This post is cross-posted at Kristian Still’s personal blog, a great resource for Moodle tips and educational technology links [link].

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I have spent a fair amount of time reflecting on course design and why the gradebook is somewhat of a late bloomer, in terms of Moodle core features. I don’t mean to harp on about gradebooks, but if you do think there is something in ‘gradebook inspired Moodle course design’ then here seven course design tips for you to consider.

Effective Course Design in Seven Steps

  1. Think about a completed course, not the course you are about to build. What does it look like? Sketch it out. What outcomes do you wish the students to reach (include a total possible points and schedule of assessment so you can better plan how your gradebook will “add up”).
  2. Don’t be put off by the gradebook, simply leave all the setting as ‘default’  or set the aggregation to ‘sum of grades.’ It is how many educators calculate grades (this will help #1 ensure your course adds up).
  3. Design and build the gradebook, weighting the categories. Add outcomes and scales at this point also, you don’t have to use them if you don’t want to.
  4. How will learning be measured? What are the assessments opportunities, for both learner engagement and administration. Where and how can Moodle accelerate learning? Make best use of self, peer and automated assessment (quizzes) and the use of dynamic  content (RSS), collaboration, chats.  If you’re going to give participation/quality points for activities understand that many of the Moodle activities require manually marking of students.
  5. Apply an easy marking scheme, e.g. assignments 0/20, learning tasks 0/10 or award marks available as a reflection of time invested. 30 minutes 0/30 and hours task 0/60.
  6. Schedule ‘air blocks’ into the course. Opportunities to allow learners to catch up, for revision, to retake quizzes, for diversion or even self-directed learning.
  7. Design the learning pathway(s). How will the learn progress through the categories and order the gradebook.

With your gradebook built, your categories ordered, your course frame built, at that point you can apply the best practices for course design and aesthetics.  Planning ahead will allow you to focus on designing great learning assets and engaging learning pathways.

Helpful gradebook links:

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