General course content and activities

Purpose

To achieve a consistent student experience of Moodle site organisation and presentation across courses for basic administrative and course management content and activities. Having different types of learning activities can help to engage students and cater to different learning styles. However, students and teachers benefit from a standard approach to the administrative aspects of an online course.

General element

General course content and activities

Specific components and examples

1. Admin content

All courses in Moodle should contain:

  • A copy of the course outline
  • Links to any important School information.

2. Basic communication (Asynchronous)

A student should be able to expect that most course communications from their teacher will originate from the Moodle course, and that each course will provide students with an avenue for communicating with their teacher and fellow students.

  • News forum – Teachers can quickly send emails to all students in their course about an important message, such as a room change or assessment dates, simply by posting this message in the News forum. This is an effective method of communicating with all students in a course and saves the teacher time they would normally have to spend creating and maintaining separate student email lists.
  • General discussion and questions forum–The news forum is a one-way communication tool. Teachers can post, but students cannot post or reply. Hence, in addition to the news forum, it is important to provide students with a means of communicating online with teachers and with their fellow students, even for courses conducted largely face-to-face. This is achieved through setting up a general discussion and questions forum.*
     *Note: This forum has already been set up as part of school templates. View more information on templates.
  • Establishing teacher presence – Teachers in an online environment need to be intentional about creating a sense of 'presence' in their courses to give their students a sense of authentic connection with the person who is organising and monitoring their learning. Establishing 'teacher presence' should reflect aspects of the teacher's personality as well as their instructional approach and expectations.
    • A welcome message is a simple way to create an immediate sense of teacher presence in an online course and can be achieved using any medium: audio/video, photo, text, or a combination of these. 
    • A video welcome message from the course coordinator is now considered to be a standard inclusion in most online courses.
    • CLIPP can help you create a course introduction, or you can create a video with your smart phone.
    • View an example of a video introduction (YouTube, 4:35min).
  • Ongoing teacher presence / support online – As a course progresses teachers need to do more than log in and monitor activity in their Moodle course sites. They need to be involved as active participants within the online learning community. It is important for students to see evidence of frequent teacher engagement through announcements, discussion board posts, responses to student queries, etc. 

To promote and support ongoing interaction, teachers need to establish and communicate a framework outlining how they expect to engage with their students. Expectations for response times and levels of teacher presence online will vary depending on the delivery mode of the course, but students need to know how to ask questions within a course site and when they can expect a response from the teacher.

Thus students should be given clear information regarding:

  • which communication tools will be used, how and by whom
  • expectations for interaction
  • timing and frequency of teacher interactions and moderation and
  • protocols for interaction including cyber-ethics information (sometimes referred to a 'netiquette')

Students in wholly online courses also appreciate the opportunity to interact with their teachers in real time (synchronously), whether in a text-based chat space or by utilising other available institutional communication technologies such as Lync. 

For wholly online courses, it is considered good practice for teachers to set up specific session times ('office hours') when they are available for student queries and other interactions in real time.

3. Assessment

The Moodle online learning environment supports many forms of both formative and summative assessment. 

Formative assessments are activities which allow students to consolidate their learning and receive feedback on how they are progressing, and usually have minimal or zero marks. 

  • Online quizzes, self-paced (SCORM) activities and Moodle Lessons are all effective tools for providing formative assessment. 
  • Some formative assessments may also contain a summative element, e.g. 'completion of all online quizzes comprises 5% of your total mark for this course'. 
  • Formative assessment activities can also be set as 'hurdle' tasks i.e. students are required to complete them in order to progress through the course.

Summative assessments are designed to allow students to demonstrate that they have met the learning outcomes of the course. These types of assessment are a tool for measuring what students have learned. 

  • Moodle summative assessment tasks can include submission of written assignments, completion of assessable online individual or group-based activities such as wikis or workshops, and/or participation in online activities such as posting to discussion forums


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