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.

Andragogy: Definitions and Criticisms

The world of education has never been without change.  Inevitably, change often produces criticism as people challenge the changes against their own frame of reference.  Andragogy is yet another educational term that has a variety of viewpoints, but first, one has to understand what andragogy is.

Andragogy was a term developed by Malcolm Knowles in 1992.  The term focused specifically on adult learning, and covered six key concepts: the adult’s “need to know, self-concept, experience, readiness to learn, orientation to learning, and motivation to learn” (Stravredes, 2011, pg. 13-14).  Essentially, adult educators could use information gathered about the adult learner to frame the course in a manner that would provide most benefit to the adult learner (Stravredes, 2011).

Given that my undergraduate degree is in K-12 education, I was very familiar with the term pedagogy.  Therefore, my frame of reference includes a “pedagogical lens”.  I am able to reframe the information about andragogy and connect the key points to what I already know about pedagogy.  One of the strategies often suggested in pedagogy is a learning inventory.  This learning inventory or survey can provide the educator with an idea of the child’s educational background, attitude, and interests.  Andragogy’s concepts are very similar to the questions many teachers familiar with pedagogy already ask students, such as: “What do you love to learn about?”, “Why do you enjoy learning?”, “What subjects do you like? Why?”, for example.

As a future adult educator, it is evident that many adults may not be interested in doing an inventory that is so basic.  Therefore, I will need to adapt my questions, and perhaps include them as questions related to introducing one’s self to the class.  I can already see that my professors do this very thing when asking me what my professional background is, and then commenting on how my professional background can help the course.  In online learning, I have seen questionnaires used to gather information related to the andragogical concepts, and, although I do not see what the educator does behind the scenes, I am certain that the information gathered is used to benefit the learners

Now that a basic understanding of andragogy has been established, one can begin to review criticisms related to the term.  Many critics has expressed concerned  that andragogy cannot be considered scientific as it is not measurable (Taylor & Kroth, 2009).  While educators do tend to lean more toward scientific principles that are easily measured, I view andragogy as more of an idea.  Ideas are not easily measured, and therefore, andragogy and pedagogy both could fit into the realm of “non-measurable”.  What an educator chooses as the best educational theory to employ while considering andragogy or pedagogy is likely to be the key element that is measurable.  For example, a survey could be performed to evaluate learner satisfaction related to the educator’s use of objectives and standards to explain content relevance.  The actions an educator uses within the scope of andragogy are what should be measured, not the term.

Another criticism is whether andragogy only applies to adult learners (Taylor & Kroth, 2009).  I actually think andragogy could definitely relate to childhood education.  One of the most frequent questions I heard while teaching sixth grade is “Why do I need to know this?”.  It is evident from that question that adults are not the only age group that desire a clear “need to know”.  I think it important to remember that every learner is original, and it is impossible to meet the needs of every learner by using only certain andragogical and pedagogical theories.  This is why a learning inventory is important; educators need to know the learners in order to meet the needs of the entire class as a whole.

In summary, andragogy is another frame of reference to look at a learner, and it is hard to research the effectiveness of simply defining andragogy.  The methods and theories employed by the educator should be the measurable components, not the definition of the term.


Stavredes, T. (2011). Effective online teaching: Foundations and strategies for student success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Taylor, B. & Kroth, M. (2009). Andragogy’s transition into the future: Meta-analysis of andragogy and its search for a measurable instrument. Journal of Adult Education, 38(1). Retrieved from /content/14/Taylor_Kroth_2009.pdf