Wednesday, November 05, 2008

e-Learning Course on Green ICT Strategies: Part 7 Setting up in the LMS

In Part 6 I prepared a draft course outline for a new e-learning course on "Green IT Strategies", to be offered as part of the ACS Computer Professional Education Program. The next step is to prepare detailed material for each week of the course: "Green ICT Strategies".

It happens that I have my own copy of Moodle installed on my web site and this is the same Learning Management System (LMS) used by the ACS for e-learning (the ANU is currently selecting a new LMS for use in 2009). As I am familiar with Moodle, I decided to skip a step and compose the course using the LMS, rather than prepare documents for an educational technician to create the course from.

Creating a course using a web based LMS is much like setting up a web site, or a blog, but with a few extra steps. It is daunting the first few times and helps to have an example to work from. You start by giving the name, abbreviation and course code for the course, a short description of the course, when it is and how people enrol. The new course is then created. Remember to switch off the option which allows people to enrol, until the course design is completed and approved, or everyone will get confused (many courses don't use Moodle's in-built enrolment process anyway). Normally a course would be restricted to enrolled students in the same group, but I will make my draft design public, so the details are available for comment.

As I did with the course outline, I used the ACS Service Management subject, created by Murali Ramakrishnan, as a template. While the ACS subjects are in e-learning format, they are still semester based with a fixed starting date and weekly work schedule. This is so the student is not on their own, but progressing through the work with a "cohort" of fellow students at the same level. A "Weekly outline" format is used for the course structure in the LMS. Given the starting date and the number of weeks, the LMS creates a skeleton of the course with space for each week's material.

As well as the weekly material, there is a Chatroom Forum for students to discuss issues online (created with Moodle's chat facility), Terminology List (using Moodle's Glossary) and a Introductory Overview (a linked document). Features such as chatrooms and glossaries make the LMS particularly useful for education. Not only do they allow contributions from the students but have features to allow the teacher to assess the student's contribution.

Moodle allows documents to be placed in its own repository or external web documents to be linked. Normally the course notes will be stored in the LMS, with links to external reference material. Many course documents are in PDF, but I will attempt to do them as web page,as I find this easier to read on screen.

With the weekly topics set I now need to create for each:
  1. Readme 1st
  2. Work Notes
  3. Seminar
  4. Weekly Discussion Forum
  5. end of Week Message
  6. Discussion question
  7. Assignments and notes
As always, comments, contributions and corrections are welcome.

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