Tips, Tricks, Toys & Shiny Things: eLearning News

An Evolving Blog about Learning Technology @ Barking & Dagenham College
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  • Google Docs Tip: QR Codes in a Spreadsheet

    Posted on April 11th, 2012 admin No comments

    By complete accident I stumbled over Jill Thompson’s blog post on QR codes and Google Docs today. It reminded me of why I like using Google Docs so much: it’s the ability to easily draw data from the web into a spreadsheet and then do interesting stuff with it. Google Spreadsheets can be used, for example, for importing website data or for archiving  your tweets or for interactive data visualisation. There are lots of great uses of the tool out there – just use your Google to find them!

    I hadn’t used the QR code chart type in Google Docs before (in fact, I had no idea it even existed!), so I gave Jill Thompson’s instructions a quick whirl. Unfortunately, and I am not sure why, the formula code on her blog did not work for me. I used the code I found at instead to generate my formula. Here is how it works:

    In your spreadsheet, put the URL of the website or text you wish to encode into a cell. Let’s say you use cell A2. Now paste the following into the cell where you would like your QR code to appear:  =image(“×150&cht=qr&chld=Q&chl=”&A2)

    Here is what the result looks like:


    Yes, it is probably quicker to use a tool like Kaywa or Unitag to generate a single disposable QR code, but if you wish to produce QR codes for a list of web links and/or text snippets and especially if you want to keep them for future reference, then this is probably one of the fastest ways of doing it.


    Turns out, the live web data look up function (i.e. GoogleLookup(entity, attribute) ) has been killed off by Google. It was a Labs feature. Thanks very much Google for pulling one of Doc’s best features! GoogleFinance(symbol, attribute) still seems to work though.

  • Impressions from Moodle Moot

    Posted on April 10th, 2012 admin No comments

    Worlde of tweets with hashtag #mootieuk12 and most Moodle words removedfound at

    Ok, so I am late with this post on this year’s Moodle Moot. I’ve had other stuff to do. Deal with it.

    What a fantastic Moot it was this year! Every table had power sockets; there were five or six different wifi APs to choose from; the presentations were useful; the atmosphere was friendly; the tweeting was plentiful; the venue was convenient, practical and pretty; lunch was lovely and the gala dinner even included a conga line. – What more could one possibly ask for?

    I had travelled to Dublin expecting to be one of a minority of 1.9 remaining Moodlers. What I found was that I was actually part of the majority crowd. A good few presentations dealt with the big move. The two main options appear to be: upgrade the 1.9 step by step 2.0>2.1 >2.2 or start with a 2.x and import course data by hand. Strategy two seems like the preferred option at the moment as it offers the chance to clear out redundant stuff, such as unused courses and old user accounts. This method also ensures that everyone who has a course on our Moodle is once again forced to review their courses and take ownership of their stuff. In any case, no matter whether we choose strategy one or two at BDC, it is clear that we have to accept that there will be some unavoidable carnage in the move from one version to the next. The extent of the carnage will largely depend on two Cs: cooperation and compliance.

    As for some of the bigger Moot highlights, there was much positive talk about the Book module which, after dumping it some years ago due to an upgrade fail, we might well be revisiting as a way of moving file content to the next Moodle version. – After all it’s just another handy way of packaging stuff.

    In her keynote Helen Foster talked about cats and ducks and teddy bears while taking us on a tour of the lesser visited parts of the MoodleVerse. On our travels we visited the QA Moodle test site, the important Moodle Tracker, and discovered the true meaning of MOOCH.

    The team from Synergy Learning presented many interesting plugins, including the uploadPDF assignment type which allows teachers to annotate PDF submissions without even leaving Moodle. Very handy! – I just wish I could figure out how the deployment of the required server software works. :-/

    I liked Michelle Moore’s list of “The Best Moodle Tools You’ve Never Used” a lot – I liked it not so much because I learnt a great deal, but because Michelle is such an energic presenter and we sing the same song: think creatively about the tools!

    There were lots of presentations that talked about user engagement, accessibility and usability improvements. I wish I had been able to attend Stuart Lamour‘s presentation on the Moodle interface revamp at Sussex Uni, and I am sad I didn’t get round to seeing the always inspiring Pieter van der Hijden this year. Unfortunately, there is only so much one can cram into two days.

    The one presentation that really caught my eye in a “oooh new shiny!” sort of way, was Gavin Henrick’s overview of IMS LTI (more about IMS LTI here), which I had never even heard of before. LTI seems like a box of magic that seamlessly connects Moodle with other platforms, such as WordPress, Drupal, Sakai and even Blackboard (if you must). There is a basic IMS LTI version for Moodle 1.9 that I will be having a more detailed look at as soon as I have published this post (such is my excitement!), but from my limited understanding IMS LTI really adds wings to Moodle from version 2 onwards.

    There are so many great moments, photos and conversations to share from this year’s Moot, it’s hard to convey it all in this post. I have done my best to capture the atmosphere of day 1 and day 2 on Storify (which I would embed here if Storify created embed codes that work with WordPress – grrr). And if all this isn’t enough Moot yet, you can always reach for @fboss ‘s monumental 208 page PDF of all the #mootieuk12 tweets!

    In summary:

    Just found a list of other blogs about #mootieuk12 –

  • “You know what our learners are like …”

    Posted on February 2nd, 2012 admin No comments

    That phrase annoys me no end because it is full of assumptions.

    I stumbled over this video via Edudemic (“What happens when you leave students alone?“)

    Sometimes I wonder what my teachers assumed about me back then …