We took some time to talk about what we really wanted.
What is Moodle? Is it a learning tool, an alert system, a news site, eye candy, etc etc. Then we talked about what we wanted students to do. What was the workflow of entering the site, finding a course, checking assignments, etc. Was moodle the best way to deliver site announcements? Did we want them glancing at miscellaneous news items that may or may not be used by the teacher? All these questions were discussed as we looked to streamline the process of getting a student into the site and onto the learning material.
We set out to develop something that met these needs and to do it so that there was nothing that would distract a learner from the end goal: finding and interacting with content.
At a college your needs might be different but at K12 we have first graders on up who could all potentially use the system. We wanted the site to look nice but content is king and the site should only facilitate the display of the content and not overpower it.
It is also very important to look for duplication of content displayed. You have course categories in the main area and then you have a block doing the same thing on the side. Which one should the learning click on??? This duplicity whether you realize it or not increases the cognitive load and anxiety for a first time user. The first time user simply wants to find their teacher's course and get in. Make it simple as to where they need to go to do that and only provide one path to do so.
Since we view Moodle as a tool we designed it to do a few things quickly and easily with no guessing as to where the learner should go.
- Authenticate. Homepage only has a login.
- Find a course or check enrolled courses. Dashboard directs students to content and learning.
- Complete classroom assignments and interactions.
Our theme is designed to simplify this process. The homepage is little more than a traffic cop directing the student to the content. Quick and efficient.