Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Tailoring e-learning templates to different disciplines

Greetings from the Australian National University where the science teaching staff have been looking at some of the best of the the implementation of courses in the Moodle Learning Management System. This year the ANU transition from Web CT to Moodle. Here therefore second generation designs of mature on-line learning materials.

It was interesting to see, even though the university provides templates for courses, there is a wide diversity and innovation in the way courses are laid out. This partly reflects the requirements of different disciplines. The course for a course in mathematics looks very different to one for ecology or science journalism. It was interesting to see that the design used reflected the discipline, with the mathematics course looking "mathematical" the ecology one having photos of the natural world and the journalism course mimicking a newspaper.

Some issues were the difficulty of creating a hierarchical structure in Moodle's relatively flat approach. There was no easy way to communicate high priority announcements to the students without them getting lost on the routine on-line discussion. Also integration of external tools, such as VotaPedia, was an issue. It was interesting the different approaches to how to overcome these problems. An example is that I have found the Moodle Book module to create a deep hierarchical structure, but some others have used a different approach.

What was most useful was the mutual affirmation that using LMS was now an acceptable and routine way to teach and that some diversity was okay.

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