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 login as a guest and do example exercises—and here is a FLAX sandbox course where you can create your own exercises and build your own digital library collection.
The FLAX module is a contributed activity module. It has been thoroughly tested on Moodle 2.1. (The current version is a comprehensive update to and expansion of the original release for Moodle 1.9.)
When you install the FLAX module, two new items appear on Moodle's Add an activity menu:
- FLAX language exercise, for designing activities and adding them to your course
- FLAX digital library, for creating digital library collections and adding them to your course.
FLAX offers the following types of exercise:
- Scrambled Sentences. Students move highlighted words into the correct position in a sentence. Click the mouse on a word and drop it where it belongs.
- Scrambled Paragraphs. Students move paragraphs into the correct position in a passage. Drag and drop a paragraph to where it belongs.
- Split Sentences. Students match the first part of sentences with the second part by dragging them into the correct position.
- Punctuation and Capitalization. Students restore punctuation and/or capitalization to a paragraph from which it has been stripped.
- Word Guessing. Students type missing words into gaps in a document.
- Completing Collocations. Students type missing words into gaps in collocations that have been identified by the system.
- Image Guessing. Played by two cooperative players, the "describer" and the "guesser", who cooperate over chat, the describer describes the picture on his screen and the guesser tries to identify it from several similar pictures.
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 exercise types.
Creating digital library collections
Exercises are based on material (usually text) in a digital library collection. You choose which collection when you create the exercise. FLAX is distributed with two standard collections, but you can also build your own collection from your own documents (or ones on the Web). It's easy! – just cut and paste text into a Web form. You can add images, and audio (for dictation-style exercises).
If you have installed your own FLAX server (see below), any collections you build are shared within your Moodle site. However, if you use the public demo server, collections are visible to anyone.
As well as creating exercises based on the contents of a digital library collection, you can make the entire collection, or selected documents in it, available to your students from within Moodle.
All FLAX exercises can be used in Practice mode or Graded mode, as specified in the Maximum Grade part of the form that you see when you add a Moodle activity. In most exercises, students click Check answer to see what they have got right and then move on to the next question. In Practice mode they can continue to work on the same question until they get it right, or move back and forth among the questions as they choose, and there's a Summary report button that shows them the correct answer, and how well they have done.
Teachers can view a Moodle report that shows how each student did on each part of the exercise.
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.