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Tips to reorganize and energize Moodle courses

Current situation

Instructors fortunate enough to be using Moodle with their online courses during this incredulous school year have been busily posting resources and activities on their courses.  I am currently mentoring scores of online instructors and have found that several of them have been focusing on the content rather than the organization of their courses. This is completely understandable, as this is the first term that they have taught in a fully online mode. The evidence of this is the long list of resources and activities in the Zero or top topic of their Moodle courses.

We are now in the second month of online instruction of this term, so I think it is time to remind teachers to spend some time and effort to organize their online courses.  This will prevent confusion among their learners and it will make reusing their courses more efficient in the future if they are required. Also, redistributing and adding more activities and resources across the course main screen will help energize their online courses. Below are a few tips that teachers can use to reorganize and energize their courses’ appearance. If you have any more useful suggestions, please comment below.

Course Improvement Tips

Add visual content via labels.  Using labels to delineate, signpost and add interactive content on a Moodle course main page promotes structure and engagement with the course page. Commonly, static images such as lines or a GIFs are placed on the course main page. Adding interactive content through H5Ps, emojis, hyperlinks, audio or video clips, photographs, drawn pictures and more will invigorate the learner’s experience.

Add stimulating content in HTML blocks. HTML blocks allow course developers, in this case teachers, to display any kind of information or activity, within the limits of a small space on a course. Examples may include: student of the day, word of the day, current weather, stock market indices, daily image, visitors’ map, or a poll to mention a few.

Add a random glossary block to promote vocabulary acquisition. Positioning a linked random glossary block on the course home page will ensure that learners are exposed to the current vocabulary, every time they access the course home page. Images and audio also are available in this block to enhance the effect.

Create and add an introductory/orientation video or animation. Even if the course has already started, instructors should be looking forward to the next cohort as forecasts for the pandemic are not looking promising. As a result, we may be teaching fully online for the next few terms. An introduction to the course and the teacher gives the students more of a personal relationship with the course on their first visit.

Add an RSS Feed block for targeted and seamless information. RSS feed blocks show focused information on the course main page that can be referenced by students while working on a project or building knowledge in a specific genre. Good examples of this are international, regional or local news feeds from a trusted provider or a pedagogical feed such as Breaking News English that shares current events with relevant activities. news feeds can be referenced as a daily ice breaker discussion while students are entering the virtual classroom.

Add QR codes to mobile resources or activities. Visual QR codes can be positioned throughout a Moodle course to provide learners with a means of quick linking to interactive activities on a handheld device. Examples of these are Kahoot, Quizlet Live,Quizizz games, virtual tours, and class worksheets.

Tighten up the introductory topic. Know as topic zero in Moodle or the introductory topic, an online course should only contain basic organizational an communication items. These include course, instructor, and institution information. Other items could include a course glossary, teacher announcements, an attendance widget, a course forum and a link to a virtual classroom. Any items that have accumulated in the top topic should be redistributed into the course topics or modules below the top topic.

John Allan

John Allan

John is a Canadian who writes about learning object development and online facilitation from a teacher's perspective.

One thought on “Tips to reorganize and energize Moodle courses

  • Some awesome ideas there John !
    I particularly like the “Tighten up the introductory topic” comment.
    Far too often I see content in the heading section of a course, forcing users to scroll past this EVERY time they visit the course home page.
    And usually, the content in this section is something they may only read once or twice, maybe at the start of their course.
    Soooooo …. put this is Topic 2 !
    I generally advise the only thing that should be in the course header section is the main course Forum – to keep the central communication tool high-profile and easy to find.


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