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Moodle is a popular, flexible Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that is designed to support face-to-face teaching with a wide range of versatile online tools, as well as providing a place to upload resources for courses.  It is very popular around the world as a tool for creating online dynamic teaching sites and supporting classroom training.

Developed by pedagogical experts, Moodle is a mature system with a strong and enthusiastic international community of users and developers.

Many other students and academics around the University are already familiar with the system having used it in previous institutions.  It is easy and intuitive to use, both for delivering courses and for learning.

There are various options available when deciding to expand and augment learning through Moodle including quizzes, workshops, forums, interactive content, and more. To explore the full range of potential activities make sure to review the Moodle Help for Staff pages to learn how to get started.

Moodle Structure

When discussing Moodle there is some key terminology and unique naming conventions that are useful to understand:

  • Category is a collection of similar Courses providing a clear method of organising similar papers or modules. Typically these Categories represent a Tripos or College with relevant Courses contained within.
  • Course is a single instance within the platform typically used to represent a Paper or Module. A Course can be thought of as a website with the capacity for menus and organisational structure within it but usually best suited to contain more focused information.
  • Topic is a specific section within a Course. Topics can represent any number of elements of a course and vary greatly depending on individuals, Colleges, and Departments.
  • To ensure appropriate communication channels and responsibility across the site, some members of staff are identified as Moodle Coordinators. Staff with this role have certain higher level permissions within Moodle and can create or edit Courses and Categories depending on their level of access. There is typically two or three Coordinators associated with a Category or Course to share support.

Navigation and Communication

A significant factor in encouraging student engagement with a Moodle course is the presentation and navigation of resources in the design of the course itself. Ensuring an appropriate course format, organisation, methods of sharing information, and even naming conventions can provide a much clearer overview of a paper or course and ensure students can access educational resources without issue. Considering inclusive practice and principles of universal design when designing these elements of a Moodle course can significantly improve access and participation and enable students to focus on their learning and understanding more effectively.

Depending on the scale of a course and how you plan to organise information for students, the Blended Learning Service recommends using one of the following Course Formats when designing or updating a Moodle Course:

  • Topics Format provides all topics, or sections, in a consecutive list within the course. Whilst topics can be collapsed and expanded as needed, we only recommend this format for smaller courses as large quantities of resources and activities can become overwhelming and become lost when contained to a single page.
  • Collapsed Topics Format similarly arranges all topics in a single page as collapsible sections, however, each has a much more pronounced header and all are collapsed by default with the ability to expand and collapse the whole course if needed. As above, we only recommend this for smaller courses or workshops as a long list of sections can prove ineffective or students, however, this is slightly improved by the design making it clearer where one section ends and another begins.
  • Grid Format enables a 'front page' to the course that lists all available topics as a grid off images for students to select. The information within each topic is presented the same as other formats but the grid provides an immediate and visual method of navigating available sections. Slightly larger courses can make effective use of the Grid format but as more topics are added, the page can become more and more cumbersome to navigate unless clear conventions (naming and visual) are implemented.
  • OneTopic Format presents individual topics in much the same way as other formats but crucially provides the ability to present topics within other topics allowing for better compartmentalisation and organisational structure. Topic headers can either be displayed horizontally across the top of the page or as a vertical list to the left (similar to the existing Course Index menu). This is typically the most appropriate and effective format for larger courses and papers as the potential for greater clarity can prove very supportive for students and provide staff with clear ownership over relevant sections.

Inclusive Blended Learning

In this brief overview, we explore the changing dynamics of inclusivity within education, particularly its intersection with blended learning. Whether you're seeking broader insights into fostering inclusivity or practical tips to enhance your teaching approach, this piece offers various insights and recommendations for everyone. Access the resource here.