Real Life Stories
Organize Your Course on Moodle to Facilitate Student Learning
Course organization is one of the ways a teacher can help students succeed in an online course. Although I am an experienced teacher, I had never worked with Moodle before the pandemic, and it then became mandatory in my college. After an exploratory tour of the Moodle platform with a colleague, I set about adapting and transferring my course content in the advanced ESL (English Second Language) course. I want to share a few tips with you.
Students in effectively organized courses are able to spend their time focusing on learning because they know what they are supposed to do and when.
Help students quickly find the content they need
Students had all their classes on Moodle, that’s why I always identify my class with a picture so that, straight away, students can tell which class they are in. A picture of my pet-pug, Diva, is easier for the students to remember than the official number for the course.
My first page is a welcome page with all of the links to the important content for the course. I believe there is nothing to hide, students need to know in advance everything about the course. That is why I give students access to documents that explain in detail what they have to do and when they are due.
Among other things, on the welcome page there is a link to:
- Zoom, where the synchronous classes take place
- the course plan
- the answer keys to exercises
- a verb guide
- how to write an essay
There is also a link to a Word document containing a semester overview. Because flexibility is needed in a lesson planning, I tell the students that I may make changes and they should check the document regularly. All of the weeks are outlined, students know exactly:
- what they are going to do in class each week
- online as a group
- offline individually
- in small groups (breakout rooms)
- what has to be submitted for homework
- when their evaluations will be done (highlighted in red in the document).
Another link on the welcome page gives students all of the necessary information concerning their reading assignment (a novel) for the semester:
- what pages to read each week
- questions to answer on the weakly reading
- dates for in-class discussions on the novel
Week-by-week course content in Moodle
Of course, each Moodle post starts with a picture of a pug. In an online context, dogs are easy conversation starters, even at the college level.
All of my weekly posts start with the same 3 items:
- Online: description of the synchronous activities (about 1 hour), either presentations by the teacher or students working in breakout groups
- Offline: description of the asynchronous assignments (about 2 hours) that students do on their own with a deadline clearly indicated.
- Homework to be done during the week
Students often get confused when only the weeks are given, “Is it week 11 or 13?” I recommend that when teachers set up their course, they not only include the 15 class weeks, but also the weeks off such as spring break or Easter. Also, if a Monday schedule is replacing a Tuesday schedule, the teacher has to mention it. I give as much information as possible to avoid any confusion, such as the day and the date.
Sticking to this strategy definitely helps streamline the design process for the course and it helps the students understand the framework of the course.
Students are told to submit all of their assignments on Moodle, so there is no confusion. I can go to Moodle to review the students’ work and then add grades and feedback to student submissions.
Moodle: an easy platform to learn and use
As a teacher who was new to Moodle, I found it was easy to create my first course. The first thing I did was create a framework (the course overview document or 15-week plan). Once that was done, it became an iterative process over a few hours. In fact, I have given that course many times, so I had all of the content and all I needed to do was organise it into Moodle.
I found out that I can also easily add games like Kahoot! to review some elements of the course. I will be trying that next.
A teacher being able to communicate clearly and organize -the course effectively is the key to a successful online course. Basically, it’s as simple as having everything in the same place (Moodle):all of the course activities, assignments and students’ work as well as providing students in advance with in-depth instructions on what you want them to do each week.
A meaningful structure is logical, helping people to comprehend and retain the content as well as helping them quickly find the content they need.