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Using a database activity in your topic is one way to allow students to create content
and share it with others. Using the Database activity in a topic ideally consists of 5 stages, in a looped process.
The database activity allows teachers and students to build up a bank of structured information (a 'collection'). A database activity could be used:
as a collaborative collection of web links, books, book reviews, journal references etc
to display student-created photos, posters, websites or text for peer comment and review.
Using a database in your topic is a way to allow students to create content ('entries') and interact with others (collaborate). Students have the opportunity to teach and learn from their peers by making considered decisions about resources that require critical thinking, and supporting their choices through debate (comments). As well as being a resource in the current topic, the content created can become a legacy or resource/exemplar for another (future) topic (ie it can be rolled over).
The database entries need to be exported/imported separately if you want to use the database in another site (eg the topic's next version) – only the database shell will be copied over. Contact your eLearning support team.
The success of the database activity is in the planning. Once students begin adding content (entries), it can be tricky to change the fields, so thinking ahead is key.
What is the intended purpose of the database activity?
What fields/questions do you want your students to answer? What format – uploading images or documents? Links? What fields are required/optional?
How does it link to assessment – is it an assessment item itself, or is it a step towards an assessment item (eg resource supporting assessment, digital literacy skill development)?
How interactive do you want the activity to be? Allow comments on entries (moderated/unmoderated)? Students/teachers rate entries? Ratings can be aggregated to form a final grade which is recorded in the Gradebook.
The structure of the entries is
defined by the teacher as a number of fields. The visual layout of
information when listing, viewing or editing database entries is controlled by templates.
When creating a database for the first time, it can be helpful to think about it like an Excel spreadsheet. The teacher creates the columns (fields), and students and/or teachers add rows of content.
Once you have planned your database fields, you are ready to set up your database.
The database activity is a highly customisable and very versatile tool, so it's important to test what you've built thoroughly before releasing the activity to students. Ask your local eLearning support team
to check your Database for you (especially if this is your first time).
It is best to amend mistakes before students add entries.
Practice creating an entry – as a form of scaffolding, you could support students by showing what an entry that's added looks like
Preview the Single, List, and Add views – is the layout is clear and easy to understand?
When setting up your database activity, you can enable a number of optional settings. Some of these settings require administration by a teacher:
Approve entries – If enabled, entries require approving by a teacher before they are viewable by everyone
Give ratings to entries – if ratings are being used for marking (settings)
To encourage students to add entries, you could add an initial entry to model good practice, setting a standard and ensuring that instructions are not misunderstood. You could add the first entry in the Test phase). This is equivalent to making the first post in a forum. The fields you set up when you built the database will also prompt students as to what to add to create an entry. Students like examples and will engage more promptly with the tool.
You can see how many students have contributed on the topic homepage:
How did your database activity go? Would you set up the activity differently next time round? Talk to
colleagues and/or your local eLearning support team to get ideas for improvement.
If you are happy with the activity and you want to use the content in a future topic version/other topics, you can ask your eLearning support team to roll over or import the database activity. The entries will need to be exported/imported separately.