My class is for real and so is Moodle

It’s real!  My course has been approved by the faculty, it’s listed in the catalog, and even has a number!  The instructor is named “To Be Announced,” but we can work on that.

I’ve spent time working attentively on my Moodle site.   Years of teaching online-only courses has helped me think about how the LMS can support classroom learning.  When teaching online, the LMS has to do some very heavy lifting and be many different things to the students.  Getting the site to where it is sufficient to give students a start and guidance requires careful organization.  I was always concerned about anxious, non-traditional students getting lost.  Even as I prepare to re-enter the classroom, I still come from the “more-is-more” school of thought.  I want my Moodle site to look like a resource someone (the instructor) spent time on.  Some of this is very practical organizational stuff – creating Labels to differentiate class days,  using the “Show One Section Per Page” setting to avoid the scroll-of-death, and deleting unnecessary blocks.

However, I’ve thought a lot about design and style too.  I think appearance matters in communicating that the material contained inside is something worth paying attention to.  I understand the impulse but I think my pet peeve is a Moodle site that is nothing but a string of isolated PDF files.  Maybe the course is so powerful that this approach suffices but I suspect Moodle could be doing more.  I’ve added a few little things on my page: I have a graphic course header in my General section, most of my links/PDFs/Files contain a small icon (with description for accessibility,  of course), and I preface many sections with relevant quotes from the artists we’re discussing. These are individually minor tokens that together make the course feel more cared for and lived in.  If a course is an experience then the LMS should be part of that experience for the better.

I’m still thinking about how to communicate this message to Moodle users around Kalamazoo College.  Many faculty already utilize select elements of what I’m doing, but a number of them do not yet and could be a receptive audience.  That’s a summer project!

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