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Revision as of 16:32, 23 January 2007


A lesson delivers content in interesting and flexible ways. It consists of a number of pages. Each page leads to another page. Students are given content and choices which determine the next page they see. The question page is the most common type. It has content which ends with a question and the page shows a number of possible answers. The student's answer choice determines the next page they see. Branch tables are another type of page where students see content and can choose to move to different parts of the lesson by labeled buttons. Navigation through the lesson can be straight forward or complex and depends upon the structure of the material being presented

General information about the lesson and its methodology

A lesson is used when it is necessary to tell the students some information about the topic being taught. The topic is broken into small chunks and shown to the student bit by bit. Within the lesson these chunks are called Pages. The length of each page is arbitrary but normally it should not be more than the amount that comfortably fits on a screen.

The lesson can create a series of pages which can be presented in a linear fashion, like a slide show, or in a non-linear, branching manner, or a combination of the two. A student's choice will send them to any page that the teacher selects. For example, a particular answer might send the student back in the lesson for a review, while another answer will advance the student to a new page. The lesson can be graded with the use of questions, or ungraded and used simply as a resource of pages or a combination of both.

There are two basic modes: presentation and flash card. Most of the descriptions of a lesson in this document are about the presentation mode and the use of questions. The Flash Card section describes how to make lesson pages appear randomly.

Presentation Lesson

The Lesson activity includes many features to make cheating more difficult and the content more interesting through question clustering, password protection, and time limits.

By mixing content with questions, lesson enables you to implement the Practice Principle of eLearning (see Clark and Mayer, 2004), where practice is integrated with instructional material.

Pages, questions, answers and responses

A lesson is made up of pages. There are two basic types of Lesson pages: choice and navigation. The choice pages, "Branch Tables" or Question pages are the most common. Branch tables are for delivering content without a question, and can link to any other branch table or question in the Lesson. Each question page gives some information and then finishes with a question. The question can be easy or hard, depending on the audience. It should be directly related to the material covered in the page.

Attached to each question page is a set of answers to the question. Usually there is one correct answer and a small number of wrong answers. This type of question is called a multiple choice question. It's a common type of question and it is the default question type in the Lesson module. The number of answers can vary from page to page. Some pages can have one correct answer and three wrong answers, other pages may ask questions where there are three answers or even two answers (for example true or false, or just yes or no).

There is a limit to the number of answers. This maximum is one of the parameters of the Lesson module, set initially when you add a Lesson. However, this maximum limit is flexible and can be changed at any time. The limit just determines the number of boxes you see when adding or editing pages.

Along with the answers there is a set of responses (or feedback messages). Each answer has its own response. Once the student has chosen their answer, that response is displayed before the "new" page is displayed. (The word "new" is in quotes because the student may well be shown the same page again if they choose the wrong answer.) Responses can be short, a simple "That's right" or "That's wrong" might be sufficient. They could, however, explain why the answer which seemed right is actually wrong. When responses are left blank, the Lesson module shows the student a standard "That's the correct answer" or "That's the wrong answer" type of response.

There may be circumstances when the teacher does not want to end a page with a test. You may show students just a Continue link and take them to the next page in the lesson by leaving all Answers and Responses blank.

More information about pages can be found here. What exactly is meant by "the next page" is explained below.

Logical order and navigation order

The order of the pages of a lesson is usually determined by the material. Mostly the teacher will want to present the material in a way which is most easily understood and which builds in a logical and progressive way. In the Lesson module, this order is called the Logical Order and this is is how the pages are usually shown to the teacher. The teacher sees all the pages on one long screen with the first page at the top.

Once a lesson contains two or more pages the teacher can move existing pages around and add pages to any position within the set. This logical ordering of pages is also the default Navigation Order. The navigation order is the order in which the students see the pages. In the default navigation order, correct answers show the next page (in the Logical order) and incorrect answers show the same page again, that is the student is asked the same question again. This default navigation order may serve the needs of many lessons. However, it is possible to change the "Jump" associated with any answer so that a more complicated path through the lesson can be created for the student.

These Jumps can be divided into two types - Relative Jumps and Absolute Jumps. The default navigation using the relative jumps Next Page and Same Page, the destination of the Next Page jump is the next page in the logical order of the lesson. Absolute jumps specify the actual page to show next by specifying of the page's Title. Thus a lesson can have "branches", loops and a non-linear structure.

The teacher can see how a lesson's navigation "works" by using Check Question button at the end of each page or by using the Check Navigation link at the very end of the lesson, or Student view button in Moodle 1.6. The Check button "launches" the lesson at that page. The Check Navigation links starts the lesson at the first page, the way a student would see the lesson initially.

One use of jumps which don't follow the standard pattern is allowing a question to have more than one correct answer. More of that below.


Typically each question within a lesson will have one correct answer and several wrong answers, the familiar multiple choice question. Each answer can receive an individual response from the teacher before sending the student (with a jump setting) to view the same or another page.

As will be seen later, there are two ways to grade a lesson. In one method, the direction students are sent in the logical order of pages determines if the answer was correct or wrong for grading purposes. Usually a correct answer advances the student in the logical order and wrong answers send the students back to the question page or back in the logical order. The other method uses an answer's score to calculate the grade. Usually a correct answer receives a score of 1, any wrong answer receive a score 0. It is possible to give a negative score or partial credit for any answer.

When a question page is added, the jumps have a default setting. The jump for the first answer is the Next Page and it is a good practice to keep this as a right answer. The jumps for the subsequent answers are set to Same Page. The score for the first answer is 1 and for the rest 0. These settings can be changed by editing the question. Remember the order of the answers is going to be random each time a student enters the question page.

When Custom Scoring is turned On in the Lesson settings, then each answer has a point value associated with it. Next we will discuss grading a student's lesson.


Above we introduced the concept of correct answers and wrong answers. This lends itself to the giving students a grade when they have completed a lesson. In order to keep the method of grading reasonably transparent a relatively simple formula is used. It is the number of correct answers divided by the number of question pages seen. This number is then simply scaled by the grade parameter of the lesson.

When Custom Scoring is turned On in the Lesson settings, then the grading algorithm changes. Instead of the above, the grade is based on earned points by the user, which is divided by the total points possible. The teacher can assign a score for each response, this can be a negative or 0 (zero) or a positive number. Usually the score is 0 for a wrong answer and 1 for a correct answer. The point values associated with each of the user's answers are added up. That is then divided by the total of the maximum points that the user could have earned for each page answered. This number is then scaled by the grade parameter of the lesson.

A lesson is graded when the student reaches the End of Lesson. This point is usually reached by answering the question on the last (logical) page correctly.

The student does not have to go through all of the lesson in one "sitting". If a student goes through some pages and then breaks off, the next time they view the lesson they are asked whether they want to start at the beginning of the lesson or at the point where they left off. The latter point is actually the page they reached with their last correct answer. The previous "attempts" are recorded and the grade for "broken" sessions will include pages seen and questions answered in other sessions.

In a way giving a grade to a lesson is both a blessing and a curse. The main focus of a lesson should be the transfer of knowledge in a reasonably interesting way. Giving a grade may well turn the lesson into a kind of quiz where giving the answers correct is the sole goal. On the other hand, students like to get a perfect "score" and giving grades may well be the carrot needed to get the student to repeat the lesson until they get the magic 100%.

Although lessons do have grades, they should not be considered as assignments which lead to meaningful "marks". They are most useful as Formative Assignments where the grades, although some measure of activity, are not generally counted in the final mark for the course. If lessons are used in a formal way then it is probably best to use their grades in thresholds. For example "You must get an average of at least 80% overall in the eight lessons in this course before you can take the XYZ assignment." Lessons are mainly used to get across chunks of knowledge. Testing that knowledge is something else.

With that in mind, a lesson has a Retake option. That is the subject of the next part.


As mentioned earlier a lesson can be used as a formative assignment, imparting some knowledge while at the same time making some demands on the students. It seems natural that students should be allowed to re-visit lessons and because they are given a grade many will want to achieve a good grade. This promotes re-takes.

By default lessons allow re-takes. Each attempt at a lesson is normally recorded and the student can see a record of their performance (by viewing their complete activity page). The teacher when creating a lesson has the option of showing the "final" grade as either the mean of all the attempts or the best of all the attempts. This "final" grade is the one shown on the Grades page and the "Lessons" page. By default the mean of the grades is used.

Once a student has achieved the maximum possible grade in a lesson further attempts are allowed (although there is no benefit to their grade if the best grade is being used). They may well be exploring the various "wrong" paths in the lesson and may well come up with improvements.

In exceptional circumstances the teacher may not wish the students to have more than one attempt at a lesson. A particular lesson may be being used in an exam-like situation. Here the Lesson parameter for re-take is set to No. Once completed the lesson will then not allow students to re-take the lesson. If, however, the lesson is not completed in one "sitting", students are still allowed to restart the lesson at the beginning or at the point where they left off.

Building lessons

When creating a lesson the teacher is required to enter content into the first page. Once the first page is in place the teacher has the option of adding more pages in front or after that page. Once a question or branch page have been created, they can be edited by the teacher at any time. When the lesson contains more than one page the teacher also has the option of moving pages, that is, changing the order of the pages. Thus once the lesson is under construction the teacher can add pages, edit pages, remove pages and move pages.

A lesson will normally cover a limited amount of material. A topic or week might contain many lessons. Lessons are shown to the student in the home page for the course within "weeks" or "topics", and/or in the activity block when it is part of the course home page.

As with any lesson, it is a good idea to have a plan before starting the presentation. Simple lessons that basically go from the start to the end in a straight line path, one page after the other, can be created from an outline. More complicated lessons require more planning. The good news is that a teacher can create a simple lesson and then based upon feedback and performance, can add refinements or complexity.

Adding_a_question_page- more help on adding question pages
Adding_a_branch_table - more help on adding branch pages

Types of questions available within a lesson

Template:Moodle 1.6 Question type tabs.GIF

Multiple choice, multiple answer

The student is given a question and must select an answer from a list. Moodle can shuffle the list every time the question is view by a student. In a multiple choice question, the student selects one answer. In a multiple choice, multi answer, they select 1 or more from the list.

An example of a multiple choice question is:

Which of the following are mammals?
- A dog
- An ant
- A buttercup
- A cow

Questions can use pictures. Indeed, pictures can be used as answers.

Answers are scored. It is possible to give a negative score for an answer, or partial credit for a wrong answer. The teacher can give a responce based upon the answer.

See also Multiple_Choice_question_type

Short answer

In a short answer question the student is expected to answer with one word or a few words. Short-Answer question type gives more information about this kind of question Template:Moodle 1.6 Starting with Moodle 1.6, there are two different student answer analysis systems available for the Short Answer type of question in the Lesson Module: the simple system and the new regular expressions system. The simple system is the default and is the same used by the Quiz Module. There is a "Use Regular Expressions" option box on the Edit Question Page screen in the Lesson Module.

We suggest first reading about the Short answer question page with the examples of the "simple analysis", and then read the Short answer analysis page that gives more information about "Regular Expression analysis".

True / false

The True/False question is a special case of the multiple choice question.The student is prompted to choose which is the correct option.

Matching questions

Matching questions consist of a list of names or statements which must be correctly matched against another list of names or statements. For example "Match the Capital with the Country" with the two lists "Canada, Italy, Japan" and "Ottawa, Rome, Tokyo".

Unlike the Multichoice question where the choices are shown in a random order, the first list of items in a Matching question is not shuffled but shown in the same order as entered. Each match contributes to the question score. There is no feedback on this type of question.

See Matching question type for more information.

Numerical Question

This type of question requires a number as the answer. In it's simplest form it requires just one answer to be specified. For example "What is 2 plus 2?", where 4 is the correct answer. A numerical question will also accept a number in a range as being correct. The answers are similar to short answer, where the order that the teacher lists the answers is important.

See Numerical question type for more information.

Unfortunately the lesson numberical question differs from the numerical quiz question and the numerical embedded question (Cloze) in a couple of ways it evaluates answers.

Essay Questions

Short essay questions were introduced in Moodle version 1.5. These are meant for short, paragraph or two type of essays one often finds on exams. Thus we did not use the html editor, preferring a simple text field. For longer essays, the assignment module is a better choice.

The student simply enters their essay in the box provided. The teacher sees ungraded essay questions when opening the lesson. After grading, the teacher can email their responses to the student.

Essay question type page has more information.

Branches and branch tables

If your lesson delivers quite a lot of information, you can divide it into chapters or parts. These parts within a lesson are called branches in Moodle. One way of moving between these branches is by adding a page called a Branch Table.

Branch tables are simply pages which have a set of links to other pages in the lesson. They look similar to question pages. They have a title, content section, student choices and jumps that the student selects by their choice. There is no score for a student's choice. Branch tables also have some special uses.

Typically a lesson may start with a branch table which acts as a Table of Contents. Each link in a branch table has two components, a description and the title of the page to jumps to. A branch table can effectively divide the lesson into a number of branches (or sections). Each branch can contain a number of pages (probably all related to the same topic).

The end of a branch is usually marked by an End of Branch page. This is a which, by default at its creation, returns the student back to the preceding branch table as an absolute jump. However like any other jump, the "return" jump in an End of Branch page can be set to anywhere in the lesson. Be careful, if another branch page is added, the End of Branch jump will not change.

There can be more than one branch table in a lesson. For example, a lesson might usefully be structured so that specialist points are sub-branches within the main subject branches. (Thus the name used is Branch Table rather than Table of Contents page.) Also branch tables can be used instead of question pages. For example, a series of pages with information that continue to the next page, with the series ending with a question page about the content which was just covered.

The number of links shown when setting up or editing a branch table is set by the lesson setting "Number of Answers/Branches". This parameter can be changed on the fly by simply clicking on the Update the Lesson button at the top of the teacher's page and changing the value.

It is important to give students a means of ending the lesson. This might be done by including an "End Lesson" link in the main branch table. This jumps to the (imaginary) End of Lesson page. Another option is for the last branch in the lesson (here "last" is used in the logical ordering sense) to simply continue to the end of the lesson, that is, it is not terminated by an End of Branch page.

When a lesson includes one or more branch tables and you are not using custom scoring (where you enter a point value for each question) it is advisable to set the "Minimum number of Questions" parameter to some reasonable value. This sets a lower limit on the number of pages seen when the grade is calculated. Without this parameter a student might visit a single branch in the lesson, answer all its questions correctly and leave the lesson with the maximum grade!

Further, when a branch table is present a student has the opportunity of re-visiting the same branch more than once. However, the grade is calculated using the number of unique questions answered. So repeatedly answering the same set of questions does not increase the grade. (In fact, the reverse is true, it lowers the grade as the count of the number of pages seen is used in the denominator when calculating grades does include repeats.) In order to give students a fair idea of their progress in the lesson, they are shown details of how many questions they are answered correctly, number of pages seen, and their current grade on every branch table page. (This is one other thing teachers don't get to see - sorry!)

Lesson_Pages#Branch_.28Branch_Table.29-_Choice_Pages detailed help about editing a branch . Adding_a_branch_table reviews process.

The Flash card lesson

The Lesson module can be used as a type of Flash Card assignment by changing the lesson settings. In this kind of lesson, the student is shown pages (cards) in random order. Usually these are question pages. There is no set beginning and no set end. Just a series of cards shown one after another in no particular order.

There are two very similar variants of Flash Card behavior. A Flow Control option, "After a correct answer" set to "Show an unseen page" never shows the same page twice (even if the student did not answer the question associated with the Card/Page correctly). The other option is "Show an unanswered page" which shows the student pages that may have appeared before but only if they answered the associated question wrongly.

When using either of these Flash Card lessons the teacher can decide to use either all the Cards/Pages in the lesson or just a (random) sub-set. This is done through the "Number of Pages (Cards) to show" parameter also found in the Flow Control settings.

When using the Flash Card mode of presentation, setting the jumps is important. A correct answer jump should point to the Next Page, a wrong answer should stay on the same page.

The Lesson Flash Card mode is very similar to a random ordered Quiz, the difference is that the questions are shown one page at a time. And Further extra text can be included with each question in the Flash Card.

There is also a Flashcard_module that can be added to a Moodle site. It is also possible to create lesson segment that is a mini flashcard lesson with the use of special jumps and navigational pages called Clusters.

Linking and Dependencies

Template:Moodle 1.6


This setting allows this current lesson to be dependent upon a students performance in another lesson that is in the same course. If the performance requirement(s) is not met, then the student will not be able to access this lesson.

Conditions for the dependency include:

   * Time Spent: the student must spend this set amount of time in the required lesson.
   * Completed: the student must complete the required lesson.
   * Grade better than: the student must earn a grade in the required lesson that 
      is better than the one specified here.

Any combination of the above can be used if needed.

Link to an Activity

The drop-down menu contains all of the activities for this course. If one is selected, then a link to that activity will appear at the end of the Lesson along with links to score and course menu.

Other unusual ways to link

More advanced Moodlers can figure out how to place HTML links on a lesson page. Thus it is possible to create a link to another lesson/activity, a lesson/activity in another course, or even to a specific page in a lesson. While this method can be useful, the student may not be able to find their way back to the page with the link. In general, the links can be created by copying the location of the desired link from the browser's addressbar, then pasting it as a link.

See also

Http://moodle.tokem.fi Go to teacher's manual and select lesson. Still for Version 1.5.3 but good supplement or alternative to MoodleDocs. Very hands on for specific type of teacher.