Management programs 2015

BACKGROUND

To improve the student experience with our blended pedagogy, over Summer 2015 the MDO/MBA programs undertook a broad review of the student experience with Moodle. Our process included program-wide discussions, identification of best practices across the curriculum, and a student task force.

Our goal was to develop a set of learner-centric standards for Moodle use in the MDO/MBA programs that could be easily and clearly followed by the faculty. We hope that these standards will become part of faculty orientation and faculty coaching sessions, and will continue to evolve over time.

Beyond all the specific suggestions, there was a meta-concern for consistency across courses, and a call for a universal framework followed by all faculty members. Students also suggested that an explicit discussion of online norms should be held in every class, and consolidated in a “class charter.”

Students also called for stronger faculty training and ongoing faculty support for clear and consistent Moodle use.

Students also emphasized that Moodle is very important part of the overall Marlboro experience. “Moodle makes or breaks the education,” one student said. “Hour-for-hour, it is where most learning happens.” The Moodle interface should be easy to navigate so that the platform itself doesn’t become a distraction from – or even an obstacle to – good learning.

To move in the direction of consistency and ease-of-use, while also addressing some specific student concerns, we have created this set of learner-centric standards for Moodle use.

 

TOP 5 MOODLE TIPS

 

 

  • MOODLE CHARTER: Agree as a class on Moodle norms and expectations binding faculty & students. Codify norms in a Moodle Charter that is posted in the top block near the syllabus.

 

  • SHOW STUDENTS WHERE THE CLASS IS HEADED: Have at least 3 weeks ahead visible to students. Students prefer to see the entire class if possible.
  • CONSISTENT DEADLINES: Use Sunday evening @ 11:55 pm as the default deadline for all assignments.
  • ASSIGNMENT FUNCTION: Use the official “Assignments” function for all work students will submit. Check the settings: allow late submissions, allow multiple attachments, set deadline to Sunday evening at 11:55 pm, use your class number as the prefix for the assignment name (eg “MDO615 Term Paper.”
  • EASE UP FOR RESIDENCIES: Lighten the load right before/after residencies. For example, do not require any forum postings earlier than the Wednesday following a residency weekend.

 

DETAILED SUGGESTIONS

Goals

  • Moodle should be a “one-stop shop” with all material related to a course in one well-organized place.
  • Moodle should enrich the learning experience. The platform should never distract from or stand in the way of engaged learning.

Syllabus

  • Post a definitive syllabus posted within the top box on the day the trimester begins.
  • Make clear to students which version of the syllabus is definitive (text or Moodle). We recommend that Moodle is the definitive version.
  •   

Norms

  • Take time together as a class (face-to-face or in an introductory forum) to agree on Moodle norms and expectations.
  • Develop norms for: faculty and student participation timeliness of student and faculty responses, length of posts, norms for online facilitation, confidentiality, expectations re grammar and spelling, what will happen if norms are broken, etc.
  • Suggestions for norms:
    • As a general guideline, the teacher should engage in online discussions as often and as thoroughly as they expect each student to engage.
    • Faculty and students should be proactive in communicating any anticipated absences or black-out times when they will not be available online.
    • We recommend a stance of compassionate accountability with regards to late submissions. Instead of completely disallowing late submissions, consider penalizing late submissions or allowing students to drop 1 assignment without penalty. Specify rules regarding late assignments in the syllabus.
  • Consolidate norms in a “class charter” for online learning.
  • Post the class charter in the top box.

Sections

  • Each week of the trimester should be given its own section.
  • Weeks should be dated to run Monday to Sunday.
  • Students like to see/plan ahead. Have a minimum of 3 weeks in advance visible, and remember for students, more is better.
  • Highlight the current week (use the lightbulb feature).
  • Collapse weeks for easy scrolling.

Formatting within Week

  • Preview of the Week (could be separate word document)
  • Reading
  • Forum
  • Assignment

Color coding and graphics

  • As a general principle: Students like a ‘clean’ or uncluttered Moodle space.
  • Keep color coding simple. Use no more than 3 colors. We recommend keeping text black and highlighting as follows:

o   Blue: Reading

o   Yellow: Forum

o   Red: Assignment

  • A single image per week can help break up the text and will engage visual learners. Using a consistent formatting (size, placement) for the image will keep the overall look neat.
  • Things to avoid:

o   red/green contrast (not visible to 10% of male population)

o   red caps: students say it looks “angry”

o   graphics for graphics sake or a hodge-podge of images

 

Scheduling & Deadlines

  • Default due date: Sunday evening @ 11:59 pm. Students appreciate consistency/ predictability in due dates, and when polled prefer Sunday night as the default deadline.
  • Special consideration for residency weeks:

o   Workload should be lighter on residency weeks

o   Assignments for residency week due Wednesday @ 11:59 pm (before residency)

o   As a courtesy, give students a couple days off (Monday/Tuesday) after residency; no forum posts due until Wednesday.

  • As a guideline, give a minimum of 2 weeks notice for a newly-posted assignment.

Assignments

  • Use Assignment function (icon is hand holding paper) for work students will submit. If you use the Assignments function, students can see it in their cross-class agenda of assignments.
  • Default deadline should be Sunday @ 11:59 pm (or in the pre-residency week, Wednesday @ 11:59 pm).
  • Set assignments to accept multiple files, in case students need to attach more than one file.
  • Set assignments to accept late files, so students are not locked out. (This may save you hassles later on; assignments will still be date-stamped so you’ll know if they were on time or late)
  • Naming assignments: Please use Course abbreviation at head of assignment, eg “PLD Learning Journal” or “N&W Marcom Plan.” That way students can make sense of it when they see it in their cross-class assignment list.
  • Put assignment guidelines within the Moodle Assignment dialogue box, so that the instructions are in the most obvious and intuitive place for students. Students appreciate as much clarity as possible for each assignment, including some indication of the expected level of effort (eg # of pages or hours of work) and a clear description of what excellent work on this assignment would look like.

Forums

  • Give consideration to which type of forum to use. If you are not sure, consult with a faculty mentor or academic tech. Unless you have a special reason to use a different forum type, we recommend the “Single Simple Discussion.”
  • Have learning objectives in mind for online discussions, and a clear intention for the discussions to enrich student learning. Never let discussions become busywork.
  • Match student participation in forums with your own teacherly presence.
  • Consider a 2-week cycle for forum discussions. Week 1: initial posts, Week 2: respond to others. This could work especially well in 1-credit classes.
  • As a courtesy, give students a couple days off (Monday/Tuesday) after residency; no forum posts due until Wednesday.

 

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