Enabling markdown in comments allows learners to format their contributions in a richer way than the standard plain text approach that is widely used across the platform. This is particularly useful for courses on technical subjects, as it is possible to share formatted code and code blocks.
You can switch on supporting markdown in comments on the Edit Course page in Course Creator (this area is only accessible to Organisation Admins so please get in touch with yours if you need help finding this). If you make this change to a course that is in progress, be aware that learners who commented before it was enabled will still have the plain text comment types, and consider any course content that explains how to use the comment features.
Below shows the information that is displayed to learners when they are inputting their comment. Instructions to learners on how to use markdown will be provided as a link next to the comment field. You can see these instructions here.
How does markdown look in comments?
Here is an example of the way that markdown can be used to display code in the comments:
We have not enabled the sharing of videos and images in comments for now, due to moderation concerns.
Designing opportunities for learners to use markdown in comments
This feature has a range of potential applications for learners within step comments. Firstly it allows them to share code in the comments, which creates a space for experimentation and comparison. Learners could be encouraged to share lines of code to perform a range of functions, then learners can ‘like’ the most effective and filter comments according to the most popular comments. Markdown also enables learners to express scientific notation, so they can try applying formulae in a comment, and peers can offer feedback.
More ambitious courses could prompt learners to start a dialogue using code, where each learner arriving at the comments adds a new line of code, or slightly adapts it to perform a different function.
Beyond code, markdown allows learners to add in-text links without using as many of the 1200 characters available per comment. This is useful for investigative steps, where learners are encouraged to go out onto the world wide web to find interesting, relevant websites and share them back via the comments with a brief summary.
Learners could also use markdown to format comments in particular ways, including:
- Listing ideas numerically
- Ranking items,
- Grouping ideas,
- Highlighting or emphasizing using italics or bold text
This could be useful for teaching languages as well.