Core Moodle features that make our @StraighterLine courses awesome

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In December we launched our new Moodle course platform for about 75 courses on Moodlerooms’ joule 2 software. Thanks to some great conversion work by Sam et al at Move2Moo (who successfully converted around 160,000 test bank items in six weeks) and a few extremely skilled staff members at StraighterLine we launched successfully and without any hiccups (or rather, none worth noting).

WIRIS

So far student feedback on the new system is positive and we are tweaking the system and configuration to continue improving and fine tuning the student experience. One thing we’ve found so far is that there are a lot of great core features in Moodle that can help make courses more attractive, more navigable, and more intuitive.

One of our transition goals at StraighterLine was to get parity of design, format and features between our two systems while introducing a simpler and integrated course and account management product called MyLine.  Basically MyLine is the student dashboard that lists all of their courses, tests, proctoring, books, purchases, invoices, subscription, transcripts and profile information required to make their time at StraighterLine fruitful as possible.  Clicking a course is what launches Moodle (previously account management and our LMS were not integrated).  Here’s a quick glance at the before/after of our courses in Blackboard 9.1 Learn and Moodle/joule 2:

Now that the integration is up and working and over 1000 students are logging in daily it’s time to improve upon parity.  Here are a few of the core features from Moodle 2.3 (what is available to us through Moodlerooms which is on a 6 month delay from the core release schedule).

Each Topic as it’s own page: This simple course format change really, really improves the look and feel of Moodle.  I asked for it a year ago and am quite happy with how it improves navigating courses.

HTML blocks: we’ve made a quick HTML block that helps to mirror the navigation of the student profile in MyLine, it keeps the navigation consistent and because of the SSO we have between systems returns students to the right place when they click a menu option.

LTI: we’re using this more and more and the content publishing partners that use this are finding that it’s great.  A link, secret key and password allow for all sorts of great integrations to display student content, to allow their access of services all with a consistent look and feel and no need to develop custom code as blocks or plugins.

Quizzes: I mentioned the 160,000 test bank items.  We provide students with ample opportunity for practice examinations and then assess them quantitatively through examinations and quizzes.  Using core features we’re able to deploy test banks across multiple courses, to make corrections and QA banks without disrupting student progress or scores and to provide a secure test environment with proctoring.  While the quizzes are time consuming to setup and configure (too many clicks!) so far our experience has been positive vs some known issues with a similar deployment on Blackboard Learn that caused student discontent with page load times and errors.

Labels: Finally, labels.  We use these to dress up the courses and provide students instructions on what they should be doing.  Without a label course just look like a series of links.  A label can provide context, information and encouragement easily to students. If you haven’t read it yet, this is a great resource that helps to highlight the value of labels in a Moodle course: http://www.packtpub.com/article/moodle-makeover.