Arts Faculty Forum Moodle Workshop

Chloe Roberts Arts Faculty Chair

Chloe Roberts
Arts Faculty Chair

On Tuesday 18th Nov the TEL team were invited by Chloe Roberts, Faculty Chair for Arts, to attend their Faculty Forum and facilitate some discussion & activities around the use of Moodle in the Faculty of Arts.

Roisin, Daniel & I facilitated three separate discussions in order to get feedback from the student reps, but also to raise their awareness of some of the existing work being done by the TEL team. The three discussions were:

  1. Minimum Expectations in Moodle (Phil)
  2. Stop-Start-Continue (Roisin)
  3. Moodle Activities & Resources (Daniel)

Minimum Expectations in Moodle

The primary aim of the YSJ TEL Quality Framework is to facilitate and encourage a consistent and well considered approach to the use of Technology Enhanced Learning across the University.

The quality statements relate to firstly a set of minimum expectations, and secondly ideas that would further develop learning and teaching activities involving the use of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL).

The statements are intended to establish a minimum standard in the use of a particular technology/tool and to ensure a consistent student experience. They are also intended to support tutors by providing examples of how to move beyond the minimum expectations towards the University’s vision of creating an exceptional student experience. The minimum expectation statements could be expressed as the lowest standard expected regardless of whether that particular technology is used to enhance, extend or empower students’ and their learning.

Over the coming academic year we will be looking to review the TEL Quality Framework, and with it the minimum expectations for VLE use. We’ll be evaluating the impact the Framework has had to date, investigating sector-wide subscription to minimum standards and existing research, benchmarking ourselves against the research, and consulting with staff & students on their perceptions of the minimum expectations for the future.

To carry out this work we have recruited a student researcher through the ADD Students as Researchers Scheme, but this was an opportunity to get some quick initial feedback from the Faculty of Arts reps. The reps were asked to identify specific elements that should be included in the VLE Minimum Expectations, they were presented with a list of items (as follows) and asked to select 10:

  • Dedicated Course for Each Module
  • Module Description/Outline (Learning Outcomes, Credits etc.)
  • Staff Profiles & Contact Details (Module Leader)
  • Staff Profiles & Contact Details (Teaching Staff)
  • Assessment Details/Requirements
  • Assessment Marking/Grading Criteria
  • Online Submission for Coursework
  • Draft Assignment (Formative) Feedback
  • Recommended/Further Reading List
  • Module Timetable
  • Lecture Notes/Handouts
  • Announcements
  • Forums (Q&A/Learning Forums)
  • Sample Exam Questions/Past Papers (Where Appropriate)
  • Plagiarism Information
  • Library Information
  • Student Support Information
  • Student Expectations Statement
  • Feedback/Suggestions/Report Issues
  • Student Activity Reports

The chart below shows how the reps (n=18) responded:

What would you like to see included in the VLE Minimum Expectations?

What would you like to see included in the VLE Minimum Expectations?

It’s clear that the reps valued certain things over the others:

  • Assessment Marking/Grading Criteria (100%)
  • Assessment Details/Requirements (89%)
  • Module Timetable (78%)
  • Lecture Notes/Handouts (78%)
  • Module Description/Outline (Learning Outcomes, Credits etc.) (67%)
  • Online Submission for Coursework (67%)
  • Dedicated Course for Each Module (61%)
  • Draft Assignment (Formative) Feedback (61%)
  • Staff Profiles & Contact Details (Teaching Staff) (56%)
  • Feedback/Suggestions/Report Issues (56%)

Some of us take these things for granted, or as a given, but many of the reps commented on how often these kinds of things aren’t available in their courses, or are too difficult to find. Many of the reps also commented that they’d have liked to choose more than 10 options, and that all 20 of these items should be in every course where applicable. It will be interesting to explore this further with our student researcher in January.

Stop-Start-Continue

This activity asked the reps to feed back on what they would like to see stopped, started and continued in Moodle. Reps submitted their responses via a Textwall and Roisin was on hand to follow-up and draw out detail on specific comments.

The slides below show all of the reps’ Textwall comments:

Download (PDF)

Cluttered layout and poor design of course pages were chief amongst the practices the reps would like to see stopped. Suggestions included minimising the weekly content to avoid scrolling through a long page of links or obscuring valuable resources. Our changing to a new course layout skills sheet demonstrates how to change a Moodle course to a section layout. This creates an index page for the course, where students can pick the relevant topic/section/week to open and view.

There was clear enthusiasm for uploading the lecture or seminar materials before the session so students know what to expect that week/from the semester. As noted in Phil’s exercise, students’ current experience of this is inconsistent; top of some ‘Start’ lists was to generally see tutors start to use Moodle more and to continue using it  through the semester.

A few reps reported positive experiences of using forums. They’d like to see their continued and increased use across modules as a means of facilitating discussion, sharing resources between seminars and building community. More interactive activities was a common request, with a couple of caveats: one rep felt that Moodle activities set between sessions were valuable, but was frustrated where the links between those activities and the lecture/seminar focus were not made clear; another felt their frequency should be considered, as too many per week was off-putting.

The reps also approach Moodle as a core communication tool. They’re keen to see continued use of the tutorial booker; integration with their student timetable; and use of the announcements feature to inform them of any ammendments to the course or the official timetable.

Moodle Activities & Resources

In this discussion Daniel wanted to get a feel for the types of activities & resources that the reps have come across in their time using Moodle. The power of Moodle goes far beyond using it just as a repository for course resources and lecture notes. It can be used for quizzes, forums, glossaries, formative assessment, wikis etc.

The chart below shows the activities [A] and resources [R] that students had used on some of their courses in Moodle:

MoodleAR

Moodle Activities [A] & Resources [R] Used by Students

You can see from the graph that Resources such as Files, URLs, Pages & Books dominate the most widely used features of Moodle. Activities such as Wikis, Glossary, Workshop, Quiz, which have been identified by current research to have an impact on student success in an online course, go largely underused, or unused at all.

The 3E Framework, part of the TEL Quality Framework, is based on a tried and tested Enhance-Extend-Empower continuum for using technology to effectively support learning, teaching and assessment. The three broad stages of the continuum are:

  • Enhance – Adopting technology in simple and effective ways to actively support students and increase their activity and self-responsibility.
  • Extend – Further use of technology that facilitates key aspects of students’ individual and collaborative learning and assessment through increasing their choice and control.
  • Empower – Developed use of technology that requires higher order individual and collaborative learning that reflect how knowledge is created and used in professional environments.

Here are some ideas about how you might meaningfully incorporate the use of some of Moodle’s activities into the 3E element of the TEL Quality Framework:

[gview file=”http://blog.yorksj.ac.uk/moodle/files/2014/04/3E-Activity-Mapping.pdf”]

Thanks to Chloe for inviting us along to facilitate these discussions, if you have any questions or thoughts then please use the comments below, or contact TEL@yorksj.ac.uk.

Phil, Roisin & Daniel

Phil Vincent

Phil’s focus is to work across Faculties to support the implementation of the Academic Strategy, and in particular contribute to the effective development and implementation of technology enhanced learning.

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