Welcome to my Moodle Moot 2014 Presentation.


The College of Asia and the Pacific at ANU is known for it’s creative approach to the support and professional development of academics using Moodle. However like many other units supporting academics we are faced with the sad reality that, although some sites are designed in a clear and organized way, others clearly show that “scroll of death” is alive and kicking, especially among the “low tech” segment of our teaching staff. It is the old problem: easy to preach to the converted, but not so easy to change the way people do things - simply because it all seems way too hard. Students clearly tell us what is needed to improve the design and ultimately the usability of courses, but getting the message across sometimes is not straightforward. This is particularly the case when, like many teaching institutions, staff are appointed at the last minute and technology training competes with all other aspects of academic life. The other problem facing us now is that the new version of Moodle allows drag and drop even in the main page, so dragging everything in a mad scramble filling topics to the brim is far too easy, and the revenge of the scroll of death is upon us! So SMART (Sustainable Models for Adaptive and Responsive Teaching) was born . The idea is simple, instead of giving lecturers an empty Moodle site, give them a template with a choice of 3 ways to organize their site with an inbuilt “how to” guide and links to fully developed sample sites. This presentation will explain how the idea started, how it is implemented and the results so far."

How did the idea started

In the last couple of years the College of Asia and the Pacific at ANU has made a priority to increase the level of sophistication in the use of our LMS (Moodle), however offering workshops, training, one to one and drop in sessions had a limited impact in improving the ways some academics were using Moodle. We needed to find other avenues to catch those who did not attend training or wait till the very last minute to engage with the use of the LMS in their teaching. We noticed that some people were happy to follow some example/ideas if provided and actually one of most common question often was "can I see how others are using Moodle".

With the move to Moodle 2.5 we decided to capitalize on a couple of new key features:
1) In built help menus
2) duplicator of resources and activities

By creating a template with 3 fully organized set of "looks" we hoped to gradually move people away from the "dump and run" scenario that we could see coming with the drag and drop feature in the new Moodle. We embedded step by step instructions via the glossary that nicely displays like an inbuilt help and partially completed Book modules and Page module templates as well as assignments. Lastly we provided fully developed "sample" sites to give an idea about the possibilities.

How are we implementing it

From semester 1 in 2014 all new courses are given the SMART Template instead of an empty site. We have worked closely with our IT department and they have also become Moodle support people giving us more personnel on deck to show academics how the SMART Template works.
We have organized the Template so that our preferred way of organizing the course (Book module) is the first one academics see and putting last the one we are discouraging them from using (Topic option). We continued with the one to one and drop ins but we are not doing as many workshops as before. We have observed that large workshops are not as valuable or effective as the embedded help and short one to one help when needed. In semester 2 we have revised the Template eliminating completely the Topic option but we kept instructions for it just in case.

What results we had so far

Since last year we have conducted an audit of sites twice a year to collect data to see what effect both the investment in Digital Learning in CAP and the use of the template are having. Data is still not complete at this stage but from the day to day work with academics it is clear that both our support system and the templates have made a significant difference. Academics are more aware about the design of their sites and have began to realize the importance of courses that are developed with users (students) in mind. The Book module is taking hold and as we suspected being the first option they see most just say "this will do" and just begin to use it. We have also noted far less people panicking when they get a new site as it is not empty and daunting.

Take Away lessons:

  • Do the most with what you have instead of complaining about what you don't have
  • Help people to become self sufficient by providing different ways to learn new skills and ideas
  • Work closely with your IT department as they can be a valuable source of help in busy times

From SMART to VANGUARD and Epubs


What are we working on next

Now that we are getting academics more used to have sites that are not a bunch of resources and activities just in the middle of the page we are working at creating more interactive templates using the book module and epubs.... so stay tuned

Some of my favorite tools and apps


If you like to see a sample Smart Template log in here with the log in name myguest and password
and you are more than welcome to explore anything else on my page....ciao ciao