If you are new to Moodle, you may see a empty course site and feel at a loss for where to begin. That’s why we’ve worked with faculty who have had success teaching with Moodle to compile some recommendations on best practices. You can use these best practices to build a straightforward, effective course site.
Your Moodle Course: A Dynamic Syllabus
Faculty experience, student surveys, and our understanding of Moodle all suggest that one of the most effective ways to use a Moodle course site is as a dynamic, interactive version of your course syllabus. In Moodle terms, this means grouping readings, activities, and instructions in topical sections down the center of the main course area in a linear, chronological fashion. This format has a number of benefits:
- It is easy for students to see what they are expected to accomplish during a specific block of time, as well as let them get a broad sense of the expectations for the whole course.
- It groups assignments, quizzes, and other activities directly with relevant readings, links, and other resources. Students work directly in the context of the topics they are learning about.
- It works well if you know you’ll have a few weeks or more of course material mapped out before the semester begins.
What Does a Dynamic Syllabus Approach Look Like in Practice?
Anyone who has requested a Moodle course site has access to our sample course, Introduction to Cryptozoology.
You can access the course directly at: https://moodle.umass.edu/course/view.php?id=2758 (you’ll be asked to sign into Moodle if you aren’t signed in already).
Is the Dynamic Syllabus Format Appropriate for All Courses?
We developed our sample course as a showcase for what we thought a well-organized 100-level Moodle course could look like. This particular example assumes that most of the course material and course work will have some representation in Moodle, but many faculty only use Moodle to supplement or focus on a particular part of the course, such as readings or quizzes. Higher-level classes may have a less strictly-chronological format, as students could be expected to explore and return to different resources or activities throughout the course.
Moodle is a powerful, flexible tool, but it should be used only to the extent that it enhances and supports your teaching and your students’ learning, not to add unnecessary complication and frustration.
The Instructional Media Lab is always ready and willing to assist you with setting up your course in Moodle. Contact us at email@example.com or 545-2823 for assistance and advice. To get started on your own, check out A Guide to Building a New Course in Moodle.