Sometimes departments are inclined to put all Assignment submissions in a single Moodle space. Below, we aim to convince you not to do this. While it may work well from an administrative point of view, the experience of assessors and students is usually a different story. Instead we recommend that assessors and administrators cooperate to make the process run smoothly with the assignments located on their respective Moodle spaces for each module.
Below is a summary of the reasons.
- Students (who often give negative feedback about clutter on Moodle pages) tend to struggle with many very similar links. This is an accessibility issue which will particularly affect students with visual and mobility impairments and dyslexia. We are legally obliged to make anticipatory adjustments.
- It slows down the page load times as Turnitin pulls in data for every student in the Moodle space. This is true for the Moodle space front page, and for each Turnitin instance, which has to load data for a massive cohort every time.
- If the Assignment isn't in the course space, how will students know/remember it exists and be reminded of their deadlines? Moodle won't be able to help you remind them because there won't be link to it in the course's Activities block, or Calendar, or Upcoming Events. It will look as though there are no assignments set up for that module - because there aren't, they're in a central area. This subverts the aspects of Moodle course areas designed to be student-friendly, and instead turns Moodle into something arcane and difficult at the student face.
- In the MyFeedback report each assignment will not be shown in the context of the module the assessment relates to, removing the ability for students to filter by module.
- Students' personal Moodle Calendar (on their My Home page) will become bloated with irrelevant information about other students' Assignment deadlines. The page will load more slowly. Students are consequently prone to become disaffected with Moodle's Calendar and stop looking at it, missing the relevant information.
- Students’ Gradebook - one record of their feedback and marks which ideally is available for them to feed into future work - will be similarly bloated with irrelevant information and its page will load more slowly. These things combined will militate against students actually using the feedback their markers have taken the time and effort to give them.
- Another cause of disorientation, students won't be able to use the Navigation bar to return to the front page of their course area - they will have to navigate via their My Home page.
- Teachers’ view of the Gradebook will be inundated with irrelevant entries for other colleagues' students and assignments. It will be very slow to load, and they will spend a lot of time scrolling through the superfluous information. In addition they will not conveniently be able to see which of their students have submitted, and which haven’t. Yes, somebody could set up Groups to mitigate this - but that's an extra thing to do.
- Many Students submitting to a single course area increases the likelihood of submitting to the wrong Assignment by mistake. If using Turnitin, there will be a high match between the original submission to the wrong place, and the correct submission - a staff member will need to manually unmatch the two.
- What about linking directly from a module Moodle area to the precise location of the particular Turnitin assignment? That might help students find their assignment but it doesn't change the fact that Turnitin has to load huge amounts of irrelevant student data, which slows it down. It also increases student disorientation.
- Many in a Tutor role marking in a single course area increases the likelihood of mistakes e.g. if editing the grades directly in the Gradebook.
- The shared Moodle area will have a huge cohort of students. This makes it difficult to check who has submitted against who should have submitted and take measures accordingly. Enabling blind marking / anonymity exacerbates this.
- Inefficiences and confusion with External Examiners - who may need to take their own samples of marked work - being presented with irrelevant records in the Gradebook.
- In some cases it increases the possibility of enrolment errors - a student may be successfully enrolled on the 'main' course, but only find out at the last minute that they don't have access to the 'submission' course.
- Taking assignments out of their module Moodle spaces has consequences. Students may miss the assessment criteria they need to succeed. When students use the MyFeedback report, the link from the feedback to the Moodle space will not point to the module.
Digital Education understands the pressures on staff which make it tempting to put all assignments in one place - they relate to whose job it is to set them up, and who monitors them, and who prints them out on demand. But putting assignments in one place doesn't work well for assessors or students. Talk with Digital Education about alternatives which recognise that staff and students need to protect their time and balance competing needs.
If you must put all assignments in a single Moodle space, do use Groups and Groupings to ensure that students only see the relevant ones.