General Pre-Emergency Planning Tips for Instructors

At the beginning of each semester:

Advice Guides & General Resources:

I’m new to Moodle. How can I get started?

In addition to the Moodle Basics help guide, the Moodle Basics Webinar Series will get instructors up and running with our learning management system:

You can also self-enroll (no enrollment key necessary) to access the Moodle Foundations Certificate mini-course. Work through the modules at your own pace to get more familiar with the system along with the Moodle Basics help guide.

If you would like to use Moodle on your mobile device or tablet, consider downloading the Moodle Mobile app.

How can I offer synchronous lectures/meetings for my students?

Zoom Video Conferencing

Zoom is a video web conferencing application where many individuals can join the same meeting and share audio and video. It also allows for screen sharing and presentation mode. You can record your Zoom meeting locally to your computer (do not record to Zoom Cloud), upload it to YouTube (as unlisted, see below), and make it available to your students by posting it as a URL resource or embedding the video in your course.

Migration of Zoom accounts to Single sign-on (SSO) has been completed by Campus Technology Services (CTS). Going forward, when you access Zoom from a web browser, visit From there you can Join or Host a meeting or Sign in to Zoom through the “Sign in” option using your credentials. Step-by-step directions are at CTS’s website.

Instructors can also schedule an in-depth Zoom Training Session with CTS Support Staff.

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact CTS or create a Work Order.

We recommend that you schedule and start Zoom sessions in your Moodle courses using the Zoom integration available in Moodle. View the full workshop recording or short video tutorial to add the Zoom integration dashboard to your Moodle course. 

CTS is offering Zoom Video Chat Tech Support during the following hours:
Monday - Friday: 8:00am - 4:45pm

Equipment you will need to use Zoom:

  • Device (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone) with a good internet connection, preferably wired or Wi-Fi
  • Headphones or earbuds (optional)
  • Microphone (if possible; a separate microphone can be better than your device’s built-in mic)
  • Web camera (optional, preferred for face-to-face contact)

Directions for Hosting a meeting as an Instructor
A free Zoom account will allow you to hold a live Zoom session for up to 40 minutes so be sure to contact CTS for an institutional Zoom account to run longer sessions. Directions for managing closed captioning and live transcription are available at the Zoom Help Center.

Directions for Joining a Meeting as a Participant
Students do not need to download their own free Zoom account, though some might want to have the application available on their own computer/device. In the case of students who do not want or are unable to download the Zoom application to their own computer/device, they can join Zoom sessions from a web browser.

Workshop Recordings:


More information about using Zoom can be found at the Zoom Help Center, including Zoom Video Tutorials.

Chat Activity in Moodle

The Chat activity in Moodle allows instructors to create a text-based chat room for real-time interaction with and among students. The Chat activity is also an option for holding virtual office hours and even allows you to schedule future Chat sessions.

Encouraging Student Participation Online—and Assessing It Fairly: Techniques and Methods to Involve More Voices in Virtual Classes by Ayelet Israeli

How can I pre-record asynchronous lectures and videos for my students?

Option #1: VoiceThread

VoiceThread allows you to set up slide shows including diverse kinds of media, where you can add comments through web cam, plain audio, or text, and also add annotations to your slides as you comment.  VoiceThread can be used as online lectures that your students can access anytime, or for asynchronous conversations among your class.  We’ve integrated VoiceThread into our Moodle system so that it’s available as an activity that you can add to any of your Moodle courses.  We recommend you use either Firefox or Chrome when working with VoiceThread. See our help guide for how to use VoiceThread to present lecture presentations to your students.

Workshop Recordings:

Option #2: YouTube

YouTube allows you to record a video right on your smartphone, laptop, or tablet and upload it directly to the video-sharing platform. YouTube makes it easy to Add Subtitles and Closed Captions. Using these directions, you can even upload a file or script. If you use Google Slides, you can provide real-time captioning as you narrate your presentation while sharing your screen via Zoom. More information at Google’s Present slides with captions  directions page. Please contact Rebecca Oling (Director of Digital Accessibility) for more information or alternate ways to make your videos fully accessible.

Once uploaded to YouTube, you can opt to make your video:

  • public (available to anyone),
  • private (only available to you), or
  • unlisted (available to anyone who has the link).

The TLTC recommends that instructors upload course-related content, such as recorded Zoom lectures, to YouTube as unlisted. Users can control the availability of their YouTube uploads at their YouTube Studio dashboard. To share the recording with your students, provide the YouTube URL using the URL resource or embed the video in your Moodle course. Due to their large size, you will not be able to upload a Zoom lecture (or other large media file) directly into Moodle.

Option #3: H5P Interactive Content

The H5P Interactive Content activity in Moodle has two content types in particular (“Course Presentation” and “Interactive Video”) that allow you to post course presentations and ensure students are engaging with the materials.

Workshop Recordings:

How can I facilitate course discussions with my students digitally?

The Forum activity provides an easy way to add discussions to your Moodle course when you can’t meet face to face with your students.  For whole class discussions on open ended topics, we recommend using the Single, Simple Discussion forum type.  If you want students to provide their answer to a framing question first before seeing what other students have said, and then be able to join into a larger conversation, then you will want to use the Question and Answer forum type. More about using Discussion Forums and the various types available can be found at the Moodle Basics help guide.

Consider adding a discussion Forum activity using the Standard forum for general use forum type  to create an informal “Student Lounge” or “Virtual Cafe” space; a place where students can talk about the course, ask and answer questions, and share resources and information with each other and the instructor. This type of forum allows anyone to start a new discussion on any topic at any time and is a great way to foster community in your remote or online course.

You can also use the VoiceThread activity that we’ve added to Moodle, for conversations that allow you and your students to use webcams or regular audio to contribute.  Although still an asynchronous activity, this ability to have more social presence in the conversation beyond just text replies makes the conversations more engaging.  You can set up VoiceThread slides with media dealing with course content, and open the presentation up to student commenting in order to have the class conversation.

Workshop Recordings:

How can I have students do individual or group presentations?

If you are using Zoom sessions to hold synchronous online classes, then one of the students can share their screen with the presentation, while all of them can use their computer microphones or their phones to speak to the class.  It would be a good idea for everyone to do a technology check in advance of the presentation sessions. Additionally, we ask that you ensure any presentation files, like PowerPoint (.ppt, .pptx) are uploaded in your Moodle course before of the presentation so that applicable students are able to follow along without barriers as much as possible. If you need a refresher on how to ensure your PowerPoint files are accessible, please contact Rebecca Oling or the TLTC.

You can also set up a VoiceThread activity where everyone in the class can share VT presentations.  Students can do their presentations as VTs, share them to the class, and everyone can use the commenting function in VoiceThread to hold an asynchronous conversation on the presentation.

How can I collect student assignments digitally?

Moodle has a feature to collect assignments digitally, provide students feedback, and share student grades (using the Moodle Gradebook). The two most common ways to collect work from students through Moodle is by using the Moodle Assignment activity or the Turnitin  Assignment activity. Both activities are widely used by faculty at Purchase to collect papers and other digital projects.

If you use the basic Moodle Assignment activity, you can opt to setup the assignment to make use of Annotate PDF, a grading interface that allows you to mark up submissions.

Similarly, if you use Turnitin, you can make use of the Turnitin Feedback Studio features to mark up submissions.

You can collect more than just documents using the basic Assignment activity in Moodle.  Set up your assignment as a text submission instead of a file upload, and students can provide links to videos of themselves doing performances or other activities.  Moodle will automatically embed the videos from linked YouTube or Vimeo pages into the assignment submissions, so you can view the videos from within the Moodle grading interface.  (YouTube videos can be uploaded as ‘unlisted’ so they are not searchable, but still be available for Moodle submission by direct URL.)

You can also set up VoiceThread activities in assignment mode.  There are two formats available.  You can share one of your VT presentations, and assign students to make one or more comments on the VT.  Or you can set up the assignment for students to create and share their own VT presentation.  In either case, VoiceThread provides a grading interface where you can view and grade student work, and have those grades transfer to the Moodle gradebook.

How can I share student grades confidentially and digitally?

Moodle allows you to communicate individual grades and total grades with students. This is facilitated by the Moodle Gradebook. Students will only ever see their own grades and not the grades of anyone else in the course. Keep in mind that the Moodle gradebook does not communicate with MyHeliotrope, where official course grades are submitted.

As a precaution, we recommend that you backup your grades outside of the Moodle gradebook environment. You can use a spreadsheet (e.g. Excel, Google Sheets) and/or backup on paper.

How can I communicate updates, changes, and other relevant information to my students?

The TLTC recommends that instructors use the Course Announcements forum that appears in each Moodle course to quickly and easily send emails to your entire course. Using the Course Announcements forum, Moodle will email the message to all enrolled students in your course as well as keep a copy of the email/announcement in the Course Announcements forum in your Moodle course.

How can I facilitate exams/quizzes digitally with my students?

Moodle offers a robust Quiz activity that allows you to create a variety of questions (multiple choice, short answer, matching, etc.), populate questions in your Question Bank, and then assemble questions in your Question Bank into a Quiz. Check out Moodle’s Building a Quiz step-by-step guide to get started. Be sure to develop quizzes usable for ALL of your students. Quiz questions containing images or tables and graphs should be described for those with low/no vision. Do NOT choose “description not necessary” if you can avoid it and don’t leave pre-populated information in the Image Description field without checking it first.

Testing Accommodations

H5P Interactive Content is another tool available in our Moodle instance that allows you to create dynamic and interactive course content, including quizzes. 

How can I conduct secure online exams through Moodle?

We now have Safe Exam Browser available on our Moodle system, as a way to conduct secure online exams.