One of Moodle’s biggest selling points is it’s ease of use. After our help with the installation and helping hand to kick-start your use of Moodle with our top five tips, you should be well on your way to enjoying your new LMS platform. However, despite all of the positives laid out in this blog series so far, there are more than a few pitfalls that fresh Moodle users find themselves falling into.
Well, fear not! For this blog post will give you road map of those pot holes and tips as to how you can avoid them. We will navigate through ineffective implementation of Moodle’s tools to design tips, so belt up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
- Don’t Get Lazy!
When Microsoft launched Powerpoint in 1990, you could hear the cry of joy from university lecturers across the World. Finally, the painstaking task of creating lecture slides by hand was needed no more, edits could be made in seconds rather than hours, and at last, lecturers could relax.
In many ways, Moodle does for the classroom what powerpoint did for lecture theatres way back in the early 90s. However, this is a double edged blade, and Moodle’s ease of use can come back to bite you.
A successful Moodle course requires time, dedication and structured thought. It should bring your learners on a journey at a steady pace to a preselected destination. You need to plan it accordingly. Unfortunately, where last minute tinkering may go unnoticed on a slide by slide basis, the difference between a well thought out and a ‘thrown together’ Moodle course is glaringly obvious.
- Make Assessments Count
Providing good feedback to your students is key to their learning and consequent progression. A great way to do this, is through Moodle’s quiz building functionality, and it’s capability to easily create both formative and summative assessments.
But – just like with complementary drinks at the staff Christmas party – you can have too much of a good thing. Drowning your students in unnecessary assessments is not going to motivate them, or improve their learning experience. Keep your assessments regular, but not too frequent, this way they’ll maintain their impact and you’ll see this reflected in your students grades.
- Looks Matter
Where we’re sure that your Moodle course is beautiful on the inside, if it doesn’t look that part your (arguably shallow) students won’t want to give it a second look. Navigation, layout and structure are the gospel that you need to live by when designing your Moodle pages within your site.
For example, in the modern age of smartphones and tablets, scrolling is incredibly natural. Use this space. Don’t try and cram all of your material onto what can be a 4-5 inch screen, allow your students to scroll though your content like their devices were designed to do. You can even use this to your advantage, making them scroll down for big information reveals. Keep the content consumption experience clear in your mind when you are designing your course.
Just because students can scroll, don’t get distracted by using large banners and fancy turning image carousels (no matter how seemingly fun and pretty they are). Be brave, allow your content to take centre stage, don’t distract your students with moving images and animation intensive areas.
Finally, think of your Moodle courses as a journey. You know the start, and you have a desired destination, but many students can stray from the path on the way there. By creating links through your lesson material, you can digitally guide your students through your material ensuring that not only they reach the end, but also have an enjoyable and non-confusing trip.
- Resource Resolution
Where this mistake would feel well at home in the previous section, it’s so important we thought we’d give it the attention it deserves.
Images and diagrams are crucial when it comes to explaining concepts to students. Being able to clearly see the steps of a process of the effects of an event can stimulate and enhance their learning experience. One thing is for sure, it definitely won’t if they’re having to squint at something that is so pixelated it looks like it came straight out of your 10-year-old’s Minecraft universe.
Always, always, always check the resolution of your resources before you make your lessons live. Ensure that they are adding to the quality of your lesson rather than detracting from it. Incorporate figure legends, use Moodle’s built in description fields to add much needed context and to your images and videos.
Put yourself in the students shoes, where it may be easy to just insert the first image from a google image search, is it generating the most impact? Is it helping your learning experience?
By avoiding these few simple pot holes on the road to success, you can improve your Moodle courses exponentially. Remember that not all students are going to be IT wizards, remember that despite it being a virtual platform – they need the same care and attention that they would get in a one on one session in the classroom.
Good luck, and happy course designing.