The database activity in QMplus is a very flexible tool. It can be used by staff to organise and display information such as lists of project topics or it can be configured to allow students to collaborate to create a shared resource, such as book reviews or useful study resources.
A database can contain a variety of different information including, text, images, files, geo location information and web addresses. You can customise how the information in the database is displayed including forms for entering information into the database and how existing entries are displayed.
It is also possible to allow commenting and rating of database entries which means that the database can be used as an assessed activity.
Althought the database is a very flexible tool, things that are worth noting:
- Although called a database activity, this will not provide you with any sophisticated relational database functionality, it is a simple flat database. You cannot define database queries.
- It is possible to customise the look and feel of the database in a variety of ways. This does require knowledge of writing HTML.
This guide covers:
Adding and configuring a database activity
With editing turned on, in the section you wish to add your database, click the Add an activity or resource link and choose Database.
Give your database activity a title and a description. The settings in the activity are largely the same as for other activities in QMplus. Settings that are unique to the database activity include the Entries section.
- If you do not want student entries to be visible to others until they are approved by a member of staff, set Approval required to Yes. Then decide whether you want students to be able to edit their entries after they have been approved.
- If you’d like students to be able to comment on entries, set this to Yes. There is no way to moderate comments before they become visible.
- If you want to force students to contribute their own entries before being able to see anyone else’s, use this setting.
- Use this setting to limit the number of entries a student can make.
Once you have finished, click the Save and display button at the bottom of the page.
Adding your database fields
One of the first things to think about is what data your database is going to contain and how that information will be entered.
- A field is a named unit of information. Each entry in a database activity module can have multiple fields of multiple types e.g. a text field, Date, Number or a menu. Define the fields or use a preset from the drop-down (see below).
- Give your entry a name that is unique and short. The description is for your benefit to help identify that field.
- If you need to ensure one or several particular fields are always completed, then tick the box ‘Required field’ when setting up the fields for your database (see below).
- Press ‘Add’ button. Add more fields using the same process.
Adding an entry
- Go to the “Add entry” tab
- This will display your fields and depending on your fields it will allow you to enter text or choose data from the drop-down list.
- On this screen you can also
- View single: one item at a time
- View list : several items at a time
- Search : search the entries
Setting your database so only staff can add entries
By default, students are able to add entried to a database activity. If you do not want your students to make entries to the database then you have to change the permissions on the activity. To do this:
Click on Permissions in the Settings block.
Scroll down to Write Entries section and click on ‘X’ next to Student. Then click on ‘Remove’ button (see below).
Case studies of database use at QMUL
The database activity has been used at QMUL in a variety of different ways…there are probably lots more that we don’t know about. These might give you some ideas about how you might make use of the activity:
- Project databases – staff in the School of Mathematical Sciences and in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science have used the database activity to gather project information for students
- Organising research resources – Dr Dan Todman in the School of History has used the database to help his students organise their research materials.
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