Moodle 2: Curiosity doesn’t ‘kill’ the cat

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One of the most important things for students growing up today is the love of embracing change. In the context of the 21st century learner, how can we prepare them to have curiosity and a question disposition?

In this post I investigate some of the pedagogical evidence behind using Moodle to enhance the student learning experience. I also review some of the current ways that moodle is used and the areas students say they’d quite like to see more of. I will then point to some web based tools that may help in shaping your online content for the next academic year.

The pedagogical evidence

Moodle if used well can act as a catalyst in transforming teaching practice (Roder & Rata-Skudder,2012). Careful planning of the Moodle course is essential for creating a positive and effective learning experience for your students. Articulating the learning outcomes and aligning them with teaching and assessment strategies, referred to as constructive alignment (Biggs 1999), will assist to select your course content and plan the learning activities for your students.

Why do it?

Without  planning, the flat structure of Moodle can result in a course with a long list of links on a page requiring endless scrolling and discouraging student engagement. Structuring your content and activities clearly is essential to support active participation from your students. If students can’t find the activity, or a particular resource, they’ll get confused and frustrated. Below are some of the common mistakes on designing a moodle module:

  • uploads of large lecture presentations and word docs
  • reading lists not updated
  • students feedback on the learning environment not used
  • not able to distinguish student deadlines easily
  • no means of students getting in touch with their peers online

In contrast, below are some of the extras students say they’d like to see in moodle:

  • an appealing,inviting and more personal module homepage
  • able to easily access content and plan their work
  • a place to continue their interactions with fellow peers whilst away from the campus
  • a mixture of blended learning in modules

The latest projects and tools

There are a range of resources both internally and externally designed to help you rethink the way your module could be enhanced using moodle (both inside and outside the classroom). From a national perspective, JISC Design Studio toolkit draws together a range of existing and emergent JISC resources which support technology-enhanced teaching and learning practice one of which is our very own PREDICT project. Here is an interesting google doc that shows 47 ways of using moodle.

The Pedagogic upgrade working group have begun to consider a checklist that address key areas that work together to produce an enhanced course. If you are looking for ideas on how you might adapt tools that are available to use in the classroom, then the technology audit tool (developed by our ed. tech teams) might be of use. This link provides a description of the types of tools available for use at the university. This project is still under development stage but will be helpful if you wanted to know what tools are available for an activity for e.g what is provided if you wanted to use more video in your module. In addition you may also wish to use popcorn and/or connect to create interactive video/audio presentation slides. Or you might like a twitter feed to help students mix with other students.

A recent blog post by the School of Arts and Social Sciences educational technology team talks about how to add an rss feed into a moodle module. Alternatively Reading Lists Online provides students with quick and easy access to books, eBooks, journal articles and the websites recommended for the modules they have registered for. An example can be seen here.  Incorporating these resources into your module will be beneficial if you want your students to be up to date with the latest documentation.

Should you prefer hearing from an expert view then see below for Dr. Sian Lindsay, a lecturer’s perspective on using Moodle as part of the PREDICT project. Here she talks about how to help engage the students in both a formal and informal fashion.


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