover books by writers who are new to you.

Poems are often published individually or in anthologies featuring the work of multiple poets, too. Doing an author name search on the poet of your choice in Discover Supersearch's Advanced form is a good way to find poems published in magazines.

Columbia Granger's World of Poetry is another tool you can use to find poems by a favorite poet published in anthologies.  It includes the full text of some 250,000 poems, selected commentaries on poems, biographies of leading poets, and selected essays on the history and criticism of poetry, too.

Make poems come to you

Sign up to be emailed a Poem-a-Day (text and audio) for free from, the web site of the Academy of American Poets.  Tip: double-click in the "sign up" box, then enter your email address. Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry Magazine, also offers a Poem of the Day podcast service featuring poems read by poets and actors. Both services include contemporary as well as classic poetry, so it's a neat way to learn about new poets.

Join in the fun!

April 28 is Poem in your Pocket Day where you select a poem, put it in your pocket, carry it with you and share it with others you meet during the day. Tweet your poem, too, with hashtag #pocketpoem. You can download poems for your pocket here.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Evolution of Mount Holyoke Literary Magazines. Part II

When Mount Holyoke’s literary magazine Tempo came to a close in 1953, students looked for another successful outlet to serve as the next generation of student-written publication. For many years Mount Holyoke published a first-year literary magazine designated specifically for that year's incoming class, thus they were named after that year's class animal, whether it be a sphinx, lion, griffon, or pegasus. Pegasus' magazine became particularly successful and consequently became Mount Holyoke’s official literary magazine in 1955. The promotion from first-year magazine to the stand alone magazine was very different from previous efforts to expand the audience. Instead of creating an entirely new literary magazine, students looked to an already successful outlet and chose to expand upon it.

Comparison of 1977 edition of
Pegasus with Spring 1978
Pegasus proved to be one of the most successful official literary magazines, and is still today Mount Holyoke's longest standing publication. The 35 years, from 1955 until 1990, that Pegasus was in production even surpassed The Mount Holyoke Monthly’s 26 years. During this time, the magazine evolved drastically and experimented with new design formats, art content, and photography. The Spring 1978 edition of Pegasus is a particularly interesting example of their experimentation towards format and presentation. This edition is more than double the size of previous magazines and includes large pictures of student art in a folio format. The editor's note mentions that this unique edition was an experiment in lowering costs of printing by typesetting and printing the entire magazine themselves. The folio style did not continue, however, and the next edition in summer 1978 returned to the previous booklet format. Pegasus introduced another format change beginning in the late 1960s where they enlarged the booklet slightly to better present student artwork.

The Common Wages
(1971- 1995)
Despite the success of Pegasus and its dynamic changes to keep the magazine modern and inclusive, the need for a new magazine arose in 1971. Since Pegasus lacked the space for stories longer than a couple pages, The Common Wages was developed to hold longer stories and writing samples that would not fit in Pegasus. While these two magazines were in publication, a third literary magazine was born called Vida. Vida was developed as a specialized magazine for bilingual students in collaboration with the Latina club on campus called La Unidad. Vida offered bilingual students the opportunity to submit writing in languages other than English and to expand the literary community at Mount Holyoke through a variety of cultural content.

Funky Lady
Canary Wine


In 1990 the long standing Pegasus was replaced with an all new magazine called Arsis, a word derived from the Greek poetic device meaning “to raise one’s voice.” The name was chosen to represent students' desire to “reflect a wide range of voices and ideas from the Mount Holyoke community” through their magazine. Arsis was also different visually, as the editors chose to make it “a smaller, annual-like style, and nothing too glossy.” Between 1993 and 1999 there were a series of name changes that were all short lived. The first name change during this period was from Arsis to Canary Wine in 1993. The new name was inspired by a sweet wine from the Canary Islands, which “like art, intoxicates those who drink it in.” Canary Wine lasted until 1996 followed by Funky Lady and then Calliope in in 1999. From 1999 until 2001 Mount Holyoke literary magazines made a brief hiatus while a new literary magazine was being designed.

The Blackstick Review
(2004- present)
Mount Holyoke literary magazines started back up in 2001 with a “new, eclectic, entirely student-run publication showcasing a myriad of paintings, photographs, poems and prose compositions,” titled Verbosity. While Verbosity was ongoing, another literary magazine was introduced called The Blackstick Review, reviving the name from Mount Holyoke's literary club Blackstick that was in existence from 1909 to 1961. In addition to publishing physical magazines, The Blackstick Review was also the first online literary magazine, making student writing available to all wherever they had internet access. This was a huge development for Mount Holyoke and the creative student community.Verbosity and The Blackstick Review continued simultaneously until 2013 when Verbosity ended. 

Today, Mount Holyoke's active literary magazines include The Blackstick Review and Moneta. So if you are interested in reading the student writing on campus, check out these two great publications!

Author Brittnee Worthy is a student Archives Assistant in Archives and Special Collections. To explore Mount Holyoke's literary magazines in person, visit Archives and Special Collections in the basement of Dwight Hall!