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Beginning-of-Semester Moodle Productivity Tips

Mon Jan 1, 2024 at 07:30 AM

Starting a new semester always brings much to do to make the transition go smoothly. Getting a jump on planning your course design and using Moodle tools can help facilitate the process. This teaching tip shares a few ideas to save you time at the start of the semester. If you would like one-on-one assistance, schedule an appointment with an instructional designer at e-LIS.

Start of the Semester Moodle and Course Design Tips

When it comes to beginning a new semester, you most likely have several tasks to complete; for example, writing the syllabus, setting up your gradebook, and updating your course content. The good news is that several Moodle features can save you time and energy in navigating your process.  

Importing Previous Renditions of a Course 

If you are teaching a course you taught previously, you are already in a good position to start the semester with some structure. Moodle allows you to import any former courses into a new course shell. 

To import your course, simply navigate to the course where you will import the content, click the More tab at the top of your course, and then select Course Reuse from the dropdown menu. Locate your old course and select it and if you want to import everything, you can simply click on the jump to the next step . If you know you will teach a specific course in an upcoming semester, we would recommend requesting a practice course that enables you to modify and prep for the upcoming semester.  

Using the SpeedDater 

If you are working with an imported course, most likely you will need to modify and update due dates for assignments, quizzes, and forum discussions. The SpeedDater in Moodle allows you to update due dates for everything in your course all at once. This is a much more efficient process than manually updating dates in each activity. 

To find the SpeedDater, select the Reports tab at the top of your course. Select the Activity Completion report, then open the dropdown menu and select SpeedDater. You will be able to view and edit the due dates for all activities, or filter by the type of activity, such as assignments, forums or quizzes. 

Building a New Course

You may find yourself needing to build a brand new course in a short amount of time. In that case, we have a few specialized tips for you. First, we recommend using your syllabus and course schedule as an outline or skeleton to build out the Moodle page for any new courses you will teach. 

Decide whether you want to have your course be week-to-week, module-based, or topic-based. By starting from your syllabus/schedule, you can easily name the different sections of your course page based on week/topic, and you can quickly identify areas where you will need to build activities, such as assignments, forums, or quizzes. 

Another tip is to make a “Welcome to the Course” section. In the general section, you can add your syllabus, a short introduction video or welcome page, and any other important resources or information relevant to the course. We also encourage you to create a Student Questions forum where students can ask and view all peer questions; this will minimize the number of repetitive questions you have to answer via email.

Collaborating with an Instructional Designer  

Remember, you are not alone in this! An instructional designer (ID) can help you in any phase of the course building or updating process. The e-LIS ID team specializes in all things Moodle and online/hybrid teaching. We can assist you with course building, gradebook setup, course layout updates, building quizzes and interactive H5P activities, embedding videos, and so much more.   

References and Resources 

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About the Authors

Chad Bousley is an Instructional Designer at e-LIS, who helps faculty with online course design, creating interactive activities and implementing online teaching best practices.  Outside of the classroom, Chad enjoys learning foreign languages and playing guitar. 

Danielle Nicholson (she/her) is an Instructional Designer at e-LIS. She helps faculty use technology to make their online teaching experience easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable. She also hosts workshops on tech tools like Gmail, Google Drive, and YouTube. In her free time, she enjoys reading and nature walks.

Edited by Rachel Smydra, Faculty Fellow, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Oakland University. 

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