Course design

Moodle Course Site

Course Site Assignment:

Create a Moodle online course site module and overall site components:

  • Overall quality of work, as per the overall standards listed above. A significant component of your score on this assignment relates to the caliber of your web design (including level sophistication, overall look and feel ,and how user-friendly the site is).
  • Splash page with a customized GUI with at least four (4) navigational components
  • One complete learning module with subject-specific content (module shells or placeholder pages not acceptable), largely based on HTML pages
  • One module programmed for selective release
  • One additional general discussion forum topics
  • One group discussion forum for (at least) 2 groups (must set up groups; they need not be populated)
  • A reflection upon your experience completing this assignment posted in the Course Site page of your e-portfolio

To complete Assignment 5:
I hajacked my Moodle layout early, so I’ve done the following to push the design a bit further.

1 ) Reorganized the navigation – added the ‘home’ page as sixth menu item along with recognizable iconography to refine GUI. I thought if students are expected to go to the Home page frequently, it should be accessible in the navigation (cognitive ergonomics principles and all that).

Menu organization

Menu2 ) I changed the look of the sub-navigation, greying out ‘locked’ modules and adding an icon to indicate module status. Having messed with the traditional layout meant that a different approach was required required to address the time-release portion of the assignment. Modules 3, 4 and Week 10 of module 2 are all set for time-release in coordination with the dates as listed in the course calendar. This is now visually apparent thanks to some custom CSS tweaks.

3 ) I moved the ‘Home’ contents (except intro activity) to the ‘modules’ page to fulfill the required ‘splash’ page component. Here I used the recommendations of the eLearning Toolkit to make a splash image that was simple and straight-forward. I realized that getting comfortable with the interface for students would be easier when students aren’t inundated with too much writing at the start.

4 ) I filled in the rest of the weekly pages in Module 1 (week 2, 3, 4 & 5) with substantive HTML content (supporting lessons) & resources. I chose to seam the story & quiz into the curriculum early on, so I wrote weekly activities around these (please visit those pages for the logic of each re:composition). I also experimented with java popups and links to enhance viewing/browsing.

Schedule table5 ) I Filled in Module 2 weeks 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 (as mentioned above, week 10 is time-released where a presentation calendar/list will appear last-minute to build anticipation and to motivate students to practice and prepare for an early presentation slot). I also made the schedule page hyperlinked/interactive, as I realized how handy it would be to simply go to the place you want be via clicking after looking at the schedule (something I frequently wish I could do in other courses, and an automated feature I will consider building-into my future LMS re-design!)

6 ) I created the required group discussion forums – these are also set for time-release directly after students present their work. To give a bit of background: presentations generally takes place in front of peers, professors, recent graduates and members of industry. Students are tasked with working in groups to keep notes for one another on the 5 minute critique that follows each presentation (they are grilled on their approach and must defend it). The forum provides a place where students will post these notes for one another. This grouping serves two purposes: 1 ) presenting students can attend to these issues later, focusing entirely on responding to their critique; and 2 ) this helps ensure critique/presentation attendance. As this is a high-pressure, high-stakes time in design study,  students present at different times on different days (over a period of two or three days) and are required to view each others’ presentations. Many skip without a motivation to attend, and this activity can therefore help to motivate learners and better distribute their efforts (Gibbs & Simpson, 2005).

7 ) Additional general discussion forum is located under Module 1 Week 2.  This is a great place for students to bounce their design interest ideas off of one another for peer feedback. I chose to populate this task based on the Synchronous & Asynchronous communication activity. You can read more about my reasoning for this week’s activities/layout here.

To recap my design experience, I chose to continue working with Chickering and Gamsons ‘powerful forces’ in undergraduate education (1987) as mentioned in my introductory module post to set high expectations for myself as well as my learners. I believe that this indeed helps to “create a strong sense of shared purpose” (1987). From a pedagogical standpoint, “creativity is best understood and approached holistically as a fully physical, emotional and cognitive, as well as iterative and generative, human capability of a high order” (Tudor, 2008), which is why I set about to create activities that were infused with exploration, empathy and reflection. I also worked hard to establish a peer-to-peer participatory model of interaction and collaboration to provide “the kin[d] of environmen[t] that support the process of expertise” (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1994). Although there were many individual activities, many of the other activities provided encouraged students to work in pairs or in groups for communal knowledge-building. Basically, I tried to architect a constructivist learning environment where emphasis was placed “on creating circumscribed activities or experiences for the learner […that were] authentic; [and presented] most of the cognitive demands [that learners] would encounter in the real world” (Barab & Duffy, 2000). The combination of these factors helps to create a practice field where learning is modeled, coached and scaffolded with a high degree of social and contextual support (Jonassen, 1999).

The design domain itself provides a highly collaborative environment structured around ill-defined problems. These tend to be naturally stimulating and inviting when effectively coupled with innovative teaching practice and technology implementation. In line with my flight-path, I chose to integrate a variety of Web 2.0 tools because as Prensky points out, students today have and require a “very different blend of cognitive skills” (2001), particularly students of design and dynamic media. I felt confident in my approach to use new ‘Digital Native methodologies’ to enable speedy exploration, random access, and new and various forms of collaboration and interactivity (2001). According to Anderson, online courses should demonstrate an “awareness of the unique cognitive structures and understandings that learners bring to the learning context” (2008) and in this context students crave to flit about topics, to engage in “judicious risk-taking” (Tudor, 2008), and to play with and explore new interactive experiences in rapid succession. Throughout the course I provided students with extra links to technologies and resources where they may partake in this exploration.

Other tools

“Innovative teaching strategies […] prompt creative questioning and encourage creative action and analysis that sustains the affective engagement by students with what it means and feels like to ‘be’ intentionally creative in a given field. This is the foundation of professional ‘experience’ and the basis of self motivated creativity.” (Tudor, 2008).

I’d like to think that I was successful in taking on this type of innovative teaching strategy to better address the needs of ‘design studio culture’ in my Moodle course. Only time, testing, and refinement will tell though, so I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this! If you’d like to demo the final module & structure I’ve backed it up to my own moodle install. I haven’t restored all of the css animations yet (these weren’t available on the UBC Moodle server) but you can try it out by using:

[Sorry, this resource has been retired!]


Anderson, T. (2008a). Towards a theory of online learning. In T. Anderson & F. Elloumi (Eds.), Theory and practice of online learning. Edmonton AB: Athabasca University. Retrieved from here

Barab, S., & Duffy, T. (2000). From practice fields to communities of practice. In D. Jonassen and S. Land (Eds.), Theoretical foundations of learning environments. Mahweh, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, 39(7), 3-7. Retrieved from here.

Gibbs, G., & Simpson, C., (2005). Conditions under which assessment supports students’ learning. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, 1(1), 3-31. Retrieved here.

Jonassen, D. (1999). Designing constructivist learning environments. In C. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional design theories and models: Volume II. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On The Horizon, 9 (5), 1-6.

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1994). Computer support for knowledge-building communities. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 3(3), 265-283.

Tudor, R. (2008). The pedagogy of creativity: Understanding higher order capability development in design and arts education. Retrieved here.

Related Readings:

Vyas, D., van der Veer, G., & Nijholt, A. (2013). Creative practices in the design studio culture: collaboration and communication. Cognition, Technology & Work, 15(4), 415-443.

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