Moodle Course Design

Photo: Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Montana, 2003 Attribution: Rmhermen at the English language Wikipedia

Recently I created an online course in Moodle.  I chose a topic that is pertinent to educators in Montana: the implementation and history of the Indian Education for All (IEFA) act.  The creation of the course required me to locate quality resources, videos, and to develop tasks, assessments, and rubrics to measure the level of understanding my students have achieved after completion of the modules.

My understanding of andragogy and adult learning theory was the primary foundation in regards to the various decisions I had to make when designing my course. First, I wanted the course to be asynchronous.  Students in the course would be people already familiar with education, and therefore would likely prefer a  course that is completed within their own timelines.  Additionally, I wanted to incorporate videos that invoked an emotional response, as transformative learning theory is a theory I consider whenever I make an educational decision.  The inclusion of the TED Talk called “Changing the Way We See Native Americans” by Matika Wilbur was deliberate as the emotional response invoked while watching the video will help educators change their frame of reference in relation to Native Americans.

As usual, I considered CARP design principle when designing the course.  I used the orange/blue theme available in Moodle as the contrast was sharper than the other themes. Alignment was mostly centered and left-justified.  Repetition was important to me, so each module begins with a little introduction, the objective of the module, and the tasks necessary to complete each module.  Finally, proximity was considered by choosing the left-to-right navigation model in Moodle rather than the vertical navigation model.  Often times, educators that use Moodle have difficulty with their courses looking like long overwhelming text-only documents, but I was able to adjust my proximity to avoid this.

I evaluated my use of cognitive, social, and instructor presence, as well.  I included resources that were cognitively-challenging, but integrated those resources in with other types of resources, such as timelines.  Social presence was included by implementing the use of forums for each module.  Finally, instructor presence was considered by including a teacher introduction block.  If the course were actually live, I would ensure that my presence is included by responding to students in the forums, and providing feedback on assignments.

Moodle can be a challenging program to learn, but I had some experience from using it in my blended learning sixth grade classroom.  As problems came up, such as glitches with not being able to use certain “assignment/resource” selections, I simply used a different option and made it work by using a link to the site I was needing the student to go to.  Moodle tutorials are available from a variety of educators, so simply Googling my problem was sufficient enough to bring up many resources on how to fix certain issues.

The most beneficial part of developing this course was the selection of quality resources and videos.  I did not realize just how much time it can take to evaluate resources thoroughly.  Sometimes it seems as if educators just link to resources without considering the amount of time it will take a student to read the resource, but I had the unique understanding of what it is like to both a graduate student and an educator with a limited time frame.  Because of my unique perspective, I was able to look at the resources I found and ask myself “What is really critical for my students to improve their understanding of the objective(s)?”, and select only the resources that are mandatory.

Out of all of the assignments I have completed in my Master’s program, I have enjoyed developing courses the most.  It is a beautiful blend of graphic design and content selection, and it makes me that much more passionate for my future career in Educational Technology.

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