#Moodle Tip - Mentoring Students with AutoCreate Groups and/or Learning Diary

With a large influx of new teachers, I want to quickly setup a mentor/mentee environment using Moodle. This would enable me to assign 1 mentor to one or more teachers. Each mentor would only be able to see their mentee(s) content/comments but no one else's.  I'm not sure how to best setup Moodle to accomplish that.
At a recent MoodleMoot, I encouraged participants in my sessions to tap into their Twitter network for real time advice. I decided to follow my own advice again and sent out a tweet for help.

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There are a variety of possible solutions, but the only one that seemed workable involved a LOT of work. Or at least, I thought it did. Thanks to feedback via Twitter from Gavin Henrick in Ireland--responding to my request in minutes

So, to break it down, Gavin offers two solutions--a) Student Diary Pro and b) Forums in Groups Size 1 Mode.

Before I discuss his suggestion, here is the one I considered first:

Possible Solution #1 - Learning Diary
Learning Diary - This module is used to combine the many Reflections into one ongoing diary, a much more efficient and appealing approach for adults. There are so many individual activities in each section that the list appeared exhaustive. It's a 3rd Party Mod not hosted on Moodle.org. 
Get it online at http://julmis.julmajanne.com/index.php/Learningdiary
This type of solution will work neatly to facilitate interactions. Of course, you can easily embed audio and/or video components to make it all the more interactive.

Here is one exchange between mentor and mentee:

Here's what it looks like from the mentor's perspective:

Of course, the mentor isn't limited to just this view...if they are mentoring more than one student, they can see even more students:

And, of course, either the Mentor of Mentee can embed outside content (e.g. video, audio, and more):

Now the only problem I see--and there may be more I don't--is that the Teacher/Mentor role enables the mentor to have access to ALL students. I would only want the Mentor to be associated with 1 or 2 students, if that. That means that each Teacher/Mentor would have their own Moodle course to manage the dialogue. WAY TOO MUCH work.

As such, I'm not sure the Learning Diary solution works unless I can allow Student/Mentee roles within the context of Separate (Force:Yes) Groups. The problem is, though, how do I assign different rights to Mentors vs Mentees? I suppose the only possibility would be to create new roles in Moodle that specifically allow mentors more rights...but I couldn't find how to do that for the Learning Diary module.

So, as I understand it, the Learning Diary would only solve my problem if the following were true:

  • Each teacher/mentor had their own Moodle course that housed the mentees they were responsible for.
That's one possible solution, albeit cumbersome when dealing with hundreds of people.

Possible Solution #2 - Groups of 1 for Forum Creation
This is a solution Gavin suggested, although as I write this blog entry, I haven't tried it (I'm going to in a moment and we'll find out together if it works).

To follow Gavin's suggestion, within a course, I went to Administration, chose Groups, then Auto-Create Groups, as illustrated below:

The next step looks like this:

I went ahead and indicated that I wanted it to create the groups with one person in it:

And this ends up looking like this for my one Group member:

Unfortunately, I'm not altogether sure that this solution will work any better. For while I can have students separate in their own respective groups, I can't separate multiple teacher-mentors from each other. If you are a teacher-mentor, you will have access to ALL groups and be privy to all conversations between mentors and mentees.


So this solution has the same condition as the Learning Diary solution discussed earlier:

  • Each teacher/mentor had their own Moodle course that housed the mentees they were responsible for.

Possible Solution #3 - Student Diary Pro
This is a solution I don't know anything about and will have to check with Gavin or others. 

Now that you see the challenge, is it possible to accomplish this in Moodle? (don't even mention Elgg or BuddyPress!!).

Possible Solution #4 - Mentee Block
I've read this one but I'm not sure I understand how to set it up. I'll have to watch this YouTube video to get a better feel for it:

YouTube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-49YrtjMTTo

The mentees block does not become visible until individual “mentors” have been assigned a role that enables them to mentor other users who become their "mentees" (e.g., a parent mentoring a child, or a tutor mentoring a student). To assign a mentor to a mentee, the mentor must first be assigned a role that allows that mentor permission to view relevant user information (moodle/user:viewdetails set to allow). After having been assigned a role that grants viewing permission, the mentor’s role must then be assigned to the mentee/user whose information they wish to view.
Mentor users logging on to the site will then be presented with a mentees block containing names and links to information about the individual users the mentor has been granted authorization to view. (Source)
More on the Mentee:

And here is a relevant excerpt from Packt Publishing by Alex Buchner on the subject of Mentees:


Parent or Mentor Role

One of the most popular and sought after custom roles in Moodle is the one of a parent, guardian, or mentor. The idea is to grant permission to users to view certain profile information, such as activity reports, grades, blog entries, and forum posts of their children, guardees, or mentees. This can be achieved with the creation of a new role. Furthermore, the specially-introduced Mentees block has to be placed on the front page to give users, who have been assigned the role, access the user context.
  1. Create new role:
    1. Go to Users | Permissions | Define roles in the Site Administration block
    2. Add a new role and name it Parent or Mentor. Provide an appropriate short name and a description.
    3. Leave the Legacy role type set to None
    4. Change the capability moodle/user:viewdetails to Allow. This grants access to the user profile page.
    5. Change the following capabilities in the User section to Allow, which grants access to individual tabs on the user profile page:
      • moodle/user:readuserposts: To read the child's forum posts
      • moodle/user:readuserblogs: To read the child's blog entries
      • moodle/user:viewuseractivitiesreport: To view the child's activity reports and grades
  2. Create user account for parent:
    Each parent requires a separate user account (Go to Users | Add a new user in the Site Administration and add details for the parent or use Moodle's bulk upload facility). In our example, the father is called Roy Harris and his children are called Frank Harris and Paul Harris:
  3. Link parent to pupil:
    Each parent has to be linked to each child. Unlike the creation of users, this process cannot be automated via batch files and is a potentially time-consuming process
    1. Access the first child's profile page and click on the Roles tab (Frank Harris).
    2. Choose Parent as the role to assign
    3. Select the parent (Roy Harris) in the potential users list and add it to the existing users list.
    4. Repeat the steps (a) to (c) for the second child, Paul Harris
  4. Add mentee block:
    1. Go to your front page and turn on editing.
    2. Add the Mentees block to the front page (it can also be added as a sticky block in My Moodle) and change its title via the configuration icon to Parent Access.
    3. Log in as Roy Harris and you should see the following block:

  5. A special Mentees block has been introduced to facilitate access to user information.
When selecting a name, the respective user profile will be shown, which includes any posts sent to forums, blog entries and activity reports, including logs and grades

Ah well, I'll have to reflect on Solution #3 some more and how it might work in my situation!

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