Flax module

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Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 1.9. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version is available here: Flax module.

FLAX helps automate the production and delivery of practice exercises for learning English. Teachers can easily create exercises from the textual content of digital libraries. They can also create their own digital library collections, add them to their course as resources, and, optionally, share them within their institution. There is a tutorial introduction to FLAX here, in which you can do example exercises—and it includes a link to a FLAX sandbox course where you can create your own exercises and even build your own digital libray collection.

The FLAX module is a contributed activity module released for Moodle 1.9.x.

Designing exercises

FLAX currently offers three different exercise types:

  • Scrambled Sentences. This exercise type asks students to move highlighted words into the correct position in a sentence. Click the mouse on a word and drop it where it belongs.
  • Word Guessing. This exercise type asks students to type missing words into the correct place in a document.
  • Predicting Words and Phrases. This exercise type lets students brainstorm words and phrases pertinent to a particular topic. It's a traditional pre-reading activity that is particularly suitable for classroom use.

Teachers design exercises based on the contents of a digital library collection. The design proceeds by filling out a simple form, which is slightly different for each of the three exercise types.

For example, to create a simple Scrambled Sentence exercise, first turn editing on. Then go to Add an activity... and select FLAX language exercise.
FLAX language exercise
Give the activity a name and click Design exercise.
Choose Collection
Select The Best of Password and Scrambled Sentences (in fact, these are both the default) and click Continue.
Scrambled Sentences
Word Guessing
Predicting Words

Then, accepting all the defaults, click Save and exit.

Scrambled Sentences

You can select which document, or documents, the sentences come from—either by naming the documents or by choosing their difficulty level. You can choose between simple (single clause) or complex (multiclause) sentences. You can restrict the sentences to active or passive voice, and specify what tense they should have or what modal verb they should contain. You can specify how many words the sentences should have. You can even give a word or words that the target sentences must contain.

You can determine how many sentences are in the exercises, the number of words to scramble, and whether the sentences should be presented in the same order or a random order that is different for every student.

After you have designed a scrambled sentence exercise, you can review it and override the system's choices about which sentences that have been chosen. This puts the teacher firmly in control! You can also create a printable version of the exercise.

Word Guessing

You select a document (if you like, you can specify a difficulty level first). You can either choose the words to omit based on the gap size (and specify the gap size), or choose certain parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, or adjectives. You can select what kind of hint to give.

You can choose whether students work in individual mode, by themselves, or in class mode, in which case the entire class can compete by guessing words as quickly as possible. As soon as one student guesses a word correctly the system updates everyone else's display to make that word unavailable for guessing. For a fair competition, get all your students to work together at the same time! The top three scoring students are shown on everyone's screen, and when you mouse over the scoreboard you see how everyone is doing. Class mode exercises also contain a chat facility that allows participants to type messages to one another.

Finally, you can review the result and override the system's choice of which words to omit.

Predicting Words and Phrases

You create these exercises just like the other exercise types. Select a document (if you like, you can specify a difficulty level first). You can determine what kinds of words should not be presented for guessing (by default conjunctions, modal verbs, proper nouns, personal pronouns, prepositions and determiners are excluded from guessing). You can choose whether students see just the article title or the first paragraph as well. For this exercise, class mode is the default.

Managing your digital library collections

FLAX is distributed with a few standard digital library collections. When you create an exercise, you choose the collection it is based on and the exercise type from these standard collections, or any collections that are shared within your institution, or any collections that you have built just for your own students.

You can easily build your own collections, containing your own documents! In Moodle, when you go to Add an activity... and select FLAX language exercise, click the button labeled Manage my FLAX collections to get a list of your collections and a Create a new collection button. Give the collection a name and description on this form, click Next, and start adding documents. Note that copyright is your responsibility: before adding any document, please ensure that you have permission to do so.

You add documents using a simple form. Choose a title, a difficulty level, and then paste any text into the Document content box and click the Save button. Copy it from a Web page, a Word document, anywhere. Note that paragraphs should be separated by blank lines.

When you have finished, click Next and check the activity types to include (if in doubt, include them all). Click Next again, review the information that is shown, and then click OK. The new collection will appear in the Collections under construction list. To make it available to students in your class or throughout your entire institution, drag it into the appropriate place. There are separate lists for collections under construction, collections that you want to share within your institution, and collections that are just for your students.

Adding a digital library collection to your course

You can make any digital library collection available to your students by clicking Moodle's Add a resource... button and selecting Link to a FLAX digital library collection. Then select a FLAX collection in just the same way as you select a collection when designing an exercise. The collection's name will automatically appear as the name of the resource, unless you have already specified a different name. A link to Manage my FLAX collections is provided when you are adding FLAX collections to your course so that you can create new collections or move existing ones around.

Grading

All FLAX exercises can be used in Practice mode or Graded mode, as specified in the Maximum Grade part of the Moodle form that you see when you select Add a FLAX language learning exercise. In Scrambled Sentences exercises students can click Check answer to see which words they have got right and Next question to go to the next sentence, and in "Practice mode" they can return to the previous sentence.

The Moodle report that teachers can view for each student shows how they did on every sentence, and students can see their answer and the correct answer for every sentence too.

When students are doing FLAX exercises, there is a Summary report button at the top right of the screen (whether or not the exercise is a graded one). This shows you how you are doing, and is particularly useful in class mode exercises because it is updated in real time and shows how everyone is doing. For example, the teacher could keep this window open to monitor all the students.

The FLAX server

FLAX operates within Moodle but communicates with an external digital library server. The FLAX project in New Zealand has arranged for a demo server to be available to all Moodle users on a trial basis. The server is open source code that can be easily downloaded and installed. It runs on Linux, Windows, and Mac. You specify the server address when you install the Moodle FLAX module.


See also