“Where in the LMS do I find…?
In the field of Instructional Design, I get asked all the time how to find things in Moodle, my university’s LMS. The people asking me aren’t dumb, either. As PhDs and college professors, most of them are among the smartest people in any room. So if they don’t know where something is in the LMS, how will their students?
The first General Standard in Quality Matters (QM) covers “Course Overview and Introduction” and it is SO vital to Online Learning. When you entered a traditional classroom, one of the first things you did — often subconsciously — was to analyze your environment:
- Where do I sit?
- Where is the teacher?
- How is the room oriented?
- If I’m hard of hearing, where are the speakers?
- If my sight isn’t so great, how close can I get to the front?
In building any online course, we need to do some critical thinking about how to translate the face-to-face, real-life student experience into the online environment. That includes those dimensions of learning we don’t often think about. One great way is to continue our list above and see if we can’t answer the same questions online, from the student’s perspective.
Answering the Questions Because Quality Matters
Where do I sit? Well, in the online classroom, I “sit” by being present and making my presence known. I should be sure to interact regularly, daily if possible, with both my learning peers and my instructor.
Where is the teacher? This question is really about making sure I’m directed toward my learning. Since we know there’s a social dimension to learning, it would be good for the instructor to have a bio for me to read. I should also introduce myself to my peers. Beyond the social dimension, this is about information: where can I find it? Since online learning is generally more a collaborative effort than a lecture-based model, it may not be the instructor themselves I’m looking for. Has my instructor pointed this out to me?
How is the room oriented? This is really about where I direct my attention. Where do I watch any necessary videos? Where do I turn in assignments?
By answering these questions (among many others) clearly in the course intro and designing the course with a consistent structure and orientation, we can build a better student experience.