Moodle + BigBlueButton = Awesome

Ask an you will receive. Two days ago I posted about discovering BigBlueButton and wondered if there was a way to integrate it into Moodle. Yep, there is. Thanks to Luc, Fred, and Denis who were kind enough to post in the comments where I could find one.

The eLearning company Dual Code makes a GPLed module that connects Moodle to your BigBlueButton server. Once it is installed things are simple. A teacher can add a BigBlueButton assignment that will create a room on the BigBlueButton server.

BigBlueButton Assignment. It's that easy.

Just fill out the information and you are good to go.

Once the teacher has created the room students will be able to enter it by clicking on the assignment under Moodle. The room will be closed until a moderator enters the room. This is great to make sure there is always someone there for the students and so students can’t accidently go in as a moderator.

Setting it up on your Moodle server.

  1. Download the plug-in from http://www.dualcode.com/bigbluebutton/
  2. Unzip the directory and you will find two folders: lang and mod
  3. In the mod folder you will find a folder called bigbluebutton. As an adminstrator put this folder into the mod directory of your Moodle server. It is at the top level of your Moodle directory. This provides the functionality of the module.
  4. In the lang folder you will find a folder called en_utf8. In that folder you will see a file called bigbluebutton.php. That file need to go to the same location on your Moodle server (yourmoodleinstall/lang/en_utf8/bigbluebutton.php). This provides the language files we need to make it work.
  5. In the lang folder you will find a folder called en_utf8. In that folder you will see another folder called help. Open it an you will see a folder called bigbluebutton. Copy the folder to the same location on your server (yourmoodleinstall/lang/en_utf8/help/bigbluebutton). This provide the help files when you click on a question mark in Moodle.
  6. Login as administrator and go to Notifications. Moodle will detect the module and take care of everything else.
  7. Go to Modules > Activities > Manage Activities. You can click the eye to give teachers access to BigBlueButton.
  8. Click Settings beside BigBlueButton. We need to tell Moodle a few things about our BigBlueButton server.
  9. Make sure you click the “I am hosting my own BigBlueButton Server”
  10. Input the IP address of your BigBlueButton server.
  11. Input the Security Salt from your BigBlueButton server. You can find this in a file called “bigblueutton.properties” on your BigBlueButton server. On my Ubuntu server I found it at /var/lib/tomcat6/webapps/bigbluebutton/WEB-INF/classes/bigbluebutton.properties. The security salt string you are looking for can be found after beans.dynamicConferenceService.securitySalt=your_number_here. Input that long string of numbers and letter to the field in Moodle.
  12. Put a star in the Meeting IDs field. That will allow an unlimited number of rooms be created. You can also put any number here to restrict how many rooms on your BigBlueButton server you want going at one time. This can be helpful for performance issues.
  13. You should now be able to start a room by choosing it as an assignment.

Have fun out there folks.

Getting the GeoGebra filter working in Moodle

This morning I installed the GeoGebra filter onto our colleges Moodle server. It didn’t work. After a bit of research I found that the current version available on the Moodle site contains an older version of GeoGebra. This causes trouble. A few more minutes of Google-fu uncovered a modified version of the Moodle GeoGebra module which uses the .jar from geogebra.org. It worked! You can get it right here. Below are the instructions to get it working on your Moodle server.

A modified version of the moodle geogebra module which uses the .jar from geogebra.org

Using the geogebra filter makes it a lot easier to embed geogebra worksheets into
moodle online documents.

How it works:
During installation of the filter the file geogebra.jar will be placed in the moodle central folder and registered at the Moodle system. Teachers will be able to embed previously uploaded *.ggb (Geogebra) files into a moodle online document simply by creating a link to the ggb file using (as usual) the link symbol in the editor bar.
As an option you will be able to customize width and height of the applet. When saving the document, the link will be automatically converted in HTML-Code, which will display the applet instead of the link.

Installation: (by Moodle Admin)
1. Upload the complete folder “geogebra” into the folder  moodle–>filter
2. In Moodle, navigate to Moodle->Administration->Configuration->”Filter” and click on the entry
“geogebra” to activate the filter

Usage:
1. In a Moodle course: -> Add a resource ->compose a website
2. Write content. At the position the applet should appear, create a link to the (previously uploaded) *.ggb file.
a Write some link text
b Select the link text.
c Click the chain icon ì in the tool bar of the editor.
3. In the appearing small Window choose your .ggb file. (Change folder, if necessary.)
4. Optionally: At the end of the link text type values for width and height of the applet according to the following  pattern: myfile.ggbwidth=600height=300 (Default values 400×400)
5, Close the window

Be aware of the fact, that you dont’t see the applet unless you leave the editor and save your document.
On reopening it later, you will notice the link rather than the applet.

Enable Extensions in OS X version of Chrome (well Chromium)

Goolge FINALLY released the beta of its web browser Chrome. It only took them close to two years to do so. While not quite ready for prime time as my browser of choice (currently FireFox 3.5) it is super fast and has a lot to offer. For now it has won a coveted spot in my dock.

Chrome, Chromium, FireFox

Chrome, Chromium, FireFox

However, I find myself wanting more. Extensions to be exact. They are currently turned of in the latest version of Chrome so you can’t install any of the great extensions that is currently available for Windows Chrome users. I am not sure why this is but where there is a will and a geek there is a way. Follow the steps below and you too will be in web browser extension heaven.

  1. While Chrome is great and all you will not (as of today) be able to install extensions on the Mac version. You will actually need to download the open source project on which Chrome is built, Chromium. The latest builds have extensions turned on. You can find the latest version here. Just download and drag to your Applications folder.
  2. Launch Chromium and head on over to the Google Chrome Extensions page.
  3. Choose an extension. I chose Chromed Bird first. You will notice that the Install button is greyed out.Screen shot 2009-12-09 at 11.21.38 AM
  4. Even though the latest builds of Chromium have extensions turned on, the install button remains inactive. Thanks to grack.com we have a pretty neat solution.
  5. In Chromium drag the link in step 6 to your bookmark bar. If your bookmark bar isn’t showing goto View > Always Show Bookmark Bar
  6. Enable Extension Install
  7. This link will activate any extension for installation. Visit an extension page, again I am using Chromed Bird. The install button will still be inactive. Press the Enable Extension Install button in your bookmark bar.
  8. This Install button should now be active.Screen shot 2009-12-09 at 11.56.51 AM
  9. Click the Install button and away you go.

Embedding VoiceThread in Moodle

My undergraduate class is creating VoiceThreads at the moment and I was looking for a way to embed them into Moodle. While I know you can copy the embed data provided by Voicethread, enter html mode in Moodle, and it will work that way, there exists a more elegant solution.

Step 1: Get the filter. (This needs to be done by a Moodle admin).

VoiceThread has a Moodle filter for this very purpose. You can grab it here. You can also download the zip or tgz directly. Unzip/untar the file into the filters directory under your Moodle folder. Make sure it is the entire VoiceThread folder. I should also note that this filter is for Moodle 1.9 and above.

Make sure the folder goes here.

Make sure the folder goes here.

Step 2: Turn the filter on.

As a Moodle administrator under the Site Administration click on Modules > Filters > Manage Filters. Click on the closed eye next to the Voicethread filter to turn it on. You do not need to worry about the settings at this point. You will only need to change settings in there if you have a VoiceThread sub-site.

The open eye means the filter is active.

The open eye means the filter is active.

Step 3: How to use the filter.

Now you should be ready to embed a VoiceThread into any editable text space. I chose to embed mine into a web page. There are two options for embedding, one for a larger size and one smaller.

  • [[vt:nnnnnn]] – This will embed a larger size
  • [[vtsmall:nnnnnn]] – This will embed a smaller size.

The n’s represent the number of your VoiceThread. This is easy to find. Just click share on your VoiceThread and it will give you a URL. Such as http://voicethread.com/share/650591/. The final number is your VoiceThread number. So [[vt:650591]] would embed this VoiceThread into Moodle.

Remember to use the square brackets

Remember to use the square brackets

Success!

Success!

While this isn’t as good as a VoiceThread button in the WYSIWYG tools it is better than messing with the HTML. Let me know how it goes.

NoteShare Script to Search Twitter

Thanks to Ann Marie Quirion Hutton, I have a script that searches twitter for a term and returns the results to a NoteShare notebook. It is a tad of a pain to get the script installed so here are directions to get you on the right track.

First, you will need to download the script here.

Now you need to create a folder to put the script in. You won’t have this folder unless you have created it for other NoteShare scripts in the past. I wish the NoteShare installer created it for ease of use (are you reading this Scott Love?). Anyways, create folder in your /Users/username/Library/ called scripts. In that folder create a folder called NoteShare. If that is confusing, the full path should be /Users/username/Library/scripts/Noteshare (replacing username with your home folder name).

Put to the SearchTwitter.scpt you just downloaded in there.

Now fire up NoteShare. You may or may not see the SearchTwitter script in the Scripts menu. If not, we need to force NoteShare to look in the folder we just created. Go to NoteShare>Preferences in your menu bar. In the general tab uncheck, then check the Include AppleScript menu checkbox.

You should now be able to choose SearchTwitter from the Scripts menu. Enter a term and the script will search twitter and return the 15 latest tweets that match. Have fun.