Course Design: Discover


3 August 2011




The ‘high expectations’ set for this design task really challenged my thinking and skills. Moodle is a LMS that I use regularly, but prior experience seemed of little advantage when it came to meeting the design specifications for the project and creating my Discovercourse.

Over the past two months, I have endeavoured to build HTML pages from scratch, and use some standards and technologies from the UBC E-Learning Toolkit.  In the end, Discover has evolved to be a far more customised HTML course site than I would have been able to design previously. Moodle makes it easy to just load up some web pages and pictures and consider a course done. This project has forced me to think about customising Moodle to give a better experience for learners.

Apart from customing pages in Moodle, this project has required me to design learning outcomes, an instructional approach, as well as all content and assessments.  The project didn’t draw on an existing course, I’ve built one from scratch.

Thanks go to the ETEC565A 66C community for helping me to advance my design skills in areas of:
– graphics
– HTML tables
– hyperlinks (linking elements across modules/pages of a course – Ken Buis)
– ‘combo’ HTML pages incorporating different types of content and resources, as appear in the Study Guides in my course (bug decoding – Ken Buis)
– selective release of course content (link reference supplied by Ken Buis)

I need more time to create rollover graphics, but that’s on my to do list.

Moodle’s social tools and quizzes were relatively easy to configure for tasks and assessments. But the big challenge was to develop a ‘selective release’ module, something I’ve never done before. I did know about hiding modules, and hiding elements within modules, and using the ‘highlight’ feature to make a module visible to users, but I had no idea about the ‘common module’ feature and how to program for selective release of content.

The E-Learning Toolkit helped me to produce ‘quality’ web design. I followed the recommendations in the Toolkit and removed some mentions of “welcome” from my course site (although I still like welcome for learners of fully online courses). I also paid attention to text width, ensuring the width of text on Moodle labels was limited to a range between 5% left margin and 15% right margin, so the text would be easy to read. Many HTML pages were built with similar text width limitations. My header images have a width of 750px, which is slightly too wide, but these contain minimal text, so I have let them be. I need to remember in future that this may pose a problem for mobile devices, and 700px is a maximum.

I noted the accessibility advice in the E-Learning Toolkit, and wanted to develop tables with TH code, but couldn’t figure out how to incorporate those commands with the other code I had to include with table design. Hence, the end result was to stick with the tables as they were. I have ensured images have ‘alternate text’ so this is one step in the direction of ensuring access for people with disabilities.

The multimedia tools that were trialed and used to create content were Voki (text-to-speech avatar software) and Stupeflix (digital story). I had no knowledge of either of these technologies prior to starting this project and it’s exciting to see the end results. There will be another Voki added to the course ‘conclusion’ page.

In the final days of course design, I tested the course on Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers and I also tested the site on an i-Pad. I was very happy with the way the course appeared on an i-Pad as Moodle’s tabs format works well with i-Pad screens.  I have not yet managed to locate someone with an i-Phone to test user experience of the course on that type of mobile device.

The Discover course is currently 80% complete so if bits appear to be missing, please don’t be surprised. For ETEC565A assessment purposes, I would like Topic 3 and Topic 4 to be assessed as fully completed modules, and Topic 2 as the selective release module (linked to completion of activities in Topic 1).

At the commencement of study for ETEC 565A, my flight path had stated: “My LMS goal for ETEC 565A is to explore functions of Moodle that I am not so familiar with, which means social interaction in modes other than text (to account for different learning styles and Web 2.0 communication) and to learn about SCORM and software integration. I am curious about Moodle 2.0.”

I can definitely say that some of my personal goals for Moodle have been achieved.

Thanks to everyone for helping me and helping us all to meet this design challenge. Special thanks to Ken Buis who helped me with sticky bits and thanks to those who found the selective release clues, and thanks to everyone who encouraged me and responded to my queries.

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