EWD Library_DOB6939

Moodle VLE at Royal Holloway


 

Overview

Moodle is the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) of choice at Royal Holloway, University of London.  Each taught module has a designated area in Moodle where, if used as part of a blended learning approach, students can access content, submit coursework, participate in online activities, and communicate with staff and students.

All students registered on Banner are automatically enrolled upon their course spaces in Moodle.

We are currently using Moodle version 3.8.  Please refer to the Moodle Upgrade Page for announcements relating to hosting, upgrading, rollover and archiving.

Log-in to Moodle (20/21 courses for development only)

Log-in to Moodle (19/20 courses)

Log-in to Moodle Archive (18/19 courses)

 

Activtities supported by Moodle

Moodle supports a wide range of activities, including:

  • Sharing documents & web-based resources
  • Discussion fora – for disseminating news and facilitating discussion
  • Online submission of assignments via Turnitin – for originality checking, online marking & peer marking
  • E-Assessment – multiple choice questions, short answer questions & essay questions
  • Wikis – for collaborative & creative work
  • Polling tools – for capturing student opinions, feedback and learning
  • Lecture capture viewing via Panopto/RePlay  – for ease of access, revision & review
  • Providing direct access to Past Exam papers - via the Library Repositories

Joined-up teaching & learning 

  • Moodle is connected to many RHUL services, including Banner, Campus Connect, Turnitin Originality Checking, Turntin Feedback Studio, Turnitin PeerMark and RePlay (lecture capture) and has proven year-upon-year to be an effective single-point of contact for online learning, assessment and feedback
  • Connectivity with Banner means that courses have an instant 'community of practice' where communication opportunities - both synchronous and asynchronous -  between students, and between staff and students are extended
  • 25% of visits to Moodle are made with smartphones or tablets
  • Moodle 3.8 to which we upgraded in June 2020 - offers responsive design and provides an equitable experience on tablets and smartphones, as well as desktops and laptops

Benefits of using Moodle

There is widespread recognition that e-learning technologies can improve learning, teaching, assessment and achievement, and that these contribute to increased rates of recruitment & retention. E-Learning can also help to support a growing and diverse student body. 

The benefits of e-learning can be identified in the following five key dimensions:

Pedagogy

E-Learning technologies can meet the needs of research-informed learning design

A useful way of looking at e-learning is to see how and where it fits into current research and practice in education. Beetham (2007) argues that people learn more effectively when they:

  • are active - and active learning has been found to narrow achievment gaps
  • are motivated and engaged
  • can bring their existing capabilities into play
  • are appropriately challenged
  • have opportunities for dialogue
  • receive feedback
  • have opportunities for consolidation and integration

Beetham, H. (2007) 'An approach to learning activity design', In: Beetham, H. and Sharpe, R., Eds. Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: designing and delivering e-learning, Abingdon: Routledge. pp 26-40.

Examples of how the considered use of e-learning technologies has supported progressive course design at Royal Holloway include, but are not restricted to:

  • The widespread use of Moodle Quizzes to build, deploy, report, and re-use formative and summative course tests, to provide students multiple opportunities to self-test and improve their understanding and performance
  • The  rapidly increasing use of GradeMark, which enhances the student experience by speeding up marking, facilitating better quality feedback, supporting a single data entry point, and providing more reliable, accurate and legible feedback for students
  • The use of discussion fora to replace and/or extend seminars, to allow students time to reflect on each others’ comments and prepare their own questions and statements
  • The use of discussion fora and wikis, to allow students to retrace their discussions, to improve their understanding of different opinions, and to monitor their own development

Connectivity

Staff and students can take full advantage from instant access to information on a global scale

An long-established example of this at Royal Holloway is exemplified by our institutional subscription to  Early English Books Online (EEBO),  which contains digital facsimile page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473-1700 - from the first book printed in English by William Caxton, through the age of Spenser and Shakespeare and the tumult of the English Civil War.

“Now all students can have the resources of the British Library, of the Oxford and Cambridge University Libraries, and of some of the great North American collections of their desktop. Students in Hull, or Durham, Penzance or Hastings, can be examining some of the rarest and most impressive works of a global collection by a few clicks of the mouse”

Champion, Justin (2005) ‘Discovering the past online’ JISC inform: Preparing for the Future: providing leadership in the use of technology Issue 8 pp8-10 p7

Flexibility

Staff and students can personalise learning experiences through the use of online technologies

Access to content, practice, assessment and feedback can happen at any time and any place through the development and deployment of 're-usable learning objects and activities,  This allows students to take control of their learning - when they learn, the speed at which they navigate content, the frequency with which they self-test, and the ability to view their previous performance.

Examples of this in action at Royal Holloway include, but are not restricted to the:

  • use of multimedia content
  • recording and availability of lecture recordings
  • availability of self-marking formative tests
  • conditional access to new materials - based upon previous engagement and/or achievements with earlier course content and activities

Special educational needs can be supported through technology

Many students can benefit from personalised access to resources and activities. Moodle, for example, offers opportunities to support learners with a range of learning difficulties or disabilities in ways that would simply not have been possible in the past. These include medical and other conditions, including visual impairment and dyslexia.

Examples of Moodle supporting students in this way at Royal Holloway include, but are not restricted to: 

  • The design and deployment of the 'Super Student' role to provide early access to specific materials, both easily and discretely, to students with declared Special Educational Needs (SENs) 
  • The use of 'Quiz Overides' to provide differentiated access - earlier, longer, repeated -  to online tests for students who require such access
  • The provision of materials in 'open format' which can be re-purposed to suit the learners' needs - type size, font, colour, and spacing

Extendability

With Moodle learning communities can function independently of time and space

Moodle is an example of C&IT, which stands for Communications and Information Technology, one of the terms used in Higher Education for e-learning, and brought into wider use by the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education (usually referred to as the Dearing Report) 1997, available at  http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/hefce/1997/m18_97.htm.

The C for communication was put first because one of the members of the Dearing group, Diana Laurillard, author of Rethinking University Teaching, felt that it was in communications technology that the real opportunities, the revolutions and excitement lay – the opportunity for one to one and one to many synchronous and asynchronous communication,which could allow learning communities to function independently of time and space, and in ways that had never previously been possible.  Examples of this at Royal Holloway include, but are not restricted to:

  • The use of online discussion fora to extend and/or replace traditional classroom-based seminars
  • The recording and instant access via Moodle of lectures to provide opportunities to review topics, reinforce learning, and create re-usable lecture content
  • The use of interactive Moodle tools (Fora and Wikis) to support, guide, and moderate independent study groups
  • Peer-reviewed formative assessment activities in discussion fora
  • The live use of mind-mapping tools in seminars - which are later made available in Moodle
  • The use of anonymous in-class polling/testing

Efficiency

Resources - human, capital and digital - can be better deployed with the use of technology

The Internet has revolutionised almost all aspects of daily life in the 21st century, including; commerce, industry, banking, government, communications, entertainment and travel.   Higher Education has, although arguably to a lesser extent, also changed as a result of developments in online technology. 

Core processes such as administration, teaching, learning and assessment can each be streamlined and extended to make the most of existing resources.  This is particularly true in the case of assessment at Royal Holloway.

Online submission and marking of assignments

  • Paperless submission  - this removes the need for students to visit Campus; reduces queueing and congestion within departmental buildings; and quickens the turnaround of marks and feedback
  • Additional benefits of paperless submission include cost savings in travel, printing and electricity
  • 'Mark anywhere' - staff can mark assignments from wherever they may be in the world, again quickening the turnaround of marks and feedback
  • Online marking facilitates the sharing of marking resources such as libraries of comments and feedback resources; and the transparency of marking practices
  • Plagiarism detection and deterrent systems accelerate the identification and sources of suspicious content, and can quickly alert staff to struggling students and academic integrity issues
  • External examiners can access marked essays without visiting the Campus

E-Assessment

  • Automated marking of MCQ quizzes - producing and managing Multiple Choice Questions takes time and effort, but this is rewarded with the time saved by automatic marking and feedback upon submission of tests
  • Collections of MCQ questions can be re-used several times, again providing a return on the original investment
  • Students can benefit from opportunities to repeatedly self-test and reflect without adding to the marking and feedback workloads of staff
  • External examiners can access marked tests without visiting the Campus
  • Online tests - and re-sits - can be scheduled without the need to book rooms, arrange invigilators or print papers
  • Differentiated access - extended times for DDS-registered students is discretely supported

 

Your Moodle courses

How do I access my Moodle courses?

Each validated course has a space in Moodle.  Students are enrolled upon their courses once their Banner records are updated by Departmental Administration Teams.  Moodle courses are hidden from students until those teaching them - ‘Course Authors’  - make them visible. 

Note: There is currently no mechanism which automatically assigns teaching staff to the role of ‘Course Authors’ in their Moodle courses.

Contact either your School Administration Team, or the E-Learning Team at e-learning@rhul.ac.uk to request access to your courses

Is there any support for this technology if I don't know how to use it?

  1. Visit the E-Learning Support section of Moodle for some online guidance on building your courses
  2. Contact the E-Learning Team at e-learning@rhul.ac.uk for advice
  3. Look out for scheduled consultancy sessions on the E-Learning Team website

Who can access my Moodle course?

  • When your taught course is not live only those assigned with editing rights to it, the E-Learning Team, and a few memebrs of IT Servcies can access and fully engage with it
  • When it is live, those students enrolled upon the module in Banner have access to it
  • The default setting for courses allows guests access; guest in thei caser means a logged-in RHUL usetrs
  • For non-taught courses, a suitable enrolment method needs to be identifeid and implemented before enrolled learners can access it

 

What is the lifespan of a Moodle course?

The following applies to validated taught courses to which students are enrolled upon through Banner.  An indicator of such a course is a prefixed code, e.g., HS1002.  It is intended that both UG and PG courses will have the lifecycle outlined below.  Non-Banner courses such as those offered through Kaplan, CeDAS, International Study Group, and the Professional Development online portfolio are not subject to this schedule - but may be affected.

Moodle course lifespan

 Course creation (June 202x)

  1. All taught course spaces are created in Moodle through a link to Banner data (June/July)
  2. Course Authors are assigned to their course spaces on demand by Schools Administrators (June/July onwards)
  3. Content and activities are developed (June/July onwards)
  4. Courses are made 'live' by Course Authors (October / January)

Course Rollover (June 202x +1)

  1. At the end of the (taught) academic year, courses are locked-down and copied
  2. Students and their various interactions with the course (quizzes, assignments, forum posts) are removed from the copied course.
  3. The copied course is then made available on Moodle to the Course Authors

Course soft archiving (June-September 202x +1)

  1. The locked-down course (a product of the Rollover process, above) is moved to the Moodle Archive
  2. Archived courses can be used for resits of quizzes and the (re-)submission of assignments 

Course hard archiving (October 202x +1)

  1. Archived courses will remain on online until the following July
  2. Course authors and students can refer to the archived courses for reference or review
  3. Course authors cannot then edit the content and students cannot interact with the activities
  4. Courses are then archived offline for a further five years

 

Case Studies

 

Myths versus research findings

"If I put my lecture slides and notes on Moodle, the students will not come to my lectures"

This quote encapsulates two e-learning myths; that Moodle is no more than a file repository, and that fee-paying students believe that a PowerPoint slideshow is an adequate replacement for face-to-face contact with an expert in their field.

E-learning is and can be much more than replicating face-to-face practices by simply uploading documents to a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).   While this is a perfectly reasonable starting point for those new to learning technologies, such practice on its own limits the extend to which VLEs can enhance student learning.

Research has indicated that the availability of lecture notes and slides on VLEs does not increase rates of absenteeism:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03098265.2010.498880#.UwINw85vCGk

http://www.edin.ie/pubs/ei3-chapters/ei3-ch8.pdf

Moodle.org has an extensive list of rebutted myths: https://docs.moodle.org/24/en/Moodle_myths

"There is no support for Moodle and I do not know how to use it"

  •  The E-Learning Team delivers hundreds of hours of learnign & development opportunities for staff.  These include scheduled, bespoke, on-the-fly, one-to-one, small groups, large groups, face-to-face and online sessions.
  • In addition to supported sessions, there is a wealth of self-service online support for E-Learning Services in Moodle

"Why should I learn to use this system if it will be replaced or changed?"

  • Moodle has been the Virtual Learning Environment of choice at Royal Holloway since 2006
  • College is committed to providing a robust and reliable service which in turn requires annual upgrades, most of which are concerned with security and performacne
  • E-Leaning development skills, e.g., designing effective online activities, are transferable to any online learning environment

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