Better Choices with the Fair Allocation Module

Most Moodle users will be familiar with the Choice activity. If you just want a simple question where students’ second choices aren’t so important (e.g., "Which topic would you like me to revise: bifurcated counterfactuals or relativistic schemata?"), Choice is fine, but consider the following scenarios:

  • you want to assign topics for groups to present;
  • you want students to choose from a long list of term paper topics and have no duplicates in the same class;
  • you want to select a suitable day for a makeup lesson;
  • you want students to choose a work placement / internship.

In these cases, you could use Choice, but its first-come-first-served approach could result in some pretty unhappy students. This is where the Fair Allocation plugin works much better.

The activity’s Rating Strategy menu determines how students can respond. This can be Accept-Deny, Accept-Neutral-Deny (possibly the most useful), a Likert scale (e.g., 1-5), allocating a set number of points, or simply ticking the boxes for the acceptable choices.

The Strategy specific options section will be different according to your choice of rating strategy. For example, if you go with Accept-Neutral-Deny, you get to pick the maximum number of "denies" a student is allowed (otherwise, they could just accept one and deny all the others), set the default value, and, if you like, create alternative descriptions for the values.

After setting up these options and adding dates for starting and ending rating and for publishing the results, you can add the choices. Once the date for starting rating has arrived, students will see something like this:

Once the rating period has ended, you can run the algorithm to assign students to choices. You can also assign choices manually, which overrides the algorithm. Note that the algorithm doesn’t operate on students who have not done the activity, so you will need to assign them manually if you want them to be assigned at all.

Once the algorithm has been run, you can publish the results so students will see their allocations. |You can also see a report and export it in various formats.

To sum up, Fair Allocation takes a bit more work than Choice, but it is worth it if having students assigned to groups or activies in the way that suits them best is important.

Robin Turner

Until recently, EAP instructor and Moodle systems administrator at Bilkent University, Ankara, now Learning Technologist at the Global Banking School's London Greenford campus. Interested in educational technology and gamification/game-based learning.

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