Sunday, December 30, 2012

Journal-like feature of the Wall - ensuring privacy of students' posts

I made this one before the New Year deadline. Notch up one more feature for the ever-versatile Wonderwall on the  checklist. I have added a "Moodle Journal"-like Wall feature. This means that there is added level of privacy for students. The Teacher can also ask questions and a student responds without the benefit of seeing/viewing other students' answers/responses. Works like the Moodle 1.9 Journal mod. Sort of.

Using the parameter in the iframe code,

the student only can see messages on the wall that were posted by himself or the Course Administrator. Works pretty much the same as Moodle 1.9's venerable Journal mod. In this manner, the student enjoys a degree of privacy. His or her wall posts are hidden from other student users. Of course the Course Administatrator can view and reply to all wall posts from all students.

Check it out on:
Username: studentscm   -or-  me
Password: studentscm   -or-  me

Attached PNG screenshots hopefullly are self-explanatory.

The Wall with the parameter : &Journal=0
Everyone sees everyone's posts

Summary: now the Wall has Journal feature which hides other students' posts from any student user. The student user only sees Wall updates from himself/herself/Course Administrator/Teacher. Student now enjoys a level of privacy. The teacher can remove  the &Journal=1 parameter, or change it to &Journal=0 to revert the Wall to all-see-all content type of default wall.

What do you think of this feature?

Frankie Kam

P.S., Move your mouse cursor over the grayed-out avatar user account pic to see a nice effect.

Gamification and the Moodle Wonderwall.

I figured out the how to include sentence statistics and have added in a gamification element/dimension to the Wall. It's getting more interesting.

I. Giving feedback with word statistics for a Wall post. 
I thought that it might be useful if the number of words, sentences per post and the average words per sentences might be useful information to be shown after each Wall post.

Try this out:
Username: studentscm
Password: studentscm

My iframe embed code is:

<iframe width="90%" scrolling="auto" height="700px" frameborder="0" align="middle" name="Embedded Frame" src="" marginheight="4px" marginwidth="4px"></iframe>

The interpretation is this: the teacher has told the class that his/her expectation is that every post to the wall must meet a minimum number of 10 words, and must have a minimum number of 3 sentences. Those posts to the Wall that meet these two criteria will be rewarded with an icon each (gamification element here).

 The student is awarded this stamp  If he or she
meets the minimum words per sentence average.

The student is awarded this stamp  If he or she 
meets the minimum number of sentences in the post.

Check it out. I've done it. That's a whole new element to the Wall. Lots of possibilities to create visual cues to the teacher as to who did what and who didn't achieve what. And lots of possibilities for students to be rewarded with stamps and icons and stuff for meeting the teacher's requirements/expectations.

II. Adding a Readability Score to a Wall post.
Every heard of the Flesch-Kincard Readbility score?

I also surfed over to these sites:
and implemented the Flesch-Kincaid Readability score test on the Wall.

(The website uses the PHP code available from specifically from this download link:
So anyway, the readability scores translate as follows:

Flesch Reading Ease ScoreFlesch-Kincaid Grade LevelTypical ageStyle description
Elementary School *
Middle school *
90 to 100510-11very easy
80 to 90611-12easy
70 to 80712-13fairly easy
60 to 70813-14standard
High school *
60 to 70914-15standard
50 to 601015-16fairly difficult
50 to 601116-17fairly difficult
50 to 601217-18fairly difficult
Post-secondary education (College or University) *
30 to 401318-19difficult
30 to 401419-20difficult
30 to 401520-21difficult
30 to 401621-22difficult
Graduate education *
0 to 3022+very difficult
*) Education in the United States. 


Here's a simplified scale of the scores.
   if($n >= 90) return "Very easy";
   else if($n >= 80) return "Easy";
   else if($n >= 70) return "Fairly easy";
   else if($n >= 60) return "Standard";
   else if($n >= 50) return "Fairly difficult";
   else if($n >= 30) return "Difficult";
   else return "Very confusing";

I dumbed it down a bit, since I only have five icons (see attached gifs!), to this
slightly simplified structure:
   80-100 : Very Easy 
   70-89 : Easy  
   50-69 : Standard 
   20-49 : Difficult 
   0-19  : Very Difficult 

I programmed the PHP function from the github link into message_ajax.php of the Wall and you can take a look at the screenshot after a typical post. Mouseover your mouse cursor onto the icons and you have a nice popup text description.

So now, you have not only a numeric Readability score, you also have a set of visual colourful icons to indicate the level of readability of the student's wall post.

BTW, I tried the following speeches on the Wall, and here are the results:
Obama's speech at the memorial wake in Newtown, Connecticut = high 90s
Queen Elisabeth I's speech = low 40s
So the Flesch-Kincaid readability algorithm does seem to work fine.

The php code from the github link also allows me to program these readability scores functionality into the Wall:

          * Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease
          * Flesch Kincaid Grade Level
          * Gunning Fog Score
          * Coleman Liau Index
          * SMOG Index
          * Automated Reability Index

        The same code also can give:
          * String length
          * Letter count
          * Syllable count
          * Sentence count
          * Average words per sentence
          * Average syllables per word

Summary: I've added in visual cues to a student's post so that both the teacher and student will know if the post meets the teacher's expectations. In addition, a readability score is added to the post.

I'm sure that the Gamified Wall can be useful in language classes where feedback is important.

Frankie Kam

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