Moodle Database and upcoming Assignments etc.

Kate one of our Technology Enhanced Learning Advisors (TERA) asked if I could provide her with details of how many staff in her faculty are using quizzes, Moodle and Turnitin assignments in this academic year. We do not have any reports to hand I do have access to a copy of the Moodle database. Of course, where there is a MySQL server and a Moodle database I should be able to provide Kate with the details she needs to support her academic colleagues.

Thanks to the work of Prof Mark Stubbs and the EQAL team modelling how units and courses are represented in the University, and ensuring a consistent naming structure; our Moodle Short name contains all the information I need to be able to construct SQL select statements.

Our Moodle shortname has the following structure


So for example, a unit code may be 399Z9999_1415_9Z3F and as our unit codes are mapped to the faculty by the first letter of the unit code (in most instances, we do have one department that has moved Faculties and it breaks this simple rule)
Using our example shortname we can construct a select statement using like to return only those shortnames that belong to the faculty in question and for the year 1415

The example below returns Moodle assignments ordered by the date the assignment is due
Database. Is used below as the name of the Moodle database

SELECT database_course.shortname, database_course.fullname, database_assign.course, database_assign.intro, from_unixtime(database_assign.duedate) as datedue,
FROM database_assign, database_course
where database_course.shortname like ‘%1415%’ and
order by datedue limit 0,10000;

The select statement is almost identical for quizzes

SELECT database_course.shortname, database_course.fullname ,database_quiz.course, database_quiz.intro, from_unixtime(database_quiz.timeopen) as quiztime,
FROM database_quiz, database_course where database_course.shortname like ‘3%1415%’ and
order by quiztime limit 0, 5000;

Turnitin is more of an issue , Turnitin assignments can have one or more parts, to allow for this as well as having the turnitintool table there is a turnitintool_parts table. Each assignment part may have their own due date which may be different from the due date in the main turnitintool table. If there is only one part the SQL is very familiar with the addition of checking of the number of parts.

SELECT database_course.shortname, database_course.fullname ,database_turnitintool.course,, from_unixtime(database_turnitintool.defaultdtdue) as duedate ,
FROM mmu01moodle.database_turnitintool, database_course where database_course.shortname like ‘3%1415%’ and and numparts=1
order by duedate limit 0, 5000;

A Day at MMU Usability Labs

A first look at LRT’s experience of using the services of to analyse how students use My MMU and Moodle.

I was most impressed with the lab and team from the School of Computing; they did everything they could to make the best possible use of the time available and offered constant support in our attempts to understand the behaviour of the student volunteers navigating the web sites.
I should emphasise that is just my subjective view on how students used My MMU and Moodle and in the next few weeks as we analyse the data collected from the eye tracking software, the video and the post task evaluation questionnaires a more objective model of behaviour will be built up.

The first notable finding was the sample of 10 students split into two groups, one at home with My MMU and a second smaller group who encountered a number of difficulties navigating the two systems. It will be interesting to look at the post task questionnaires and see if there is a relationship between the use of the portal and the ease of navigation. This will raise many questions on design style including do you design for the first time user, the experienced user or can you design so that it works for both?
The group who were more at ease with the My MMU and Moodle as you would expect did not have a uniform way of navigating the two sites but did so in a manner that made sense to them.

Common traits.
Strong use of the Left hand navigation, all the students made use of it, but one worrying point was their use of the right hand block in Moodle was less prominent.

A number of the students made no use of the Top Tab navigation within My MMU from a subjective viewpoint it was if they did not see the links at all, the heat map produced by the software used in the lab will be able to confirm this.

One of the tasks we asked the students to perform was to check on the status of the book loans from the library and we had a three way split,

  • Those not happy in using My MMU Googled for MMU and followed the links to the Library and logged into the library system from there
  • Of the reminder some used the icon bar in the email and more web part while others used the top level tab navigation to go to the my library page

Some confusion over the naming convention of my accounts and my finance pages.

One interesting comment from one student was that they do not explore the various tabs within My MMU and unless they are told the benefits its likely they will never see and use the features available to them

It was a very good day, and I am looking forward to seeing if the heat maps etc. show


MY MMU usage over the Christmas Holidays 2010

Graph Showing usage over Christmas 2010

As you can see My MMU was continued to be used over the Christmas break, this year we had 1095 unique users on Christmas day an increase of 188 on last year. Comparing this year’s Christmas break with last years the portal usage increased on average by 28%. Last Year December 29th was the most popular with 2424 users, this year January 2nd had 3301 users.

Campus M Phone based information for students

For the last few weeks the LRT team, Business Improvement and the Marketing team have been working with the makers of CampusM to produce a version of the mobile web site for MMU. We now have a beta Iphone app and a beta wap site that allows students to see
This will allow MMU to send alerts about major disruptions
Staff Directory
This allows users to search the staff directory for telephone numbers and email address
Maps and photos of MMU locations, can use Google maps to guide you to the location
Tells you what books you have out, reservations and fines outstanding
News & events
RSS feed of MMU news
Pocket Guide
A link to MMU information for MMU students both new and returning
My Course
Shows the Students what units they are enrolled on

You can look at the beta on your mobile on and we would love your comments

My MMU Re-branding

For the last few weeks we have looking at a re-branding exercise for the My MMU portal. The current design is a standard Sharepoint web part site that while the students say the like the content but hate the design
So we set up a working party with representatives from
New Media and marketing
Students Union
And of course the LRT team
We asked 5 companies to take part in the process and after looking at their suggested designs we asked Novtronix Ltd to design our new site. You can find them at
After an initial meeting they offered their first take on the design, if was apparent that we are content driven and Novtronix are less so. After sending them our comments including a mock up Sharepoint site Novotronix have come up with the goods. A Strong but simple visual design allied with our contentFor a quick preview on how it will look have a look the jpeg

Home page

Sql Inserting Multiple rows into a Table

After spending hours trying to work out why the sql bulk insert command refused to work. (it always claimed it could not open the file but the permission sets looked fine) I found Pinalkumar Dave’s blog at and the example code worked wonderfully for me. So I had to do was to edit the data file, but a few change and replaces are better the inserting the values n times

A quick example

Insert into usage (Forename,Surname,Town)
Select ‘Fred’,’Smith’,’Manchester’
union all
Select ‘Bob’,’Jones’,’Wigan’
union all
Select ‘Anna,’Bell’,Stockport’’

So thank you again Pinal Dave

MMU Business School Learning & Teaching Day

MMU Business School Learning & Teaching Day

Thursday 27th of May was the third Learning & Teaching day held at MMUBS. Like its two predecessors it was thought provoking and offered insights into excellent practice in the University. This year it had a different structure including a very enjoyable debate, but more of that later.

The day kicked off with Dr Alan Fielding from Science and Engineering showing how in Biology the drivers for success in the NSS Student Survey were not those you would expect. Feedback and prompt return of assignments had little or no effect on the final rating but the most important one was question “The course is well organised and is running smoothly.” This echoed with findings from Dr Kathrynn Kinmound from MMU Cheshire who presented later in day a longitudinal survey of students doing Joint honours whose main areas of concern are non-academic matters. Defiantly food for thought.

The Debate “All Undergraduate units should be intellectually stimulating” was stimulating with Richard Warren given an impassioned presentation why they should be and Brian Leigh giving an equally impassioned one why it is not always necessary.

One quote from each to give a flavour

Richard “Would you make a weekly appointment to be bored, I know I wouldn’t so why should we expect the students”

Brian “The Golden Rule of Accounting the Sum of credits must equal the sum of debits”

Brain and Jane Tonge made excellent arguments why Business wants and needs people who can do and not just those who can theorise. While Richard and Liz Walley argued the case for thought, action without thought is dangerous.

The motion was carried when it was put to the attendees. From my prospective a mixture of both is needed.

The keynote speaker was Professor Katryan Ecclestone from Birmingham University who talked about “On intellectually stimulating teaching/courses” The stand out issue for me was the changing demand of students and how to align staff and student expectations.

Lunch and time to network, it was good to touch base with my ex colleagues and catch up with the gossip.

After Lunch was Kathryn from MMU Cheshire, as I have mentioned a number of staff at Cheshire are involved in running a longitudinal survey on student expectations and experience of a number of joint honours students. They surveyed the student in the first week, later in the year and at the end of the academic year. The first survey in induction week confirmed that we do over burden students with information in the first week and tend to over timetable them. The student’s worries again are what we would expect “Will I fit in”, “Will I be able to cope” expectations are for hard work, good social life and to make friends. When the students where revisited later in the year money has raised its ugly head, the need for some students to juggle the need to work with being a student. As the students were surveyed again the non-academic issues came to the fore, car parking etc. An interesting point was the students valued highly the cleaning staff in halls, not only kept the place clean they acted as un-official counselling service

Now we came to “I’ve tried this and it works” part of the day it was kicked off with Jackie Brander-Brown who talk was entitled “Actively Embedding Commercial Awareness into the Curriculum” an excellent presentation on the need for students to be able to communicate about Business issues, the students really liked this approach and ran with it. They produced differing media mediums but all addressed the central issues well. Please contact Jackie for more details

Next was Angela Hall with ”Sex, drugs and the ASA” again an excellent talk highlighting the need to keep up to date in the advertising industry and how students gained from this approach of reserving 15 minutes from the lectures to talk about trends in the industry.

I came next I think I will skip this bit and move on to Angel Salazar talk on the “Innovation in Plain English” and how staff should spend time working on the prose style for more effective communication. And as a by-product they may write a novel! And finally in this section Jeff McCarthy give a an excellent talk about using Google groups to foster group work and promote team work Jeff give some excellent examples and the students took part with a very positive aptitude.

Next up was Dr Dominic Medway from MBS who give a compare and contrast talk of the two Business Schools. Lots of ideas we can use and it was good to see Dominic had implemented ways of doing things that were second nature to him when he was at MMUBS. Sometimes I think we believe other places always do things better than we do.

The final part of the day was Robert Ready, he give an excellent summary of the day and offered a next approach to each speaker which was thought provoking.

All in all an excellent day and thank you to John, Linda, Nick, Robin and Ruth

Who Uses The MyMMU Portal

Over the weekend I had a quick look at our user base and see who uses the portal the most.

Of our top five users the gender split was 3 females and 2 males and we have 4 undergrads and one postgrad. With the undergrads having one first year, two second years and one year three.

Our Top 5 are

Combined Honours Biology/Forensic Science year 3 66 pages a day

Leisure Management year 1 54 pages a day

International fashion management year 2 52 pages a day

Criminology year 2 51 pages a day

Msc Biomedical Science 43 pages a day

It would be interesting to see if there is a link with use and sucuess