Student thoughtfully looking a computer monitor.

Using Moodle for course delivery

Moodle is Lancaster’s virtual learning environment (VLE), all modules have an associated Moodle course and students will have access to these when studying their course. If you’re unfamiliar with using Moodle, please complete our online Moodle course aimed at staff, and then use these top tips to help you develop an effective online course for your students.

Introduction to Moodle (for staff)
Some one holding a pen over a notepad.

1. Organise Your Course

Consider the layout of your Moodle course - learning resources and activities should be sequenced in a logical order from the start to the end of the course. you can view a recorded training session covering Moodle course structure. To avoid long Moodle courses, consider using the Collapsed Topics course format and don’t put too much content in the general section as students will have to scroll past this every time they access the course. Make use of the Page and Book activities to move static resources away from the course page thus reducing the page length further. If you're rolling over your Moodle module to another year, remember to delete the content you no longer need.

2. Give Instructions and Context

Make your course aims and learning objectives explicit - do this by adding them to your Moodle course using a Page activity, or link directly to the online module handbook. If you require students to complete online activities provide clear instructions that outline what should be done and by when, try to avoid long lists of files and activities without any context explaining its purpose. You can use Moodle’s progress tracking features to monitor student engagement with your course and the restrict access feature to control the way they access course materials.

Two people looking at a computer screen.
Large computer screens.

3. Use a Variety of Resources

You can add a wide variety of learning materials to Moodle such lecture slides, eStream, Panopto or YouTube videos and content from external learning platforms. You should add these to your course with descriptive and consistent titles to make their purpose clear to students. Try to use a variety of resource types to increase engagement in your course. Instead of uploading PDF resources, you may want to consider developing some interactive course materials using tools such as H5P. Where possible, try to make resources available to students in advance of lectures so they have time to prepare and adapt materials to suit there needs. When adding content from external places such as YouTube, consider whether the content will be accessible to all your students (YouTube is blocked in China, for example).

tip 3 accordion Accordion

4. Create Online Activities

Moodle doesn’t have to be a list of static resources, there are many different interactive activities you can create for your students to participate in such as glossary formation activities, forum discussions, interactive quizzes, data gathering tasks and peer assessment and evaluation. Many of the activities support group work modes and can be graded if required. Take a look at the Moodle help pages to see details or get in touch with the Digital Learning and Teaching team for a demo.

A screenshot of Moodle's activities.
Tabletop view of group work using laptops.

5. Be inclusive and accessible

You should follow the same accessibility principles when creating your Moodle course as you do when creating a word document; ensure that you use heading levels, alternative text on pictures and provide captions or transcripts for any video resources you use. Moodle has a tool called Blackboard Ally that will help you to spot accessibility issues and guide you through the process of fixing them. See the Moodle specific expectations in the Accessiblity guide for further information.

6. Communicate with Your Students

Start your module by sending a welcome message to your students, this could be a textual or a video introduction, consider using this to give a brief overview of your Moodle course and highlight key areas students should be aware of, such as forums and assignments. Moodle discussion forums offer one-way communication with students and can be split into seminar groupings if required, avoid using the announcement forum for general department news so you don’t spam students with too many messages, department new and events can be published via the university news system. Make use of discussion forums to encourage interaction between students, but make each forum clear and purposeful otherwise student uptake will be limited. If you’d prefer, you can setup a companion Microsoft Teams space for discussions on your course.

Person typing at a laptop.

Need more help?

If you need further help or advice setting up your Moodle site, please contact the ISS digital learning and teaching team.