Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Moodle Early Adopters

The notes below were taken from the views of the academics and course administrators who attended the BLE’s Moodle Early Adopters workshop. Some of the “Bad (and Ugly)” suggestions could be dealt with during staff development / training sessions and site/course design. The version of Moodle referred to here is 2.1.3 and any references to “Blackboard” relate to Blackboard 8.0.475. Attendees have been using Moodle since September 2011 (or later) - hence, they are still finding their way!

The Good
  • Intuitive and more user friendly for all users - less clicks to get where you’re going
  • Cleaner layout (provided it’s set up sensibly and concisely, avoiding the “scroll of death”)
  • Students like it better than Blackboard
  • The ability to change view
  • Easier to use - even self-taught; picture icons are very helpful e.g. open/closed eye
  • Cross browser support - doesn’t seem to cause as many issues as Blackboard
  • More locally-available technical support
  • Digitised readings on Moodle have worked well
  • Moodle 2 file upload is much easier than 1.9
  • good tool-set (activities) (more than just forums)
  • Better than Blackboard
    • chat-rooms (could be used for online office hours, library helpdesk, surgeries, etc)
    • more control over design
    • flat structure (everything visible)
    • conditions and completion tracking
  • Visually pleasing; more visual than text based
  • Integration of images and videos
  • The ability to see which participants are online
  • Editing all appears on one page
  • Accessible
  • Supports opportunities to teach in modules, blocks, topics
  • Forces academics to re-think course design
  • Good controlling and adaptive release features

The Bad (and Ugly)
  • Issues with the Discussion Forum
    • Would like to set up groups and use it for mailing lists
    • unclear which forum within a module you are getting an email from
    • you end up emailing separately as well as posting in Moodle
  • Navigation menu - expanding and collapsing, docking - seems like it’s not very clear how to do these
  • Finding the right module - how will they be categorised? It needs to be easy to find the current year’s modules but still have archive of previous year’s
  • Course format lends itself to clutter/scroll of death -> users need to understand how to expand and collapse topics
  • Can students update their own email address (they don’t like to check institutional email accounts)
  • Exporting a list of participants into .xls, etc - just having on screen is not so useful
  • Very first contact not too intuitive - rather technical language that you have to know e.g. “labels”
  • Worse than Blackboard
    • Quizzes
    • Some initial learning required
  • Pre-course access not really possible
  • Course list can become too long
  • Would like to log in first and then browse the list of courses (this is to do with how the institutional instance is set up)
  • Adding files is more complicated than Blackboard due to many more options and not enough explanation.
  • An issue with blog posts appearing on the site-wide block instead of just within the course
  • Where are user stats?
  • Audio and video files needs to be stored externally
  • Groups and Groupings is confusing

  • Unclear support for Moodle
  • Training required
  • Suggestion re icon and terminology
    • explanation; screenshots, screen recordings, text instructions - mixed approach
  • Vital to have fast registration - VLE access from Day 1
  • Support site within Moodle for
    • FAQs, Mini-Guides, etc
    • Link to webmail and other IT provisions
  • Difficult to get information architecture right
    • How do we get students to find and read all relevant info?
  • Quality Control? How?
  • Moodle offers more scope for improved communications, but it needs training
  • Would like to know how to easily combine links to readings with files containing digitised readings into one viewable place.
  • Increased flexibility of Moodle causes additional/new issues!
  • Course default settings need to be carefully selected
  • Use of WordPress inside Moodle would be good as a blogging tool
  • Batch uploading and the ability to move blocks of courseware around between modules on a programme would be good

  • Let us enrol staff in our courses
  • student access until a cut-off date (e.g. 3rd week)
  • “Pre-Module lobby area”
  • Export calendar to Outlook and Google; better: live sync
  • Assessment handling: bulk multiple file downloads, grade management
  • Would have liked to have had contact with more experienced users -> Faculty/departmental “champions”

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