In the Cascade project we are in the middle of an intensive period of testing Moodle templates with departmental staff. In the terms of our project the “templates” are Moodle courses with certain core materials and structures already in place which hopefully offer the following benefits to our staff:
- Save them from recreating the wheel in terms of identifying resources, links etc
- Ensuring all expectation setting and contextual materials are in place – what is unacceptable online behavior? does an online course support site mean my tutor will answer my emails 24 hours a day?
- Improving chance of producing something which will be truly valuable to students from the start, rather than having to try and work out what might be useful from scratch.
We have shaped the templates from the results of our pilots over the last year or so as well as our experience in learning design and from the literature more generally . With this in mind we were pretty confident that the elements we were including were likely to be appropriate and useful, however it is fascinating to actually work through the process with practitioners.
I think what has really changed in the last few years is the baseline awareness of the sorts of things technology might be able to offer to support a course – this has moved on immensely even in the last couple of years – even if staff are not always confident of how to get the technology to do what they want. It also feels like for many academics that their perceptions of their IT competence is often worse than the reality. Moodle is easy enough to use, that if you can add an attachment to an email you really should be able to get pretty far.