Moodle Course Design – What is best practice?

This is a question I ponder over and over as I work with Moodle.  I have used Moodle in at least four different educational contexts now and each has presented different challenges and needs as far as teaching and learning goes but the same question always comes up… what is best practice in Moodle?  What does it look like?

The common problems I see with the integration of Moodle in educational institutes is that it is used more as a content management system or a cloud file repository than it is used as a learning management system.  File dumping and link loading is not learning!  Learning needs to be interactive, reflective, collaborative and progressive.  All too often, educators simply do not move beyond loading files and links in Moodle and into using the more interactive features, which so easily create opportunities for students to self-direct and regulate their own learning.  I want to help the staff at my current school and my colleagues on PLANE understand better, how to use Moodle to their advantage.

Many blog posts and presentations have been shared in the last few years on this very subject, including: Moodle Course Design: a high-wire act, Moodle course design made simple and Designing aesthetically pleasing Moodle courses.  I tend to stick to a very simple way of delivering content and activities in Moodle, which is shown below.

Moodle course design

I like to use the horizontal line <hr/> in Moodle course topics to break up the summary section for the topic with the tasks and resources for the topic.  It is a simple way of indicating at first glance what students will need to use or do.

I love the course formats for Collapsed topics, Grid format, Tabs topic format, and Onetopic format.  These topic formats significantly reduce the dreaded ‘scroll-of-death’ or SOD.  My main aim in course design is to reduce the impact of the interface on the cognitive load of learners and I feel that by utilising these types of course formats I can achieve that better.

Mark Drechsler of NetSpot, writes blog posts that I definitely resonate with and his post on Moodle course design is no exception.  His presentation in the blog post Moodle course design made simple, talks about Moodle courses creating a learning pathway.  I try and do that in all the courses I design and it comes across too linear to some, however, I believe it is an effective scaffold for guiding learners through structured learning activities.

Janetta Garton writes the blog post Designing aesthetically pleasing Moodle courses and she makes some extremely valuable points about Moodle course design that I already try to incorporate into what I do and some that I could be developing better.  Blocking content is a very important point and I have made use of the Book module on many occasions and find it an effective resource for delivering content in a user-friendly way.

Some greats points to consider….


7 thoughts on “Moodle Course Design – What is best practice?

  1. Kristen,

    Enjoyed your blog post. Recently I’ve changed some strategies and no longer hide links in a hidden topic and then link to them in various points throughout the course.

    I’ve found it much hard to maintain a course set up this way. Also, with Moodle 2.3 I like using the course layout setting that allows you have only one topic appear at a time (Show one section per page). This helps me avoid a very loooong homepage for a course. This year when we upgraded and changed our domain/web address for our Moodle, it broke all those links within my courses that pointed to internal items in the course. This resulted in a tremendous amount of work, which I still haven’t finished. So I no longer recommend to my teachers that they created hidden topics/section and link to the contained resources and activities throughout their course.

    There’s a great video from Michelle Moore, Teaching with Moodle: Best Practices in Course Design, that I would recommend.


    • Thanks for sharing your experiences with me Janetta. I have worked on a project where Moodle was used with orphaned activities that were linked to and yes it is a lot harder to maintain. My biggest issue at the moment is getting my colleagues to think about using Moodle sections/topics for topics or concept areas that might be taught one after the other, a more logical progression, and not just dumping files and links to all resources ever in each. This is proving rather hard though. Will keep working on it 🙂

  2. Pingback: Moodle Course Design – What is best practice? | Kristina Hollis | elearning stuff |

  3. Pingback: Moodle Course Design – What is best practice? | Kristina Hollis | Technology Advances |

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  6. Is Moodle a good platform for delivering training content. I am thinking of creating a course on Technical Writing (text, visuals and videos) or should I go the Udemy way? Do you suggest a good open source alternative.

    Many thanks!

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