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Prepare for new academic year guide

Get ready for the new academic year with our preparation guide.

How to use this guide

This guide is part of LEaD's Digital Learning Design service. It  shares best practices for the design of Moodle modules, which LEaD has collected from across the university. It aims to help you to design and deliver blended and online teaching.

You can download the guidance as an editable Word document which can be adapted for your context. Use it to help develop a consistent experience for students at school or programme levels.

There are five key areas of design, and we have given an indication of how long it will take you to carry out each item. One effective way of using it is to start with the first two areas, Module organisation and structure and Assessment, as these two aspects of module design are most important for students. Following all the recommendations in these two areas should take approximately three hours.

However, you may have different priorities and can choose to focus your efforts on one or more of the other areas. The other main areas we have covered are Communication and engagement, Learning resources, videos and multimedia, and Learning activities and synchronous teaching.

Finally, there is a Module go-live checklist which you may find helpful to use before setting your module live for students. We estimate it would take one hour to check your module using this guidance.

Module organisation and structure (60-90 mins to implement)

Activity When Who Time needed
By default, modules will use the City Course Format, providing students with a consistent experience across module pages. In some programmes in some Schools, the grid format is being used. Prior to module release to students Automated process n/a
Import or rollover content from the previous year. Please note that imported content is immediately available; however, the rollover process runs overnight. In line with the release of annual and termly module pages. Module leader 10-15 mins
Use sections and blocks to provide a clear, logical structure. Name sections using topic titles, week numbers and dates. Prior to module release to students Module leader 15-20 mins

Provide an overview of the module in the opening section. Include:

  • The module specification and programme handbook.

  • Information on the teaching schedule.

  • A link to the module’s online timetable and a reminder to students to check the timetable regularly.

  • Tutorial group information (if any).

  • Links to institutional policies, e.g. Appropriate Online Behaviour, Lecture Capture usage and any relevant School policies.

  • A link to the module evaluation.

Prior to module release to students

 








After the end of the module

Module leader 20-30 mins

Provide links to student institutional guidance and support services. Please note that some or all of these links can be made available through your School information block or through a programme Moodle page.

Items you may want to include:

Prior to module release to students Module leader 10-15 mins
Setup a course image. The course image appears on the My Moodle page and on the module overview block. It helps your students recognise each module as unique. Prior to module release to students Module leader 5-10 mins

Related guidance

Assessment (60-90 mins to implement)

Activity When Who Time needed
Provide an accessible (text-based) overview of all module assessments, which shows assessment types, weightings and due dates. Prior to module release to students Module leader 10-20 mins

Provide links to departmental and School policies, guidance, and student support services. Please note that some or all of these links can be made available through a programme Moodle page.

Items you may want to include:

Prior to module release to students Module leader 5-10 mins

Setup all assessment points in a consistent location on module pages across a programme:

  • Submission points.

  • Resubmission points.

  • Give students an opportunity to submit a practice assignment or undertake a practice quiz online before their first online assignment or assessment.

Prior to assignment submission and undertaking an online quiz

Module leader

Course officer

30-40 mins

For each individual assessment, you may want to: 

  • Indicate the format, word length, assessment criteria, and key instructions.

  • Provide mock exam papers and coursework exemplars if relevant.

  • Ensure grade items are hidden while marking and moderation are taking place.

  • Make grades and feedback available to students through Moodle. For offline assessments, provide a link to grades stored in eVision.

Prior to module release to students Module leader 15-20 mins

Related guidance

Communication and engagement (60-90 mins to implement)

Activity When Who Time needed

Record a short welcome video (1-2 mins) to introduce yourself and the module. Or create your introduction using a presentation or an image and text.

Use this introduction to explain:

  • Your background and areas of expertise.

  • How students will be taught.

  • How do you expect students to use the module page to support their studies, and how much time they should spend online each week.

  • How you will communicate with students and how they can communicate with you and the module team.

Prior to module release to students Module leader 20-30 mins
Add Module Leader information and contact details, including office hours for staff teaching on the module. Add this as a block. Prior to module release to students Module leader 5-10 mins

Provide a brief weekly plan detailing the following:

  • Any required reading.

  • Instructions for any online learning activities.

  • An indication of how much time students should spend preparing.

You can use text, a document, a presentation or a recorded video to create the weekly plan.

Please note in Moodle 4, the Label resource will not appear in the new course navigation index. Therefore, you should not use the label resource for any important information. Instead, you can use the Page resource.

During the module, as required Module leader

Lecturer
20-25 mins
Set up required communication tools on the module page, such as Forums and Quickmail (basic email tool). Prior to module release to students Module leader 5-10 mins

Use Forum or Quickmail to:

  • Send students a weekly reminder of any preparatory learning they should be doing in advance of taught sessions.

  • Send any key information (for example, around assessment).

During the module, as required Module leader

Lecturer
10-15 mins

Related guidance

Learning resources, videos and multimedia (110-170 mins to implement)

Activity When Who Time needed

Add (or review) an online reading list.

  • Structure your reading list by topic.

  • Note which items are essential and which are recommended.

  • Optional: Embed each topic’s reading resources into the corresponding section within Moodle.

  • Help is available via the Reading Lists Online guidance and via your Subject Librarian.

Prior to module release to students Module leader 25-35 mins
Add Lecture Capture recordings. You can add a link to the entire series before the module starts or add each recording after each lecture. Prior to module release to students Module leader

Lecturer
10-20 mins

Add lecture materials and any related resources which help students to prepare for their lectures.

  • Use meaningful file names.

  • Clearly describe all resources using the description field.

  • Check that resources are set to be visible.

  • Provide author documents (e.g. PowerPoint, Word) as they are more accessible for students and pdf versions (for mobile access).

At least two days prior to the lecture Module leader

Lecturer
10-15 mins

There are three main ways of adding multimedia resources to your module:

  • Video Resource enables you to add any of your Kaltura MediaSpace video and audio resources to Moodle modules for students to access.

  • You can embed videos into a Label, Page or Book. These videos can be your own MediaSpace videos or videos from an external source such as YouTube or Box of Broadcasts.

  • Please note: Do not embed more than three videos directly on your module page using Labels. Videos embedded via Labels load simultaneously as the student accesses the module and can significantly slow down the loading of the module. If you use lots of videos, you should use embed code to add the videos to a Page resource.

Prior to module release to students and during the module as required Module leader 5-10 mins
Use Anthology Ally to check that your learning content is accessible to all students. Ally provides accessibility feedback and assistance on individual resources and on the module overall. It can also automatically enable alternative formats for students. Prior to module release to students and during the module as required Module leader 60-90 mins

Related guidance

Learning activities and synchronous teaching (70-130 mins to implement)

Activity When Who Time needed

When adding online learning activities:

  • Use meaningful activity titles.

  • Clearly describe all activities using the description field and ensure they are set to visible.

  • Please note that the label resource type can no longer be used as it creates accessibility issues.

  • For lengthier instructions, use the Page resource. Pages are accessible to students via the module’s navigation index.

At the start of the module and during the module as required Module leader
 
Lecturer
10-20 mins
Enable activity completion, as students find it helpful for managing their learning, and it enables staff to track student progress. At the start of the module and during the module as required Module leader 10-20 mins
Plan your live online session sufficiently in advance, including any intended interactions and regular breaks. Before the first live online session Module leader 10-20 mins
Provide guidance for students on participating in live online lectures.

Set clear expectations around how students are expected to participate in the environment, including on the use of microphones and chat features.
At the start of the first live online session and during the module as required Module leader
 
Lecturer
5-10 mins
Ensure that students have access to the meeting links for the live online sessions on the relevant Moodle module(s). At the start of the module Module leader 10-20 mins
Make recordings of live sessions and provide links to recordings on Moodle module. Include other asynchronous alternatives (such as discussion forums) for anyone unable to attend at the scheduled time. During each live online session and during the module as required Module leader
 
Lecturer
5-10 mins
Moderate online collaborative student activities such as Forums, Glossaries, Chats, Wikis and Databases. During the module, as required Module leader

Lecturer
20-30 mins

Related guidance

Module go live check (60-90 mins to carry out)

Activity When Who Time needed
Check that all colleagues who need access to the Moodle module are enrolled. When the module is ready to be updated

Module leader

Course officer

5 mins
Check groups/groupings have been set up and students added to the groups. Prior to module release to students

Module leader

Course officer

5-10 mins
Check for any out-of-date information or references to previous years. Prior to module release to students Module leader

Lecturer
5-10 mins
Check that all section titles and files have meaningful names and descriptions.   Prior to module release to students Module leader 5-10 mins
Check that all links have meaningful names and that they work. If you have linked to other Moodle modules, update with this year's modules. Prior to module release to students Module leader 10-15 mins
Test that quizzes are working as expected. If your quizzes make use of images check that they are all present. Prior to module release to students Module leader 5-10 mins
Test that all multimedia files play as expected and that they have accurate captions or separate transcripts. Prior to module release to students Module leader 10-15 mins
Check your module from a student's perspective. Prior to module release to students Module leader 10-15 mins
Make the module visible. At the start of the module Module leader 5 mins

Related guidance

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License