The #Microsoft #Office Add-in for Moodle, a closer look at the tool installed

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The new Office Add-in for Moodle (OAM) from Microsoft is a great little tool for managing and maintaining the Microsoft Office files and file directory in your Moodle course.  Let’s take a look at the new Add-in and how it works for Moodlers.

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First it should be understood that the Add-in requires installation of the .exe file to a computer that has either Office 2003 or 2007 installed.  After it’s been downloaded and installed new options are available on the main “Office Button”.

The two options are:

1. Open From Moodle…
2. Save to Moodle…

Which do exactly their respective titles.  Either option will prompt you to enter your login credentials and the URL of a Moodle where you a) have an active teacher role and b) are listed as an editing teacher to a course on that site.  Once added, that Moodle will be available thereafter (though you may opt not to save your login and password).

It’s important to note that you can connect to more than Moodle installation.  Here’s a screen shot of adding your login credentials:

Once added the Moodle will display like this:

It’s easy to add new folders at this point (much faster than using the Moodle file structure interface).

Once you have access to a folder you can simply open Office files and save them to your Moodle, or open Office files saved to your Moodle to edit them.  Teachers might find this particularly useful if they are updating files on the go in a directory displayed to students.  Here’s a side by side of the file directory I created in Moodle and the file saved to it from Microsoft Word (as shown in Word and Moodle).

Here’s a quick recap of what I learned from installation and use:

  • You can’t be a general administrator on the site and still connect to a course (the Add-in pulls information from the course block and Administrators see the categories in lieu of courses).
  • You can easily create folders on the system.
  • If you are uploading multiple files there’s no huge value add (you’d have to open each and save as, etc.).
  • Great value in editing files that have already been uploaded to a course.
  • The Add-in seems to have trouble accessing a Moodle if it’s setup as http://www.yourdomain.com/moodle but subdomains seem not to encounter the same issue.
  • Could provide a quick and easy file repository if students were given their own course to push/pull files from (no need for USB thumb drives), and it could be comparable to a Google Docs integration if all computers had the Add-in installed.

It’s unfortunate that student accounts don’t have any functionality with this yet.  But you could imagine a huge value if students could upload their assignments directly to Moodle from Word, PowerPoint or Excel.  If you think that feature, or any other enhancement would be great, join the discussion at: http://goo.gl/dmee.

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