There are a few features in Moodle that help students with organization. On the site level there is a helpful feature called My home / My Moodle that is good for keeping students enrolled in multiple courses organized. To keep the layout and structure of a course concise, a few best practices can be followed when developing a course. Lastly, Moodle does provide a few blocks which have features that are helpful for keeping students focused and updated.
The objective of this article is to provide you with the information necessary to create organized courses and Moodle sites which can be easily navigated and used by users.
Sections/Summary of the Steps
Before getting into the details of course organization, please note the following sections/steps.
Section 1: My home / My Moodle
The My home / My Moodle page is good for keeping students organized with all the courses he/she is enrolled in. My home is a customizable "dashboard" page that provides users with links to their courses and activities within them, such as unread forum posts and upcoming assignments.
Default home page
It is possible for an administrator to set the My home page as the default home page for all logged in users, instead of the Frontpage. To do so,
Navigate to Administration block > Site administration > Appearance > Navigation
On the page that loads, in the drop down menu for 'Default home page for users' select My home. Click 'Save changes' at the bottom of the page.
My home is now set as the default page that users are directed to upon logging in to the Moodle site.
Setting the default home page for new users
An administrator or manager can also decide on the blocks and configuration shown on new users' My home pages. To configure these settings:
Navigate to Administration block > Site administration > Appearance > Default My home page
(Note: if using Moodle 1.9, navigate instead to Administration > Modules > Blocks > Sticky blocks)
On the page that loads, you can add new blocks using the 'Add a block' drop-down menu. You can also change the placement of the blocks using the arrow icon in the block headers.
Disable user customization of My home
By default, users have the ability to customize their My home page (configuring, moving, adding, and deleting blocks) to suit their personal preferences. However, an administrator is able to prevent this.
Navigate to Administration block > Site administration > Users > Permissions > Define roles
On the page that loads edit the authenticated user role
On the next page that loads, scroll until you find 'Manage My home page blocks'; uncheck its corresponding box.
Finally, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and click 'Save changes'. All users will now be prevented from editing their My home page.
Section 2: Course Format and Layout
To help students stay organized in a course the built in course format options should be taken advantage of. The two most common course formats are Topics or Weekly format which can be selected or changed under the course settings area.
Formatting course sections with topics lends itself to rolling enrollment, or courses whose duration changes often, or where sequence is less important (though these are only suggestions). Often teachers will think about their course in terms of "modules" so topics work well - one topic per module.
Remember that it is possible to have many activities and resources in any given module.
Choosing weeks from the format selection menu will automatically fill in the dates, starting with whatever date you specify as your first day for the course, and incrementing each module by seven days thereafter. So if you start your course on Wednesday, each week will run from Wednesday to Tuesday. You may wish to start the week on Sunday or Monday prior to the actual first day of class, so that weeks will reflect the actual work/study week of your lesson (if applicable).
Let’s look at how to take advantage of the format of a course by looking at the topics format. Let’s say your course has 5 main topics, in the course settings it is possible to adjust the topics (or weeks for weeks format) to 5.
When viewing the course the topic outline is shown starting with an introduction topic box and the 5 other topic boxes for your course material. Usually the introduction topic is a good place for the overview of the course and the requirements/expectations.
When you structure the content within a topic it is a good idea to take advantage of the topic summary. In here you can place a short description of the topic and the learning objectives. The label resource can be used to provide additional structure and information leading up to a learning resource or activity.
Please review the two attached images below showing examples of the course layout and structure.
Section 3: Organizational Blocks
The following blocks help students stay focused and updated on activities and events in the course.
The Activities block lists and allows navigation between the different activities available in your course (Forums, Quizzes, Assignments, Lesson module and so forth). The activities list will grow as you add activities to your course. Therefore, the first time you enter your course, the only category that is listed is Forums. This is because one forum exists by default – the news forum.
Whenever you add a different activity or resource to your course, an icon will appear in this block representing the specific Moodle module. These icons will link to a list of all instances of that modules activity that appear throughout the course.
Upcoming Events Block
The Upcoming Events block displays future events in a summarized list. The number of days in advance is determined by the calendar_lookahead setting in Site Administration > Appearance > Calendar.
Events are generated directly from the calendar and/or activity deadlines, providing a link to full details or directly to the activity.
There are also links to Go to calendar... and add a +New Even+t....
If you click on a date, you will go to the day-view calendar for that day. If the title of the event is a link, and you click on it, you will be taken to that event.
The Recent Activity block lists course activity, such as updated resources and activities, forum posts and assignment submissions, since the user last accessed the course.
The activity report filter and generator may be accessed via the Full report of recent activity link.
The setting assignment_showrecentsubmissions in the Assignment settings (accessed via Administration > Modules > Activities) determines whether students can see other students' recent assignment submissions or not. Teachers can always see all recent submissions and students can always see their own recent submissions.
The Section Links block helps the student or teacher to quickly navigate to a particular topic/week section of the course (depending on whether the course uses either the "Topics" or "Weekly" format. The numbered links displayed within the block are the numbers assigned to the course topic/week sections.
Where a topic/week section is highlighted, the link to that section within the "Section Links" block is emboldened. In addition, a link for the highlighted section ("Jump to the current topic/week") is displayed. Click the "Jump to the current topic/week" link to display the highlighted section at the top of the screen.
If there are a large number of topic/week sections, the block displays every other even number i.e. 2, 4 etc. or every fifth numbered topic/week section.
Administration Block - from a student's view
From this block a student can gain access to the grade book where he/she can view the grades for activities (assignments) and quizzes.