SUPSI.3

Moodle TextCloud

Long Title: Text Clouds for Moodle courses
Leading
Organization:
Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana
Domain: ELS
Status: finished
Start Date: 08.11.2010
End Date: 31.12.2010
Project Leader: R. Mazza

Learners should reach their desired resources in few clicks. But to find a particular learning resource in a Learning Management System like Moodle or in a specific course is sometimes not easy at all. Text clouds can help to find a targeted file with only one click.

Results

The software (Moodle text cloud plugin) is released as free software under the GPL software license and is available for download in the Sourceforge website.
The results of this project will be presented at the MoodleMoot Italia 2011 Conference that will be held in Trieste in June 2011.

In this project a plugin for the LMS Moodle was created that generates a block with a text cloud of the most popular keywords of the course. Text keywords are automatically extracted from course resources (HTML and text pages, PDF files, WORD and PPT documents, ODF documents), and correspond to the most frequent words that appear in course resources. Keywords are represented in form of a tag cloud visualization. The size of keywords in the visual representation reflects the frequency of the keywords among the resources of the course. Keywords in visual representations are hyperlinks. When the user click on a keyword, a small pop-up shows a collection of resources that contains that keyword. The user can then select and immediately access the requested resource. The instructors can include this block in their course, and the students will see the visualization that can be used for a direct access to the resources that are associated with a keyword.
The software works with version 1.9.x and 2.0 of Moodle.

Initial Situation

According to a statistic conducted by the eLab on 1743 Moodle courses run at USI and SUPSI in the academic year 2008/09, the average number of resources (HTML, PDF, PPT and other formats) used in a course is 21. 196 out of the 1743 existing Moodle courses provided on-line more than 50 resources, and the maximum number of resources found in a single course was 259.
When the number of resources is high (above 20), it becomes difficult for learners to find a particular resource that they might need for their studies. They have to sequentially browse among all the available reources to find the right one. The worst (and not so uncommon) case is when the title of a resource is not meaningful (such as slides lesson 1, slides lesson 2, etc.). In this case students have to download and open each single file and read all the contents, in order to find the right resource(s).

Goals

We want to improve the usability of Moodle, and allow learners to reach the desired resources in fewer clicks. The inclusion of a text cloud of the most important keywords on Moodle interface is a way to facilitate learners in finding a particular resource with a single click.
The purpose of this project is to create a new block for Moodle that generates a text cloud with the most popular keywords of the course.
Text keywords are automatically extracted from course resources (HTML and text pages, PDF files, WORD and PPT documents, ODF documents), and correspond to the most frequent words that appear in course resources.
Keywords are represented in the typical visual representation of tag cloud arrangement with alphabetical sorting in a sequential line-by-line layout. The size of keywords in the visual representations represents the number of times that the keyword has been applied to a single document. Keywords in visual representations are hyperlinks. When the user clicks on a keyword, a small pop-up shows a collection of resources that are associated with a keyword. The user can then select and immediately access the requested resource.

This feature will be implemented as additional add-in for the Moodle platform. Instructors can include this block in their course(s), and the students will see the visualization that can be used for a direct access to the resources that are associated with a keyword.
The software will be released as Free software under the GPL software license and will be available for download in the Moodle.org and the Sourceforge website. Two implementations of the software will be created in order to run with version 1.9.x and version 2.0 of Moodle.

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