8 ways to up the ante of your Moodle™ and Joule courses in 2015

The start of a new year is a perfect time to set a few goals for improving your e-learning courses. In today’s post I am going to focus on eight tips for refining the quality of your Moodle™ and Joule courses over the “course” of 2015:

  1. Support multiple devices by using a responsive theme so students can access from anywhere at any time. In Moodle™ this means switching to More or Clean themes. If you are a Open LMS customer you can also try Snap which is more than a theme but a new student experience. Read one of my earlier blog posts to learn more about designing courses for mobile access.
  2. Adapt activities to the needs of each student. As educators we know that one size does not fit all. You can make activities conditional based on user interaction by enabling the use of conditional activities on your site. When enabled teachers can restrict access to activities based on restrictions such as group or a student’s achieved grade for another activity.
  3. Personalize the experience. In addition to conditional activities within Moodle™ Joule users can use the Personalized Learning Designer (PLD). This tool allows for complex conditions to be used for releasing content actions to occur based on specific events (e.g. a grade changing a user logging in) and a range of actions to occur (e.g. email pop-ups redirects to specific areas of the course) based on a user’s interaction or lack of interaction. In addition to the personalized learning experience you can personalize the messages through the use of tokens (which can input a range of user information course information activity activity grade information or course grade information).
  4. Comment directly on student submissions. Did you know that you can annotate student PDF submissions and comment inline for online text submissions? The past two Joule releases (which included Moodle™ 2.6 and 2.7 core) have given instructors these added features which provide an improved grading experience for teachers and improved readability of feedback for students. The annotation tool allows you to grade as if grading and marking a paper copy. So go ahead highlight circle and add notes checkmarks/Xs and even smiley faces or frowns to your student’s submissions!
  5. Be available to students. Make sure there are multiple ways for students to reach out to you and make yourself available. Remember the online environment might be new to your students and they can get frustrated easily. Set expectations for teacher turnaround and stick to it.
  6. Simplify your course structure. Take a close look at your course design and decide if it can be simplified. Is it chunked into manageable learning pieces or are there too many small pieces that would be better if chunked together?
  7. Remix your content. It might be time to consider delivering some of your content using a different module in Moodle™. Various instructional strategies can be used inside of Moodle. Don’t just use one module over and over again. Likewise don’t only use one activity type for assessments (such as forums or assignments). There are a range of possibilities. Take a step in a new direction master a new activity and implement it in your classroom. Our Moodle™/Joule Course Building for Advanced Users is a perfect course to learn about advanced activities in Moodle™ in order to add collaboration increase interactivity and gain student feedback. Learn about activities such as Lesson Wiki Workshop SCORM Survey and other features such as badges certificate and outcomes.
  8. Look at your course and site data to analyze usage trends. What are the most commonly used resource types at your institution? What is the most active course? Are you instructors using groups? How many times are you users logging in? To learn more about gathering data in Moodle™ and Joule read my post titled “Big Data is a Big Deal”.

I hope these ideas give you some inspiration for improving your online courses in Moodle™ and Joule this year. Thank you for reading.

~Rebecca DeSantis, Senior Instructional Designer



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