5.6 Advanced Features

Advanced Features as a Whole

Location: Site administration > Advanced features

Advanced features are items that extend functionality in course building and in site-wide use. You must enable items in this area of Site Administration in order for them to be used on the site. One example may be if your instructors are taking Blackboard Open LMS Course Building for Advanced Users course, they will need the ability to use outcomes. It is recommended that you only enable features in this area that will actually be in use on your site. Enabling features that will not be used can only cause confusion.

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Outcomes

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Enable outcomes

Blackboard Open LMS currently supports two types of Outcomes (also known as Competencies, Goals, Standards, or Criteria) systems.

The Enable Outcomes menu specifies the type of outcome system that is enabled in your site. You can select to disable outcomes completely, enable the New or Legacy Outcomes only, or enable both at the same time. You should leave outcomes disabled if you have never used outcomes, instead consider using Moodle Competencies.

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Comments

Location: Site administration > Advanced Features > Enable comments

The Comments block can be added to any page, enabling users to easily add comments. A similar interface enables comments to be added to the glossary, database activity, and blog entries. If you want teachers to be able to add the Comments block to their courses, you must enable this setting.

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Tags Functionality

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Enable tags functionality

Tags allow students and teachers to describe their interests in a way that is easy for people with similar interests to find them. The user’s profile has a place to enter interests, which will create or add the user to an existing tag. Tag pages can be viewed and blog posts can be tagged. From the Tags page, administrators can add official tags as well as manage existing tags. It is recommended that you enable tagging systems on your site.

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Notes

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Enable notes

The setting Enable notes is on by default. Uncheck the box if you do not want teachers and other roles on the site to have this capability. Visit Moodle Docs for more information about using Notes. It is up to each administrator whether or not to enable notes on the system.

 

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Portfolios

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Enable portfolios

This will allow administrators to configure remote systems for users to export content to. Portfolios, especially digital or electronic portfolios, are gaining in popularity amongst all areas of academia. It is recommended that you leave this feature disabled unless your institution has a portfolio system for end-users to subscribe to.

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Web Services

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Enable web services

Web services enable other systems to log in to this Moodle site and perform operations. If you are a Blackboard Open LMS client, the addition of any Web service tool will most likely require a code review and customization. For extra security, this feature should remain disabled unless you are really using it.

Location: Site administration > Mobile app

Additionally, there is a separate web service setting for the Moodle Mobile app. Determine the Mobile app web services configurations, update mobile authentication, and mobile appearance within these settings. For more information on the Mobile app visit the Moodle Mobile page.

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Messaging System

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Enable messaging system

Unchecking this box will disable the messaging system for all users. Most users rely on messaging for communication. It is recommended that this stay enabled.

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Allow site-wide messaging

Enable this box to allow site-wide messaging. This will allow users to see a list of all users on the site when selecting someone to message.

If you wish to use any type of messaging on your system, this setting must be enabled.

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Notifications

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Hide read notifications

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Delete read notifications

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Notification email override

If enabled, you can hide or delete read notifications. Read notifications can be deleted to save space. Here, you should choose how long after being read you want notifications to be deleted from the system. It is recommended that you do not hide read notifications, but that you delete them after one week of being read.

If Notification email override is enabled, users can have e-mail message notifications sent to an e-mail address other than the e-mail address in their profile. If your organization doesn’t limit the e-mail domains at which users can receive e-mails, you may want to enable this feature. Giving users this permission allows them to leave their profile e-mail address the same, but receive e-mails at their address of choice.

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Statistics

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Enable statistics

If you choose ‘yes’ here, Moodle’s cronjob will process the logs and gather some statistics. Depending on the amount of traffic on your site, this can take awhile. If you enable this, you will be able to see some interesting graphs and statistics about each of your courses, or on a site-wide basis. By default, Statistics are not enabled on your Blackboard Open LMS site (or in the standard Moodle download) because of the stress it puts on the server while they are processing.

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RSS Feeds

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Enable RSS

RSS is a functionality which allows certain web browsers and specialized programs to automatically check for updates to a page. To allow for RSS feeds in the site, check the box found here. It is suggested that you enable this feature, as it can be especially useful in forums.

To actually see any change, you will need to enable RSS feeds in the individual modules. Go to Administration > Site administration > Plugins > Activity modules > Manage activities, and configure the RSS feeds individually for each activity which supports it.

For using RSS in Forums:

  1. Enable RSS in Site administration > Advanced features > Enable RSSfeeds.
  2. Go to Site administration > Plugins > Activity modules > Manage activities > Forums, and enable RSS for them. Creators of forums will still have to turn on RSS manually when creating a forum.

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Blog Visibility

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Blog

This setting allows you to enable or disable all site users to create their own blog entries in the system. If you want all site users to be able to create blog entries, you must enable this setting.

If you decided to enable blogs, go to Administration > Site administration > Appearance > Blog to define blog settings.

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Networking

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Networking

MNet allows communication of the server with other servers or services. This feature will typically not be necessary for Blackboard Open LMS customers to enable. One exception may be clients who are also Mahara users. If you are a Mahara user, you will need to work closely with Blackboard Support to get your Networking fully enabled and running. Do not enable Networking unless you will actually be using it for performance reasons.

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Completion Tracking and Restricted Access

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Enable completion tracking

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Enable restricted access

The first option lets you turn on completion tracking (progress) features at the course level. The second option, a drop-down menu, lets you determine what the default completion tracking is set to. You can choose either the default for the activity or not tracked at all. When enabled, the third option lets you set conditions (based on date, grade, or completion) that control whether an activity or section can be accessed at the course level. It is recommended that you leave both of the checkbox options enabled so that instructors and course builders can use them. It is also recommended that you keep the Default completion tracking setting on the default of “Use activity default.”

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Plagiarism Plugins

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Plagiarism plugins

Enabling this setting will allow administrators to configure plagiarism plugins (if installed) under Site administration > Plugins > Plagiarism plugins. It is not necessary to enable this setting unless you are planning on installing a plagiarism plugin (e.g., Turnitin).

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Enable Badges

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Enable badges

This setting allows you to enable or disable badges in your site. If you want teachers to be able to grant badges in their courses, you must enable this setting.

To define settings and manage badges at the site level, go to Administration > Site administration > Badges.

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Global Search

Location: Site administration > Advanced features > Enable global search

If this setting is enabled, users will be able to search the site. Searchable items include users, messages, user courses, activities information, and some activities content like forum posts, book chapters, glossary entries, database entries, and collaborative wiki pages. If a user, in a student role, is in a group when searching for course activities a user will only see the content to which they are part of the group. Additionally, filters are in place to narrow down search results.

In addition, the PHP Solr plugin will need to be enabled. Once enabled a search icon is added next to the user menu. After a user enters a term in the search engine they are prompted with a filter to narrow their search results.

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Stealth Activities

Location: Site Administration > Advanced features > Allow stealth activities

Any activity may be set as a stealth activity. This feature allows an activity to be available but not shown on the course page. To set an activity as stealth first set the activity to hidden, then from the edit menu select available. This will make the activity available to students but will not display on the course page. Now a course designer can link to these activities on a different page to make them accessible to the students. For example, a teacher may want to create a page that lists all course quizzes. Instead of creating a topic with each quiz the teacher may set each activity to be in stealth mode and then link to them.

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