Add a Glossary

A Glossary activity is a database of terms and definitions that are usually compiled by members of your course. There are many format types that the instructor may choose to create.

Make sure you read the instructors directions carefully on how they wish you to format your entries. This could be a collaborative and/or assessment activity, depending on how the instructor designs it.

The entries can be searched or browsed in different formats. A glossary can be a collaborative activity or be restricted to entries made by the instructor. Entries can be put in categories. The auto-linking feature will highlight any word in the course which is located in the glossary.

Why use a Glossary?

While a basic glossary is important, creatively applying the glossary can really make an impact on your class.

Collaborative glossaries

Instead of creating a glossary on your own, why not have the students create them as they encounter unfamiliar terms? A collaborative glossary can serve as a focal point for collaboration in a course. Each member of the class could be assigned to contribute a term, a definition, or comments on submitted definitions. Multiple definitions can be rated by you and by the students, with the highest-rated definitions accepted for the final class glossary.

When students are responsible for creating the definitions, they are much more likely to remember the word and the correct definition. Engaging in the process of learning, debating, and refining a glossary can go a long way toward helping students begin using new terms.

You can also structure multiple glossaries over the course of a semester. Break them up by unit, chapter, week, or any other organizational structure.

If you have a large class, assign student teams to come up with definitions and answers. One strategy for managing large courses is to make each team responsible for one week’s worth of definitions, while all the other teams must rate and comment. Alternatively, each team could be responsible for one definition per chapter and then rate and comment on the other teams’ work.

Credit for word use

This is a combination strategy using the forum and the auto-linking feature of the glossary. After you and your students have defined the glossary terms, it’s important for students to begin practising using the words in realistic contexts. Students, however, are usually reluctant to experiment with new terms. With the auto-linking feature, it’s easy to spot when a glossary word has been used in a forum or in a posting on the web site. To encourage word use, assign a portion of the credit students receive for their forum postings for correct use of glossary terms. As you or other students rate posts, you can quickly scan for highlighted glossary words and award points for usage. You may even want to break the score down further. Perhaps award one point for using the word and two points for using it correctly.

"Getting to know you"

Make a glossary into which new students add their photo and personal details.Add this glossary to the Random glossary block on the side of your course page and - at intervals you choose- details about a different new student are highlighted.

Thought for the Day

In addition to adding vocabulary and key terms glossaries to the Random glossary block why not add a glossary containing pertinent "thoughts for the day", ethical, spiritual, motivational -you decide!

Simple peer assessment

Have students add pieces of work with descriptions to a glossary and allow their classmates to comment on each others' entries to create a basic framework for peer assessment. While this can be done in a Forum or more thoroughly in a Workshop, a glossary is a fast and effective solution.

Adding a glossary

To add a glossary:

    1. With the editing turned on,in the section you wish to add your glossary, click the "Add an activity or resource" link (or, if not present, the "Add an activity" drop down menu )and choose Glossary.
    2. On the Adding a new glossary page, give your new glossary a descriptive name.
    3. Describe the purpose of the glossary, provide instructions or background information, links etc. in the Description area.
    4. Select the general and grade options and the common module settings (see below).
    5. Click the "Save changes" button at the bottom of the page.

Administration settings

Entries shown per page

This sets the number of words and definitions that students will see when they view the glossary list. If you have a large number of automatically-linked entries you should set this number lower to prevent long loading times.

Is this glossary global?

Administrators can make a global glossary, with entries linking throughout the whole Moodle site. Any course may contain a global glossary, though the best practice is to place a global glossary on the site front page.

Glossary type

Here you can decide whether the glossary will be main or secondary. The glossary system allows you to export entries from any secondary glossary to the main one of the course. In order to do this, you should specify which glossary is the main one. You can only have one main glossary per course.

Duplicated entries allowed

This allows the entry of more than one definition for a given word.

Allow comments on entries

Students and instructors can leave comments on glossary definitions. The comments are available through a link at the bottom of the definition.

Allow print view

This provides a printer-friendly version link for students. (instructors are always provided with a printer-friendly version link.)

Automatically link glossary entries

If the Glossary auto-linking filter is enabled by an administrator (see Filters for further details), then turning this on allows individual entries in this glossary to be automatically linked whenever the concept words and phrases appear throughout the rest of the same course. This includes forum postings, internal resources, week summaries and so on.

Note: Enabling linking for the glossary does not automatically turn on linking for each entry - linking needs to be set for each entry individually. If you do not want particular text to be linked (in a forum posting, say) then you should add <nolink> and </nolink> tags around the text. Note that category names are also linked.

This entry is case sensitive

This setting specifies whether matching exact upper and lower case is necessary when performing automatic linking to these entries. For example, if this is turned on, then a word like "html" in a forum posting will NOT be linked to a glossary entry called "HTML".

Match whole words only

If automatic linking is enabled, then turning this setting on will force only whole words to be linked. For example, a glossary entry named "construct" will not create a link inside the word "constructivism".

Approved by default

That allows the instructor to define what happens to new entries added by students. They can be automatically made available to everyone, otherwise the instructor will have to approve each one.

Display format

That specifies the way that each entry will be shown within the glossary. The default formats are:

  • Simple, dictionary style - This looks like a conventional dictionary with separate entries. No authors are displayed and attachments are shown as links.
  • Continuous without author - Like the simple style. Shows the entries one after other without any kind of separation but the editing icons if your theme supports it.
  • Full with author - A forum-like display format showing author's data. Attachments are shown as links.
  • Full without author - A forum-like display format that does not show author's data. Attachments are shown as links.
  • Encyclopedia - Like 'Full with author' but attached images are shown inline.
  • Entry list - This lists the concepts as links.
  • FAQ - Useful for displaying lists of frequently asked questions. It automatically appends the words QUESTION and ANSWER in the concept and definition respectively.

The table below summarises the different display formats.

Format Entry Author Date Definition Images Attachments
Entry list x - - x x link
Simple Dictionary x - - x x link
Continuous x - - x x link
FAQ x - x x x link
Full without Author x - x x x link
Full with Author x x x x x link
Encyclopedia x x x x x x*

* Attached images are shown inline.

Approval display format

It is possible to set an alternative display format for when entries are approved that can differ from the display format on the course page. This could be useful for instance if a tutor wants to see who made a particular glossary entry before approving it but doesn't want the students' name to be displayed for others on the course page.

Adding an Entry

      1. Select the glossary title in the course centre block area. The Glossary screen opens showing a Search box, and  may  show a row of tabs (Browse by alphabet, Browse by category, Browse by date, and Browse by author), from which you can search for entries.
      2. Click Add a new entry. A screen will load where you can add a new entry.
      3. Type the term title (short entry) in the Concept box, and your longer entry in the Definition box. If enabled, you can also include pictures and attachments by clicking the Add button next to Attachments).
      4. Click Save changes to add your entry.
      5. You can edit entries you have created by clicking the update icon.

Glossaries are often set up not to allow repeat entries, so you may want to search for the concept you intend to add before you try to add it. If try to enter a concept that already exists, you will see a warning (at top): No duplicates allowed in this glossary.

Commenting on Entries

If enabled, students are able to comment on entries. This is easily done by selecting 'Comment' within the entry.

In addition, a student’s glossary entry can be graded, and rated by other students. These settings and their uses are entirely up to the instructor.

Editing glossary entries/Adding categories

Categories may be created to help organize your glossary entries. If you've enabled autolinking, the category names can be linked along with individual entries.

To create a glossary category:

  1. Click the "Browse by category" tab in the main page of the glossary.
  2. Click the "Edit categories" button on the left side of the page.
  3. Click the "Add category" button on the resulting Categories page.
  4. Give the category a name.
  5. Choose whether you want the category name autolinked as well.
  6. Click the "Save changes" button.

If you autolink the category name, any occurrence of those words will be linked. When a student clicks on the link, they will be taken to the "Browse by category" page of the glossary.

Browse options

You can browse glossaries according to the following options:

    • Browse by alphabet
    • Browse by category (if there are any categories added)
    • Browse by date (you can sort entries by last update or by creation date)
    • Browse by author

Search options

You can also search for a given word using the Search field. Checking the 'Search full text' option (on the right side of the Search box) allows searching for a given word in any position in the text. This can take longer and return more entries than you might wish, but it is thorough. If you do not check the "Search full text" box, the search only looks for the term names. The index below lets you browse the glossary according to a given letter.

Waiting approval

If entries require teacher approval before being publicly posted, this is where those entries are approved.

Printing a glossary

At the top right of the main glossary page, you'll see a little printer icon. If you click the icon, CourseSpaces will open a new browser window and present all the words and definitions in a printer-friendly format.

To print the glossary:

  1. Click the printer icon at the top of the main glossary page.
  2. From the newly opened window, choose Print from the File menu of your browser.
  3. Once the word list has printed, close the printer-friendly format window.

Note: Teachers are always provided with a printer-friendly format link. To enable students to print a glossary, set "Allow print view" to Yes on the edit glossary page.

Glossary comments

If you enabled comments on the glossary entries, users can annotate the definitions in the word list. When you look at a word in the glossary list, you'll see a blue "Comments" link in the lower left-hand corner:

When you click the link, a comments box opens up. Add your comment then click the "Save changes" button.

Once you've saved your comment, CourseSpaces will display all of the comments for the entry. When you return to the main glossary page, you'll see a new message next to the speech balloon telling you how many comments there are for the entry.

Turning off links to glossary terms

In places such as forum posts and quizzes, terms will be automatically highlighted and linked if they are in the glossary. Sometimes, this may be unwanted. To avoid this on a case-by-case basis, click on the blue Filters link in the activity's Settings block. There you will be able to turn off the glossary auto-linking feature for that particular activity while keeping it enabled elsewhere on the course.

Exporting glossary entries to another glossary

Glossary entries can be exported and then imported into another glossary.

  1. In Settings > Glossary administration > Export entries click the "Export entries to file" button.
  2. Save the automatically generated XML file on your computer.

When the entries are imported into another glossary, the user performing the import will be listed as author of all the entries.

A copy of a glossary may also be made by backing up the activity. To include glossary entries in the backup, 'Include enrolled users' must be ticked in the initial backup settings. When the glossary is restored, the authors of the entries will be the same as in the original glossary.

Importing glossary entries

Glossary entries can be imported via XML file in Settings > Glossary administration > Import entries.