The Glossary activity module offers the opportunity for you or you and your students to create and maintain a list of definitions, like a dictionary.

Glossary can be used in many ways. 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 into categories. The auto-linking feature will highlight any word in the course which is located in the glossary.

Types of Glossaries

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 length of the course: 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, for example by awarding 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, you could also 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, a glossary is a fast and effective solution.


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