Teaching & Learning


Five ways to guarantee a more student-friendly Moodle course

17 September 2021

The UCL Connected Learning Baseline sets out how you can best structure, organise and manage your Moodle course to benefit students' learning.

Student in a mask at her laptop in the library

The UCL Connected Learning Baseline sets out the minimum expectations, or baseline, for connected learning for all taught programmes and modules at UCL. It's a comprehensive guide for staff on how best to structure and design online learning resources and activities in Moodle.  

The Baseline's ten sections cover the essentials of how to structure and present a course so that it’s easy to navigate, how to help students get the most out of it and how to manage communications, along with a digestible take on your legal obligations. 

As term approaches, we break down the first five sections of the Baseline, which focus on making your course more useable, welcoming and navigable - an obvious starting point for guaranteeing a more student-friendly Moodle course. 

1. Think about structure

As we move back into more blended delivery, students will have to navigate a rich mix of online and campus-based activities. Structure your course clearly to help students navigate quickly, understand the sequence of activities, access information and easily understand the layout of unfamiliar courses. 

Your Moodle course is essentially a ‘map’ of the student’s journey through the module. Clear ‘signposting’ of resources and activities becomes ever more important to reduce stress and guide learners though often quite complex teaching sequences. 

A consistent and ‘friendly’ Moodle course design, with meaningful labelling of links will help students find specific resources quickly and easily. A simple welcome video that provides an overview of the module and/or sections within it are much appreciated by our students.  

Read the baseline for structuring a Moodle course.

2. Help learners orientate themselves 

We know students who are learning partially or entirely online may feel isolated or ‘disconnected’ from the learning process. It is not unusual for them to be unsure whether they have all the information they need and are doing the right things at the right times.   

Learners also appreciate simple instructional direction describing where, when (and why) to look for resources and how to complete activities. Students can especially benefit from details of how they may contact key staff members to get help when they need it, and suggestions on how long to spend on each task in order to prioritise and avoid overload. 

These simple adjustments can reduce students’ confusion and anxiety, enabling them better to focus on learning.  

Read the baseline for setting out learning expections in a Moodle course.  

3. Enable effective and consistent communication

Establish your presence in the Moodle course from the outset: set out the frequency and kinds of communications your students can expect from you there.   

Equally, it’s helpful to set out the type and level of contribution you expect of students e.g. when, where and how often are they are expected to post to discussion forums.  

Read the baseline for effective communication in Moodle.  

4. Set out assessment requirements 

Students value where assessment requirements are clearly outlined in the module’s Moodle course, alongside links to tools and information to prepare the assignment and to help avoid plagiarism. 

Read the baseline for providing assessment information in Moodle.  

5. Provide varied, up-to-date, clearly labelled resources 

Your Moodle course should be your students’ one-stop-shop for rich learning resources, in varied formats, from both UCL and external sources.  

Think about what case studies, images or other multimedia might enhance your core content and don’t forget to link to your module reading list using the UCL online reading list service.   

Read the baseline for providing learning resources in Moodle.  

Adapt a ready-made template 

To ensure the Baseline is a practical tool to support you, UCL Digital Education has developed an exemplar course and a template course in Moodle.  

The Baseline is flexible and can be implemented in a variety of ways, and while there is no requirement to display information in a particular order or using a specific layout, the exemplar course shows what the application of the Baseline can look like in the context of a real course. 

The template course contains a suggested structure, resource placeholders and sample text, which can serve as a starting point for those who are creating a brand new course (or rebuilding an existing one). This is the default template used when new courses are created, unless the person requesting the new course specifies that they require a pre-existing (e.g., departmental) template.  

The template can also simply be used, like the exemplar, as a guide when making changes to an existing course. 

Digital Education also provide a Pathway to Connected Learning Baseline alignment which can take you through a step-by-step process to align your Moodle course with the Connected Learning Baseline. 

Hear from colleagues 

Watch the recording below to follow a discussion amongst colleagues who have adopted and customised templates for their own departments as way of implementing the guidance above.  

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/2dhBah0A
5 mins 50 secondsDima Khazem (Lecturer and Connected Learning Lead, Department of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment)  
23 mins 6 secondsTim Neumann (Faculty Learning Technology Lead, Institute of Education and Lecturer, MA Education Technology) 
40 minsParama Chaudhury (Professor of Teaching, Economics)
Q&A throughoutUlrich Tideau (Connected Learning Lead, School of European Languages, Culture and Society) 
Q&A throughoutClive Young, Karen Shackleford-Cesare and Leo Havemann (Digital Education Advisors).