I attended the Moodle Moot on the 2nd and 3rd days. I was there as Turnitin’s guest, presenting with them on the benefits and practicalities of upgrading to Feedback Studio, but had plenty of time to hear other talks. Below are brief summaries of those with most relevance.
Moodle assignment improvements
You can now add user (or group) overrides in assignments, just as you previously could in quizzes. That allows you to add an extension or extra time for individuals.
Using the Moodle app it is easier to work offline. Students can add assignments while offline, which will then be uploaded once they are online. Staff can also mark offline (note – this is for Moodle assignments only, not Turnitin. The latter can only be marked offline using the Turnitin app on an iPad).
In Moodle 3.3 (not yet released, likely to be used in Kent’s version towards the end of 2017), more documents will be supported, including Google docs, and comments made in marking will be collapsible.
A development to come in future versions of Moodle (specific info not yet available) will allow a student dashboard, giving easy access to (for example) assignments which are due. It should also allow quick access to the most recently uploaded documents, without preventing students accessing courses in the usual way.
Tips in designing online content
The Good Moodle Guide gives some Kent-specific guidance. Various speakers gave advice, some more relevant to distance education, but some ideas worth considering:
- Show students where they are. Marking what is completed and what is to be done next is relatively straightforward by ordering items on the page, and switching on ‘activity completion’. At its most basic, students manually mark an activity as complete when they want, allowing them to quickly see which document is next to read.
- Drip-feed content. People are used to short articles on the web. This is not the same as stripping out content – there should still be lots of information, but presenting it in short sections where possible will aid navigation and understanding.
- ‘Ask the tutor’ online chat times are useful, or forums can provide a similar discussion mechanism asynchronously.
The company are currently trying to align their development with the future needs of HE (and other) customers, recognising that assessment is a hot topic and methods may be changing.
They recognise the demand for blind-double marking and other interface improvements, and their developers are working on improving their offer.