Development of a new City Course Format

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To help save staff time and effort when setting up their modules for the new academic year, as well as improving the consistency of the learner experience, a new City Course Format has been developed.

Seeking student feedback

Learning Enhancement and Development (LEaD) and Education Research & Enterprise Services (ERES), facilitated by the expertise of staff at the City Interaction Lab ran a student user evaluation to produce a list of recommendations to inform the development of a more student-centred course format. In order to develop a new City Course Format, we identified best practice in the School templates to develop four course formats for students to evaluate.

Recommendations based on student feedback

A key insight from the student user evaluations was that students expressed a desire to access their module information quickly with the fewest possible number of steps. This highlighted the need for a consistent layout for Moodle modules across a programme with quick access to key information.

In terms of layout, students preferred collapsed topics, which they found easier to access relevant content and get a sense of where they are on the module. The endless scroll of topics or week in a non-collapsed layout was perceived to be overwhelming and made it hard for students to get an overview of the module.

One main way to ensure quick access to module information, resources and activities is through the Module Dashboard. However when the Dashboard was placed on the left-hand column, students failed to notice it until prompted. Their preference was for the Dashboard to be placed at the top of the main content area.

Addressing staff concerns over time and effort post-rollover

Staff also expressed their concerns over the time it takes to set-up modules after rollover, including completing semi-formatted blocks with their name and contact information. We also have a large number of modules where semi-formatted blocks have not been completed which leads to poor user experience for students.

Last year there were issues with the use of the template on rollover which resulted in additional costs to manually fixed hundreds of modules across the university. This is not a sustainable solution going forward.

New City Course Format features

To ensure these issues don’t happen again we have set up a new City course format based on feedback from students on their preferences for a consistent course format, as well as addressing staff concerns over time and effort spent on setting up modules for the new academic year.

This has resulted in the development of a new City Course Format which has:

  • Two column layout with right-aligned blocks, as three column layouts were seen as cluttered and constricted the main content area.
  • Collapsed topics with overview of content available within each topic, as this gives an improved overview of the module structure and content without being overwhelming for students.
  • New and improved Dashboard within the main content area, to ensure quick access to key module information, resources and activities.
  • New Course Office role and capability to indicate Module Leader(s) for a module, making who to contact clearer for students and staff
  • Staff contact details built into the Dashboard with a link to enrolled lecturers and course officers, contact details will only need to be completed once in your Profile rather than for each module individually.
  • The Participants link will be replaced with links to Students and Staff for student users. (Note: The Participants link is still available for staff).
  • School specific resources now automatically displayed based on the module categorisation (e.g. Cass’ Undergraduate Programmes or SHS’ Early Years Division), updated centrally for automatic population across all related modules
  • Module events and module updates blocks now provide contextual information on the modules in which they appear, such as all calendar events and forum posts from the module.
  • Help & Support menu in top navigation bar for both staff and students, offering quick access to educational technologies support, IT Service Desk and accessibility information.
  • Lecture capture (previously known as Echo360) will be available within the Dashboard if enabled.
  • Quickmail for staff use will be added by default to all modules using the new City Course Format

To see what the new layout looks like, please go to our Educational Vignettes blog.

Replacement of School templates with the new City Course Format

The new City Course Format will replace previously used templates. This will provide students with a consistent experience across a programme and reduce staff time and effort in setting up modules for the new academic year.

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