This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

Moodle’s glossary module is a kind of online dictionary that students and or the teacher can create together. Like any dictionary, it has concepts and definitions, but unlike any other dictionary, Moodle can automatically link concepts and keywords anywhere in your Moodle site to a popup window with their definitions in the glossary.

In 2005, a language teacher named Joseph Rézeau put a post on explaining how he uses this feature of Moodle to provide students with corrective feedback. Instead of adding concepts and definitions, he showed how you could add errors and feedback messages. With the autolinking feature and case sensitivity, it becomes a very powerful tool for language teachers to use with their students.

Hand-coded correction.

MS-Word correction.

Moodle correction.

Above are ways to provide corrective feedback on the same student text. The first is hand-coded with 20 errors identified. The second is the same text in MS Word. Word caught only nine, and it missed all of the transfer errors from the learner’s L1 which is French, but caught the missing morphology in the last line. The third is the same text posted to an online forum on a Moodle site. The grey boxes around the words are autolinks that Moodle inserted automatically, linking errors to corrective feedback messages in Moodle’s glossary module.

If you click on “sophie,” Moodle opens a popup window with the capitalization rule that proper names must always be capitalized. This is a message that I created with my own examples. If you click on “am born,” a popup opens with my message calling it a tense error. Similarly, with “have 17 years,” the student has immediate access to my feedback with as much or as little error-correction information as I wish to give. I need to correct each error only once and never again because Moodle will automatically add the link to the error, instantly.

You get the point, but here is where it gets really interesting. Remember that Moodle is web-based, so that means I can incorporate all of the resources of the web into my feedback messages. If you click on “I study in,” a message pops up with two Google search results: one for “I study in Social Sciences” and one for “I study Social Sciences.” The student can now compare the 1 result versus the almost 80 000 results and start to see how Google can be used as a concordancer to help make probabilistic grammaticality judgments based on search engine data. If you click on “I like to do party,” a link to the second most popular search engine appears. Click on it, and the student will hear “I like to party” 4 times in 18 seconds. Voila! Input flooding. Click on “since 2 years,” the popup this time contains a link to a quiz, with a chance for remedial practice and further feedback.

With Moodle, there is as much or as little error-correction information as the teacher wants to give in a single click.

Now, don’t think that this feedback is restricted to forum posts alone. Feedback on errors will automatically link to messages in email, blogs, profiles, wikis, essays, and chatroom discussions. For example, I have asked my students to find the differences between two pictures by describing the details of their pictures in Moodle’s chatroom. In this way, I can provide my students with an average of 2 corrections a minute as detailed as the ones described above. Moodle does it faster and better than even the fastest typist among us.

So let’s compare power tools. MS Word is instant, and so is Moodle. Word found 9 errors. Moodle found 14. Word ignored transfer errors. Moodle caught them. Word gives learners the opportunity to auto-correct-potentially robbing the learner of a chance to notice the error. With Moodle, all corrections are manual. With Word, the rule and examples are just 3 clicks away. With Moodle, there is as much or as little error-correction information as the teacher wants to give in a single click.

The future is Moodle!

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Anne-Gaëlle Habib
Anne-Gaëlle Habib
22 September 2010 13h09

I remember that fonction in your course, it is really interesting and easy for students to use this.
Thanks for your story, I’m totally ok with you : the future is moodle 🙂

Lizotte François
Lizotte François
22 September 2010 13h26

Glad to hear that the future is Moodle! I really like the way the glossary tool is used. To me, it’s halfway between crazy and brilliant. The link to a short YouTube video to teach a specific language point is particularly interesting. I wonder how much grey words I would get if the glossary was implemented in Profweb’s comments space.

Dayoung Lee
Dayoung Lee
29 September 2010 17h33

just “wow” that I I gotta say
that’s wishful for Korean English learners