Aim for high standards of usability and student (and colleague) experience - as a Moodle editor you're also an interface designer. The aspects listed below explain how you can use page elements in Moodle to make it easier to navigate the content. Many of the suggestions below also count towards making reasonable adjustments to cater for students with disabilities, such as autism, dyslexia and visual impairments (Jisc, 2015).
The way you structure your course is important, as it will guide students to the order in which they will access materials. If your department uses a Moodle template then the structure of your sections are probably already predefined. This helps students navigate, since they will be familiar with the structure of your course from other departmental modules they are undertaking. You can view a list of existing Moodle templates in the Moodle course request form (also available from the Moodle Staff Help menu). If your department doesn't already have a Moodle template you can request one be created from E-Learning Environments.
Students will expect to see a course structure that matches to some degree with the chronological order in which they will take the course. Therefore, induction materials should be introduced first, such as explaining how the course will run and how to communicate with tutors and other students. Then the topics for the course will be introduced (usually in the order in which they will be taught), and at some point students will need to submit assessments and evaluate the course.
The 'serial position effect' states that most attention is given to things that appear at the beginning and end (kissmetrics.com), so place your most important topics first, then the content for your course in the middle (since students will need to access this material so will seek it out) followed by the areas of secondary importance, that may occur later in the term. Here is one suggestion for laying out your course content:
E.g. Get started, Discuss, <Topics 1-10>, Assessment, Evaluate.
The order in which you write your content is also important. Lynda.com has a short course on Writing for the Web. You can dip into this rather than taking it sequentially. Relevant parts include:
By using heading styles you can ensure that your heading size, font and colour remain consistent. Moodle provides 3 heading sizes: large, medium and small, which you can use to define nested areas of content. Using headings will automatically add space around these areas to increase readability (usability.gov) and this also helps students with dyslexia to navigate more rapidly (Jisc, 2015).
Introducing each topic and set of resources gives the students some context to what they are seeing on the page. Think about how you would introduce a topic in a face to face setting and write a concise introduction that covers similar information. Clear, unambiguous instructions also help students with autism to understand what they need to do and is an easy adjustment you can make to your course to help these students learn (Jisc, 2015).
Many Moodle courses have built up large lists of files and links. You can make it easier to navigate these by grouping them under useful headings. You can add headings to labels on your Moodle course homepage and then click and drag the links under the relevant heading. Alternatively, you might want to place them in to Moodle page or book to keep the Moodle course homepage clear - see minimise cognitive load below.
If a cohort is broken into groups of students, it is useful to use these groups within Moodle to hide discussions and materials from those who don't need to see them.
Groups can enable group collaboration and simplify administrative tasks, such as filtering assignments, or scheduling tutor meetings, by filtering out the 'noise' from other groups.
This helps with minimising cognitive load (see below) and may encourage students to participate in online activities, since they can occur at a smaller (group wide, as opposed to cohort wide) scale.
To use groups and groupings in your course, pleaser refer to: M13 - Groups and groupings
The more information and links you provide on the Moodle course home page, the more students need to process in order to find what they are looking for.
If you display a lot of documents and links you might want to consider either:
If your course is long, you can avoid the "scroll of death" by changing your course layout to tabs format* or by changing the course layout to 'show one section per page', so students only see one section of content at a time.
*Be careful with tabs format that the tabs do not wrap to more than 2 lines across the page, as this may cause navigation problems for students with dyslexia. Keeping the section names short will help with this. Also remember that your screen size may be a lot wider than most, so you might like to test this on a laptop screen.
Conditional release can be used to release content gradually, based either on what students have already accessed, or by date.
The following blocks can help students to navigate your course:
Common Timetable - provides a link to the common timetable for your module, as well as a personal timetable link that will take each tutor and student to their own personal timetable. If you want to link to a programme or department timetable instead, or add an additional module timetable, you can edit the settings to do this.