Moodle design protocols for usability and accessibility

These guidelines relate to the set up and layout of your online course presence in Moodle. The guidelines do not relate to the type of content and activities you should include in your course, but refer to how you should layout and structure your course page.

These guidelines have been framed as Do and Do not list for ease of use. 

Do

  • Add labels with short explanatory text or sub-headings that make it easier for students to navigate the page and understand the task. Use your Moodle course page as an index: Treat your main course page as an outline or index and only include links, short explanatory heading labels or small graphics.
  • Put overall course related material in main course area: Add important and overall course related material in the main course area, including news forum, common room forum, course outline, assignment submission and assessment summary.
  • Use labels for clarity: Add sub headings within your main course page: This makes things easier to find and groups related content.
  • Separate additional materials: If you have additional materials that don't have a specific order, you could create a label to add a sub-heading such as additional materials to group them.
  • Use topics format: Group related materials and activities within a topic area. You can edit the topic heading to add the title of the topic and/or the dates for which the topic runs.
  • Layout your course sequentially: Make it easier for your students to navigate by laying out materials and activities sequentially in the order you want students to work through them.
  • Highlight current topic: Use the topic highlight icon to highlight the current topic, making it easier for students to find the topic in which they are supposed to be working.
  • Provide sufficient instructions: Give students sufficient instructions to direct them through your course and the activities, even if your activities are deliberately open or student defined.

Don't

  • Forget about basic web usability: Design for colour-blind users by ensuring contrast between background colour and text. Don't use flashing icons that can create an issue for people with epilepsy, and where possible provide alternative text for graphics to allow the screen to be accessed using screen readers by those with vision impairments. For more information, see W3C web accessibility standards.
  • Forget about your students' download limits: make sure you provide information as to file sizes in the title when linking to large files. (Note: Moodle does this automatically for drag and drop files)
  • Use labels for time-sensitive information: Don't put announcements, details of changes or important news information within the body of the course. It won't be immediately apparent to students when this information is new, it makes the course page confusing, makes it difficult to run multiple separate cohorts through the same course page, and makes it more difficult to re-use the course in the future. It is much better to post this information in the News forum, ensuring students are more likely to get the message as the News forum delivers each post as an email.
  • Add lots of text/graphics/videos to the main page in the header or a label: If you are using a label to add text, make sure you keep this brief. If this is more than a paragraph, you should probably create a separate page for it giving it a meaningful title. For example, Activity 1 – Instructions.
  • Embed content from other sites into the main course page: Each time a student enters your course site they have to download any content such as YouTube videos or graphics that you have embedded on the main page. While having a lot of this content in your main page looks engaging it can create a problem for your student's Internet download quota as they have to download this every time they enter your course. Also if the site the content is being streamed from is down, your Moodle course page will take much longer to load.