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  1. Learning at City Conference 2017
  2. Conference Sessions
Learning Enhancement and Development

Session 1E - Paper 1

Enhancing learning materials to create a uniform VLE by moving away from PDFs, PPTs and DOCs

Mr Dionisios Dimakopoulos - Continuing Education, Research & Enterprise Office, City, University of London
Mr Gerard Luskin - Continuing Education, Research & Enterprise Office, City, University of London

We will share our approach to create fully contained HTML files that can be uploaded to Moodle instead of PDFs and PPTs. The resulting files can be used as slides, handouts and documents, but open seamlessly in a range of devices, such as laptops, tablets and phones and are responsive.

Moodle is not used to its maximum potential by HEIs, as most tutors are reluctant to use features such as books and lessons, and ends up being a document storage facility where we upload all our PDFs, PPTs and DOCs for students to read. This issue dominated the MoodleMoot UK-IE conference in 2016 (MoodleMoot IEUK schedule, 2016). It made us wonder whether there is an intermediate step between sharing vendor specific formats, which require special software and don’t work well on mobile devices, and pushing tutors to only create materials written using Moodle specific content generation tools, such as lessons and books.


This exploration has led to the creation of a process that offers uniform looking documents, presentations and handouts in a format that is embeddable in Moodle simply by drag n drop (as PDFs are), but creates an HTML page that is viewable by mobile devices without extra software and can be responsive to different screens. The creation of these documents is done using the MarkDown markup language (MacFarlane, 2017), which is very easy to learn and write, and is faster than creating a Word or PowerPoint document. The use of MarkDown to create slides and documents for teaching materials is gaining momentum among many colleagues around the world, but is prohibitively complex for newcomers (Goldstone, 2014; Yandell, 2005). We will show an alternative procedure we are currently developing that uses Word and PowerPoint as content creators of the new self-contained HTML pages.


In this paper we will present our current process, pointing out advantages and disadvantages of the methods used, as well as potential solutions to problems currently being faced. This presentation will also allow us to gauge engagement with the topic and interest from colleagues who will help us improve our process before submitting it for the Moodle UK conference in 2018.

Attendees will get a clear view of alternatives to PDFs, PPTs and DOCs. They will be able to make an informed decision which tool to use to create uniform and responsive documents that will work well on all devices.
Attendees will be able to register to our testing group to use the new tools as they are being released and give feedback on the functionality, or request new features.

References:

MoodleMoot IEUK schedule (2016), Available at: https://mootieuk.moodlemoot.org/course/view.php?id=81%20 (Accessed: 30 April 2017)

MacFarlane, J. (2017) PanDoc MarkDown, Available at: http://johnmacfarlane.net/pandoc/README.html#pandocs-markdown (Accessed: 30 April 2017)

Goldstone, A. (2014) Easy Lecture Slides Made Difficult with Pandoc and Beamer, Available at: https://andrewgoldstone.com/blog/2014/12/24/slides/ (Accessed: 30 April 2017)

Yandell, B.S. (2005) Producing slide shows with Pandoc, Available at: http://pages.stat.wisc.edu/~yandell/statgen/ucla/Help/Producing%20slide%20shows%20with%20Pandoc.html (Accessed: 30 April 2017)

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.