So, about Moodle. We all know it is a great tool for online course creation, but do you know quite how powerful it actually is? Here at TheLearning LAB, in Geneva, Switzerland, we have extensive experience with Moodle. Although we are based in Geneva, we work internationally, and no matter where you are, we are happy to work with you.
We will be touching on the more technical how-to aspects of Moodle in a later article, but first let us bring you some of our TheLearning LAB specialists' insights on getting started with Moodle!
Focussing first on the three key stagesthat bring the production process from concept to course, we bring you this advice straight from our team in Geneva.
Making the most of the course planning
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The planning stage isvital to the successof the course, and you need to take sufficient time to get through the planning stage in a way which does justice to the final product you’re hoping to produce. You can’t expect a hard-boiled egg if you only give it three minutes to cook, and the same goes for the preparation and planning of eLearning courses!
1. Getting started
You need to consider both the available technology and the pedagogyof the Moodle course creation process. With Moodle, the options are virtually endless, and there is room for independent learning, collaboration, various learning media, resources and assessment. So you are free to brainstorm your intentions and focus on your pedagogy because Moodle is going to be able to make the ideas happen. Consider information transfer, communication and interaction with and amongst your Learners, and the value of allowing Learners to co-create content.
2. Who is your Learning Audience?
Who are you going to be teaching? If it is a, for example, an effective communication course taught to a group of staff members from across the entire structure of your organisation, you may want to e.g. offer them individual forums dedicated to the different business units, so their peer reaction and discussion of the content will be highly relevant to them and not become a mixture of related and unrelated content. Your Finance team may think very differently about the ins and outs of communication styles your Design team.
If you have any background information on your learning audience which can be used to teach them effectively, now is the time to consider it. In corporate eLearning design, your audience is most likely to consist of either clients, partners, or internal team member, which each come with their specific set of needs. Courses aimed at internal team members tend to focus on products and certifications required for their job role augmentation, whereas courses for clients are expected to be more company-focused and e.g. explain in more detail what is that you do as a company. An interesting one is partners, who may benefitfrom learning materials which would typically be included in both client and internal staff versions of a course.
Remember to make sure your course materials follow an appropriate tone. A Moodle course on the legal aspects of your business and the potential legal ramifications of certain errors, may make use of more serious language, a more formal tone, and encourage the audience to view the content in a more sober and consequential way. A course on encouraging creative thinking among your employees, however, would miss the mark if it were created using very formal language and would benefit from a lighter tone, more encouraging language and a sense of humour.
3. Choosing your Delivery Style
With Moodle, you can choose to format your course based on text, video, audio, live-streaming, self-study or a combination thereof. Would you like to deliver a structured course with weekly sessions? No problem. A self-paced course with no live sessions? Perfectly fine.
Ideally, you would combine a number of different styles of teaching to allow your Learners to make the very most of their experience. Occasional live sessions pair well with all other types of content delivery, and bring a sense of structure to an otherwise self-paced module. A tight course schedule featuring a lot of timed workshops, lessons and chats will also benefit from the inclusion of e.g. a self-paced project or several self-paced modules with extra content for fast learners. Balance is the key here, and finding that perfect combination of delivery styles is worth investing some time in.
Course Creation: Moodle makes it easy
4. Making good use of the Activities available
When you set up your Course, there are 14 different types ofActivities available for use in the standard Moodle. Activities are features dedicated to student interaction with the course, where they can interact with their fellow Learners or the course teachers. They are the main way in which your Learners will experience the course, and you have to use them wisely. What you want to achieve is Learner satisfaction, a high rate of course completion, and of course, that the material taught actually becomes knowledge the Learner knows how to use!
The vast range of Activities available includes Quizzes, Multiple-Choice questions, Assignments and other testing methods which allow the teacher to get a general overview of Learner progress, but there are also collaborative toolswhich help Learners become a dedicated part of the course. Active engagement with the learning process is what you ideally want to provide to those who take part in your course, as having their curiousity piqued, being interested in the topics, and feelinginvolved in the processof their own learning.
There are Workshops to allow Learners to collaborate and employ peer assessment, a Wiki all Learners can add to or edit, Forums they can communicate their questions or incite discussions on, and Surveys to give the Learners a chance to provide feedback to their teachers and make suggestions about the course. Everything available to you as a Course Creator on Moodle is designed to bring the best possible experience to your Learners, as well as to take into account any less-than-ideal experiences they have and do something to address the issue in real-time.
When applying Activities to your course, be sure to focus on both consistency and variety, and have a think about how the various tools could be used together to produce a course dedicated specifically to your learning audience. The same goes for the learning media. Using a primary teaching method(e.g. text-based information) in combination with images, infographics, teacher-made videos and audio content, assigning the reading of book chapters or the watching of external videos, allows you to apply the principle of consistency and variety across the whole course.
Consistency could mean e.g. including a Quizz and a Survey at the end of every module, an Assignment every couple of modules, and a Chatroom available at set times every Tuesday and Thursday. This produces an actionable schedule which the Learners can grow accustomed to, giving a real-life footholdto the online learning experience. Variety, on the other hand, could mean e.g. having students address a specific question and share their reply in the Forum in Module 1, watch video content in Module 2 and answer Multiple-Choice questions, take part in a Workshop in module 3, and start module 4 with the request that they select a relevant topic and create a Wiki entry. Varying their tasks avoids ‘task fatigue’ and disengagement, as the work does not become repetitive in nature.
Your learners will benefit from a consistent experiencethat builds their engagement with the course, and a comfortably flowing learning process with a positive tone which keeps them coming back, rather than risk that they experience any frustration which may turn them away. Allowing them a consistentreview of their own progressthrough Assessments maintains their level of motivation, and encourages Learners to continue to improve.
Learning isn’t only about repetition and revision, it’s about engaging in a meaningful way with the materials
5. Resources, resources, resources.
On Moodle, resources are a key part of making sure your Learners have access to everything they need to successfully complete the course. Moodle has various options for presenting information, and every type of resource has its merits. You can produce a Book, a multi-page resource with a book-like format, to provide Learners with extensive information on a topic. You can also upload a more simple File, such as a PDF document, spreadsheet, sound file or video file. Of course, Folders exist to organise the materials, and Labels allow you to indicate what the resources are about and what topic they belong to, so your Learners don’t find themselves lost in a wave of content which they cannot navigate.
An extra thing to note: Moodle also has a very useful feature allowing you to restrict resources by language, in case you have users in multiple languages. This ensures you don’t have e.g. an English-speaking user seeing a Spanish-language infographic and experiencing confusion.
Don't underestimate the value of your students' interactions with one another: community and discussion breed innovation and knowledge!
Now that you've got the five key ideas down, you're ready to get started with the planning of your Moodle course. Remember to start with brainstorming and develop clear ideas, focus on your Learners and type of audience, and make full use of what Moose has to offer. Still unsure of how to bring your idea to life? Don't hesitate to contact TheLearning LAB, we're here to help. Whether you would like a long-distance consultation or would like to visit our Geneva office, we have what it takes to make your eLearning projects a successful reality!
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