Using Conditional activities
An example of use
Here follows a basic example. Students are required to undertake 4 tasks in a precise order. According to their score in a quiz, the fourth task - a Moodle lesson - is either at a lower or more advanced level. They must
- view a webpage explaining the course
- post an introductory message in a forum
- take a quiz
- move onto a lesson tailored to their performance in the quiz.
Here is the teacher view.
Students will only see the first task (the webpage)with the second task (the forum) greyed out. The other tasks only appear once the conditions have been met. How's it done?
- Task 1, the webpage must be read (or at least viewed) before students can access the forum. In task 1 the activity completion condition is set to require view
- Task 2, the forum, needs to have the "Restrict availablity" section set such that the webpage Read This First must be marked complete. It is also set so the forum is greyed out until available:
- Task 2, the forum, needs to require students to make a post before they can do the quiz. The activity completion condition is set to " require posts"
- Task 3, the quiz, needs to have the "Restrict availablity section " set such that the forum must be marked complete. It is also set so that that the quiz is completely hidden until a student has posted in the forum:
- Task 4 is two lessons - either at level 1 (basic) or level 2 (advanced). If the student scores less than 50% in the quiz they do Level 1; if they score more, they do Level 2. In the Level 1 lesson, the "Restrict Availablity" section is set such that students can only access it if they get under 50% in the quiz
The Level 2 lesson has the "Restrict availability" section such that students can only access it if they get 50% or more:
Tricks and techniques
With a bit of lateral thinking, you can achieve some interesting results beyond the most obvious uses of the system. Here is one example:
Imagine that you let students choose one of two projects. Each project has its own activities (a forum for all the people doing that project, resources with information about the project, etc). You want it to hide all the activities that a student isn't doing.
This can already be achieved in Moodle using the Groupings system. However, conditional activities gives another way to set this up which might be preferable in some cases. Here's how:
- Create two forums called 'Frog project sign-up forum' and 'Zombie project sign-up forum'.
- Set both forums to be automatically marked complete once the user makes 1 post.
- Set each forum to be conditionally available only if the other forum is NOT complete.
- Create other activities for the frog and zombie projects. For each Frog activity, set it to be conditionally available only if the Frog sign-up forum is marked complete. For each Zombie activity, set it to be conditionally available only if the Zombie sign-up forum is marked complete.
When a student first visits the site, they see the frog and zombie sign-up forums and none of the project activities. As soon as they post in one of the forums, the other forum will disappear, and all the activities for their preferred project will appear. (If they want to change their mind, they can delete their forum post so that it isn't marked complete any more, and it'll be back to square one.)
Discussion: Should you really use conditional activities?
Conditional activities are a way for you to force your students to do things in a certain order. Is that really what you want? The answer will depend on your particular circumstances, but it is worth taking a moment to reflect upon the degree to which conditional activities are appropriate for your course.
It is certainly good course design to make it clear to your students what they are expected to do next, to give good guidance. But do you need to use force? Might it not be better to leave students in control of their own learning and just use labels and layout, rather than locks and keys to suggest the best path?
New adaptive learning paths
This may allow the teacher to separate students by a range of performance they have achieved. For example, after a quiz any one of three different lessons might appear to a student, depending upon their score. The teacher can have one for low scores, one for high scores and one for average score ranges. The teacher could have a short quiz like survey, with 7 questions asking the student to give their feelings on a 1 to 5 scale. A range of scores would reveal different activities. Students who liked dark colors might get the black and gray activities revealed, those who liked light colors might get the white and gray activities.
On the other hand, you may have to design a certified training course that requires approval from unenlightened government regulators. Conditional activities will assure them that the trainees have been exposed to everything in the course, in a fixed order, and that the trainees must meet certain quantifiable standards from time to time before being allowed to proceed in the course. Correct use and explanation of conditional activities may ensure validation of your course.