In ProMonitor the Course is King

When I first switched from teaching to development one of my biggest dislikes was having to manually transfer feedback from my Moodle Assessments to the student records on ProMonitor, the E-ILP system used at BSDC.

I’m now looking at the possibility of developing an Advanced Grading Method for Moodle 2.2+ which can be driven by the markbook structure in ProMonitor. My hope is that I can present the tutor with a form which matches up to their gradebook in ProMonitor 100%; something which 9 other colleges in the UK have expressed an interest in!

Today I have been looking at how the grading method will be related to ProMonitor’s database. Initially I was quite optimistic that it would be easy to select a course, followed by a unit, and finally an assessment which you wanted to use for the grading structure. This is a simple workflow which makes sense, but unfortunately it doesn’t reflect the way that people use ProMonitor.

ProMonitor's Course Structure
ProMonitor’s Course Structure

For example, if you have an option of three routes on the second year of a BTEC programme, the probability is that each route will share a large number of units. In this case you will have three ProMonitor courses each containing the same unit.

Unfortunately ProMonitor’s approach to solving this is to allow tutors to clone assessment units in the database. In order to allow tweaks and changes to be made to one and not the other these clones are duplicated in the database with no common identifier shared between them. Even if there was a common identifier it would not be sensible to assume the structure was remained identical on each unit. In other words we have to accept that the unit within each course unique.

Assessment Clones
Assessment Clones

The easy solution is to make my new grading method refer to one “course” only and expect our Moodle users to create separate assessment activities for each path of the course where they might not have done before. This is not ideal but at least gives us a safe fallback position.

One option may be to write a method of finding duplicated assessment structures and “undoing” the duplication within the database. The worry with this is that an assessment structure may change after the grading method has been added to the assessment which would lead to problems when trying to¬†synchronise¬†with ProMonitor.

The better solution may be to alter my workflow allowing tutors to add multiple courses/unit/assessments to the grading method and then dynamically switching to the correct one for each student. However, this raises the prospect that a student may have more than one applicable assignment, in which case we would need to ask the tutor which they would like to grade. Alternatively the student might not be enrolled on any of the assessments, in which case we would have to present the tutor with an error message.

Fingers crossed I can come up with something that works well for everyone!