Learning Design Maxim #1: Start with the pedagogy and the technology will follow.
What blended or online learning dynamic are you facilitating?
1. Delivering real-time lectures
At St. Nicholas, the Zoom platform is our primary mode of real-time interaction for formal classroom lectures. For helpful support resources for using Zoom at St. Nicholas, see these Staff Zoom Support videos and Resources.
Instructors can also use Google Meet to coordinate meetings and tutorials with students.
2. Delivering content to students for independent study
Is it a reading?
Readings can be uploaded and shared several different ways in Moodle.
Readings like PDFs (or other filetypes like PPT and Word docs) can be uploaded as a File. (Easy)
If you have a series of files, you may want to upload them all into a single Folder. (Easy)
Instructors can create multi-page readings using the Book Resource. (Intermediate)
Is it video?
Video can be shared several ways in Moodle. But bear in mind, video files take up a lot of storage space, so we should avoid uploading video files directly to Moodle. Instead, consider a third party video hosting platform like Youtube, or even Google Drive (both are services provided through our SMSI Google accounts).
Once you have identified the location of your video (ultimately, a URL), you can share the video as a standalone URL resource, or you can embed your video via the Label resource accompanied by text, using the “Insert Media” feature. This is a good way to ensure a “preview” of the video file on the Moodle page.
Is it an external web resource?
3. Facilitating dialogue
You may want to open up space for student dialogue and group discussion. Here are some aspects to consider?
Are they speaking in real time and they need to see or hear each other?
If so: you should consider a real-time (synchronous) video chat, using either Zoom or Google Meet. If students want to meet independently via Zoom, they can use the St. Nicholas Virtual Student Lounges to get together. However, they’ll have more control of their chat if they coordinate their own Google Meet session.
Are they chatting in real time via text?
You can create a Chat activity in Moodle for students to conduct real-time (synchronous) text-based discussion.
Are they having an extended discussion over a longer period of time (asynchronously) such as a day or week?
You can use the Forum tool in Moodle to create a text-based discussion space.
Do their discussion posts need to be assessed or completion tracked?
You can use the Grade feature to apply a grade to student work in the forum, or you can set conditions for them to complete to receive credit for their contributions using the “Activity Completion” feature.
Strategy: A common strategy to promote generative discourse in an asynchronous discussion forum is to require students to submit one post in the discussion, and reply to at least two of their classmates’ posts.
4. Prompting reflective writing
Is it a single reflection, or a cumulative series of entries like a journal or weekly reflection?
If it is a serial reflection, either weekly or episodically, you may want to consider using a tool where their reflections can be kept together cohesively. Using Student Blogs makes it easy for students to keep their writing together and accessible sequentially (over time), or using other ways of organizing their reflections through thematic tagging. If the students need to add more iterative structure to their reflections, they can do so using their own Wiki, which can be used to compose entries on specific, indexable topics.
What style of writing do you want them to adopt?
Your students should know what standards of writing are expected of them in their reflective writing. For instance, do you want them to adhere to an academic style, with referencing? Or are you encouraging a more casual, informal reflective tone, perhaps encouraging candor?
Strategy: Set ground rules in the beginning of the semester and provide exemplary models of the style of writing you want your students to emulate.
Will their writing be assessed?
You can assess student writing in any of the above tools, using the Gradebook. See these helpful FAQs for Gradebook setup. Be clear with your students early on what the criteria for grading is, and provide a rubric if possible.
5. Enabling collaboration
- What kind of artifact would you like students to co-create?
- Do you want them to co-compose a piece of writing, or a formal report?
- What does the period of collaboration look like?
- Will it be a single engagement, or an iterative/cumulative project?
- Will it be assessed?
Some considerations and strategies:
Students can collaborate on a piece of writing using a shared Google Doc, and submit the link via the Assignments tool. (Assessment Tip: You can discern individual student contributions to a shared Google Doc via the “See Version History” feature.)
Students can co-create a Glossary using the Glossary tool in Moodle. You can determine what the team/group of students is, how long it is available for, and it can be optionally opened for feedback/comments.
If there are third party tools/platforms you’d like to use for collaborative work, consider GDPR concerns before asking students to post any work “off-Moodle”. (Steve would be happy to provide assistance!)
6. Creating assignments
Moodle’s Assignments tool has a great deal of features, and hence, might seem a bit daunting at first. But once you’ve created your first assignment, you’ll see it’s relatively straightforward to use. Your key considerations using the Assignments tool are:
- What is the assignment prompt?
- How are students turning in their work? (Are they submitting an attachment?)
- When and for how long is the assignment open for? When is it due, and can they still submit work after the due date?
- What kind of feedback will you give? Is it a checkbox, or will there be elaborated corrective feedback?
- How is the assignment factored into their grade? If ungraded, what accountability is in place?
You can view this concise tutorial on the Assignments tool for guidance on each of the above considerations.
7. Creating formative assessments
Formative assessment is helpful to keep students on track (self-assessment), as well as helpful for the instructor to gauge student comprehension.
The quiz tool in Moodle enables instructors to create quizzes comprising questions of various types, including multiple choice, matching, short-answer and numerical.
Each attempt is marked automatically, with the exception of essay questions, and the grade can be recorded in the gradebook. You can choose when and if hints, feedback and correct answers are shown to students.
Quizzes may be used: as module exams, as formative assessments for gauging comprehension, as exam practice using questions from past exams, or for self-assessment.
For guidance on using the Quiz tool, see this tutorial. In general, you’ll find it’s a two-step process to 1. Create your questions, and then 2. to create the quiz.
If you’d like to use a third-party tool for formative assessment, you can link to external resources in Moodle using the URL tool. If you have a specific platform or tool in mind, feel free to ask Steve for help in implementing it in your module.
General Moodle Tutorial
This was developed for Cairn University, but you’ll see that although their Moodle site looks slightly different to ours, all the features are very similar.
See the markers below for each section.
00:00:05 Getting Started with Moodle.
00:00:26 An Overview of the Moodle Dashboard and customizing the dashboard in Moodle.
00:08:48 General components of a course in Moodle.
00:12:54 Updating the course heading in Moodle
00:20:00 Uploading the course syllabus and the course lecture notes.
00:27:05 Configuring the Gradebook in Moodle
00:38:09 Posting Links to web resources in Moodle
00:44:39 Posting and embedding YouTube videos in a Course
00:49 Configuring regular assignments in a course in Moodle.
01:02:27 Grading regular papers in Moodle.
01:12:00 Grading papers and providing feedback via video and audio in Moodle.
Moodle Sandboxes for St. Nicholas Instructors
We have set up “sandbox” modules for instructors to experiment with any kind of Moodle activity or resource you’d like to try out. You will find the sandbox sites here. If you need to be added to one (or get your own), contact Steve.