Aims of our talk
At last year’s UK Moot we were excited by the discussions and ideas that were generated between HE institutions. This year we hope the event provokes similar debate and we emerge with plans and community projects which will improve the learning environments we are creating. Our long-term aim is to shape Moodle into a product which meets our shared needs and drive developments into Moodle core which will benefit our institutions.
Our talk will focus on some of the developments the University of Sussex has been engaging in over the last 5 years and some which we will be engaging in the near future and we hope others get involved.
At the University of Sussex we have been running an institution-wide Moodle install since 2006. As of the 2010/2011 academic year we have over ten thousand staff and students coming to our site per week (seven thousand most week days). Eighty per cent of Sussex course modules have an online site to support its cohort’s learning, which is almost two-thousand online Moodle sites.
Our students have committed their time and money to their studies. They deserve high quality support activities and materials, including those made available to them via online sites and its our job to make sure they get it.
Our tutors are great, long-suffering and working in uncertain and stressful times. Despite their best efforts they are frustrated that Moodle can still make it difficult for them to produce course websites of the quality they would wish.
Our install of Moodle at Sussex is :
- not the only website our users visit
- not the website our users visit the most
- not the website our users interact with the most
- not the only website at Sussex which provides student data (degree time-tables, grades and feedback are accessed through the managed learning environment)
Our course site designers are busy academics for whom teaching is only part of their role and developing teaching support materials such as their Moodle site is only part of their teaching commitment.
The implications of this
Most tasks our users perform in Moodle they also carry out with other applications or websites, but the workflow patterns they need to learn in order to use Moodle are unfamiliar to them. By tweaking these Moodle patterns to be more similar to those used by other websites we find we are often able to improve our users’ experience of Moodle.
(Not included in our talk)
In order to do this we apply a user-centered design approach, asking the users to design the system they need. We do user testing, design, and iterate until we developed a solution intuitive enough to need minimal help and documentation.
- Integrate lots of institutional data which requires extending Moodle to hold this data
- Include customisations of Moodle interface to improve its navigability when:
- Creating course sites and learning activities as a tutor
- Interacting with sites as a student
Some of these will be presented in the talk, others we have talked about on our Sussex elearning team blog.
The Future of Moodle?
Moodle needs to become a system which is more intuitive for students and busy academics to use. It must evolve to make it simpler to produce high quality, easy-to-use course websites and learning activities. It must adopt similar patterns of interaction and workflows that people using the web today are familiar with.
Check out our Sussex elearning team blog to get more information about Moodle at Sussex.
Paolo Oprandi, Educational Technologist and Systems Developer, University of Sussex
Stuart Lamour, E-Learning Developer, University of Sussex
Carol Shergold, Head of Learning Systems, University of Sussex
John Davies, Education Developer, University of Sussex