Best practices: Making the most of popular resource modules in Moodle™
As a course builder creating compiling and combining content in an effective and meaningful way for your learners is of the utmost importance. Moodle™ provides many available resource types all of which are extremely useful for differing use cases. Using each resource in the appropriate way is how you create content internal and external that will most benefit and engage students. In today’s Best Practices blog we will look at some of the most popular Moodle™ resources – and why you should (and shouldn’t) use each of them.
How can I best organize my course front page?
When designing in Moodle™ you should be acutely aware of the organization and appearance of the course front page as this is the main “landing page” for both students and facilitators. The easiest way to create an appealing effect is with the Label resource. A label acts in simple terms as a “divider” on a course front page. When you add a label you can make use of the Moodle™ HTML Editor to add in text HTML code images videos or other multimedia. The thoughtful use of labels can create consistency and provide direction to students with very little effort on the part of the course builder. When creating textual labels make use of pre-determined Heading styles for simplicity sake and further textual consistency. One thing to watch out for is the overuse of labels especially with multimedia content. Large images diagrams or videos can create an intolerably long and scrolling course front page and slow down performance when loading the page.
Where should I place small amounts of unrelated content into Moodle™?
Often times there are small yet essential pieces of information or content students need access to but they are (or can be) totally unrelated to other course content. A video large chart or diagram or simply a small amount of very important text can sometimes make or break the flow of course content. For scenarios such as these the Page resource is your best match. This resource creates a link on the front page of the course which opens in a new screen when clicked and displays some type of created content. You might choose to use the Page resource instead of an uploaded document like a Word or PDF file if the student should not download the information contained in the document. The page resource is a great way to highlight a video or other multimedia with a small amount of introductory text so as not to use up valuable real estate on the course front page. Watch out for pages that cause the “toilet paper effect” – they keep scrolling and scrolling. If the Page induces excessive scrolling the audience will be lost.
How can I place large amounts of related content into Moodle™?
When designing large amounts of content outside of Moodle™ you chunk content into logical portions and create a flow. However what happens when that content needs to come into the LMS? As a best practice we recommend using the Book resource. This resource does exactly what you would expect – it allows you to create a sequenced outline of content using a series of Web pages all linked together through a navigation menu which serves as a Table of Contents. Books can have chapters and subchapters and they can use multiple conventions for naming (numbered indented lettered or stand alone). The book also has in-module previous and next navigational buttons for viewing in a linear fashion rather than jumping around using the Table of Contents. The book resource gives users a more inclusive learning opportunity while not overwhelming them with too much content all at once.
What if content is located on another site and I want to send my students there?
Sometimes in course creation you may find that someone else has already created content around the same topic you’re working on and it’s free and open on the internet. My motto is “If someone else said it better than me why create more content around it?” For situations such as this the URL resource is your best friend! Creating a URL resource places a link on the course front page. When students click it they are directed to that content outside of Moodle™. The targeted website has various display settings including a new window the same window or within the Moodle™ interface itself (via an iframe). Watch out for broken links in your course when you include them as URL resources and make sure to the best of your ability that you are providing students with high-quality information.
How can I display content that already exists in an external document?
In some cases you may need to provide students with downloadable documents in different formats. It may be something as simple as a text document a spreadsheet or presentation. When you have this need use the File resource. This resource type lets you upload a document into your course and display a link to it on the front page. Students can click on the link and they will have options for what to do it with (download open) based on how you configure the settings. Watch out for uploading files with strange extensions because your students may not have the appropriate software on their computers to open/view/edit the file after downloading it.
Is there a way to include multiple external files in a course?
There may be times when you find a need to provide multiple files to students. For example you might have several course take-aways job aids or podcast files that you want students to download. The Folder resource is your answer! This resource lets you upload many files into one organized folder. You can even add subfolders! Students can then access all these files by the one link on the course front page. This uses less space on the course front page and it contributes to a cleaner front page in general. Uploading files into the Folder resource is quick and easy as you can load all files at once via a zip file and then unzip that file once in Moodle™. Be aware of adding too many unrelated files into the same folder. It’s best to have multiple folders in one course that contain related documents (all video files in a folder and all lecture note files in another) to lessen the chance for student confusion.
When creating resources in Moodle™ the best way to begin is always with solid content and best practices in mind. To learn more about implementing best practices for with these and other Moodle™ resources (like the Lightbox Gallery and IMS Content Package) check out our Best Practices in E-Learning online course. To learn how to create these resources enroll in our Course Building Fundamentals online course. Best, ~Laura Lea