Have you experimented with the Moodle Glossary activity?

A glossary is often used as a static list of important terms and concepts.

Glossary terms are defined by the teacher and presented for students to read and use as a reference. While this approach can be useful the Moodle glossary can be much more dynamic, providing a positive and active learning experience and opportunities for collaboration.

The Moodle glossary is an (interactive!) activity rather than a (passive!) resource so encourages student participation. A glossary entry has two primary components – a concept and it’s definition. Settings allow these to be displayed in a variety of ways, such as simple dictionary style, encyclopaedia style, FAQ and list styles.

Entries can have attachments and can include images, audio and video. They can be searched or browsed in many different formats and be configured to allow comments and/or ratings.  Entries can also make use of Moodle’s “auto-linking” feature.

The Random Glossary block can be configured to a glossary and will display one random entry each time the page with the block is refreshed or visited. This could prompt students to follow up on a term or concept they may not know well. Student work can be made more visible to the class, helping ensure entries are of a high quality – particularly when they know it may appear on the front page of the course!

Some examples of ways that the Glossary tool has been include

  • Bibliographic Details – this is great for auditing and for future reference.

  • Book Reviews – create an entry with an image of the book cover and a review of useful books.

  • Class Introductions – as an alternative to a forum students add an entry about themselves with an image. The Random Glossary block will showcases a different student on the course page each visit.

  • Collaborative Content Creation – assign terms or concepts to each student and ask them to contribute the definition to a glossary. Encourage the addition of others they encounter and engagement with comments and rating.

  • FAQs – this can be built up over several occurrences of a course and provides a useful “self-help‟ resource for students.

  • Language Learning – define a word or phrase in the native language using the “Term‟ and translate it using the “Definition‟ (or vice versa). Ask students to define entries for words or phrases they struggled with and encourage them to include an audio file with the correct pronunciation.

  • Presenting Content – create entries with the content to be delivered (text, documents,video or audio) then take advantage of the auto-linking to present your content in an alternative way. Have a list of the required concepts within a webpage, text field or forum post and use the auto-linking. A popup window appears displaying the glossary entry and content when the student clicks the concept.

  • Previous Exam Questions – publish previous exam questions for your students to ponder. Ensure you refer to the appropriate section of the course for further information on each question.

  • Quiz Questions – why not save development time and ask your students to create glossary entries of possible test questions relating to concepts or ideas they are unfamiliar with. This is a great way to collect information to be used for quizzes and to get an idea of what areas your students are struggling with. You can be sure they’ll participate if they know the questions will be in the test!

  • Revision Activity – ask students to create entries after a lecture or tutorial to create a useful study aid and a framework for further discussion. This also indicates what the students picked up in the lecture and allows you to check their understanding.

  • Shared Resources or Articles – ask students to create an entry for any books, websites or articles they find during the paper that have been useful to them including why the resource has been useful.

Consider the various glossary settings when students are asked to contribute when using the glossary.

  • Ensure you allow duplicate entries where required, for example when you provide a list of terms to be defined and expect more than one person to add the definition.

  • Allow comments and ratings so other students can contribute.

  • You may want entries to be approved before they are published to the other class members. Consider providing this access to a student moderator.

  • Allowing entries to always be editable allows the contributor the opportunity to refine their concept definition after the default 30 minutes.

Happy experimenting!  Let us know how you get on or other ways you or someone you know has used the glossary.

Latest posts by Teresa Gibbison (see all)

Teresa Gibbison

During the past 6 years I have been a Moodle Administrator at The University of Waikato and Waikato Institute of Technology, and working as an e-learning consultant with HRDNZ for 3 years. I'm very proud to be a PHM (Particularly Helpful Moodler) as rated by the community of Moodle.org, and I hold the official MCCC (Moodle Course Creator Certificate). I've helped organise the Moodle Moot in New Zealand twice, and I'm an ambassador for the international online iMoot conference.

One thought on “Have you experimented with the Moodle Glossary activity?

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    29th June 2016 at 10:20 pm

    Glossaries are one of my favorite Moodle tools. As you have shown, there are so many uses for them and they are so easy to set up! Thanks.


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