Thursday, June 9, 2011

A gem of a tool for English teachers: Marginalia forum web annotation tool for Moodle 1.9 and Moodle 2.0.

Add web annotation to your Moodle forums! This is a great pedagogical tool, from 2008, for those of you teaching English. You can use the Marginalia Moodle plugin to type corrections to your students' forum posts.

Here's a Youtube video showing you the plugin in action. No audio, so don't bother turning up the volume knob on your speakers.

I discovered this tool when I was surfing to find if there was something that I could use that was even close to UK Open University''s web annotation system in their Moodle 2.0. Boy was I glad to find this gem from 2008.

What are the benefits of this tool?
(1) It's free
(2) Once installed it is built into Moodle 1.9
(3) You can turn it on and off at will

Too see this in action, head over to:
and also here's a direct link to a demo:

To see my version of it on my live site, surf to:
Username: student
Password: moodle
Make some annotations if you wish, but please leave the forum with minimal graffitti. Thanks.
To learn more and to download the plugin, head over to:

Installing the plugin

Disclaimer and WARNING! (Update on 3rd July 2011)
Please be ADVISED that if you use the Nanogong Video Recorder in your Moodle forums, this plugin will affect your Nanogong playback feature. You won't be playback any of your in-forum Nanogong recordings! Nanogong will record alright, but it simply won't playback the audio because Marginalia will intercept your left-mouse-click, which was meant for your Nanogong player, resulting in a non-clickable Nanogong icon for audio playback.(Update note: this is thankfully, NO longer true. Nanogong now works with Marginalia - 21 July 2011! Click here to see how. Now Nanogong and Marginalia can BOTH be used in the same forum).

To install it, download the the plugin from
It comes in two flavours - Moodle 1.9 and Moodle 2.0.

A caveat - I have only tested the Moodle 1.9 version. What you need to do is:
1. Please read the INSTALL.TXT file that comes inside the zip file.
2. Geof Glass recommends that you make a backup of your entire Moodle directory tree before performing the install. Better safe that sorry!
3. Navigate to (use FTP or Putty, etc.) to your Moodle folder (i.e., the parent folder above the mod folder).
4. Copy the file moodle19.patch to your Moodle folder.
5. Backup your Moodle core files just in case
6. Run the patch command: patch -b -p 1 < moodle19.patch

This is the thorny part (or the "duriany") part of Moodle! Keep your fingers crossed, say a prayer and hope for the best.  If successful, you will know because of the output messages confirming a successful (or not!) patch. If unsuccessful, you will have to unpatch it with the (patch -R command ?? Google that one first.)

7. Copy the entire Marginalia mod and block folders over your Moodle mod and block folders
8. Go to Administration | Notifications to install the plugin and to initialise the databases

To change the colours of the plugin, I recommend you use Firefox's Firebug extension. By right-clicking on a link, and choosing "Inspect Element" from the shortcut menu, you will get a glimpse right into the heart of the CSS file and code. That's what I did to customise this plugin according to my theme.

If you happen to use this plugin for other purposes other than proof-reading and correcting English grammar in forums, I'd be most interested to know about it.

Finally, I believe that on Geof Glass' website, there are instructions to get this working on any website, not just a Moodle forum. But that's a subject of another post!

Frankie Kam
Melaka, Malaysia

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