We've just finished the latest run of our twice-yearly Learn Moodle MOOC and as usual, Helen and I are reading through the feedback provided by participants in order to improve the course for the next run, starting on 7th August 2016. Here’s a brief summary:
What we did well:
This time we had a record number of participants complete all thirty-one required elements of the course and gain their completer badge and certificate. 5,590 people signed up, and as usual with MOOCs, many never actually started, or had just one look around. 2079 people took the first steps and received a participant badge. 866 people officially completed the course. That is 15% of all enrolled users (which in itself is above the average for MOOCs) and 42% of the 2079 who received the participant badge. We also had a record number (88%) of users who told us they had either never used Moodle or only used it a little.
Step by step approach
We decided this time to restrict access to the weekly sections, only displaying them at the start of each week. This was in response to comments in previous Learn Moodle MOOCs that participants felt overwhelmed by the long list of activities they saw from day 1. Now, activities were released a few at a time, but those who wished to forge ahead were still free to experiment in their practice courses, accessing all the video tutorials and asking questions in the forums. According to our final feedback results, only 8% didn't like this, whereas 67% were definitely in favour and 25% didn't have strong feelings about it.
Another change that we made based on feedback from the previous course was to have a separate “Any questions…” support forum each week, rather than just one for the whole MOOC. This worked well in that it made it easier for participants to find answers to their queries for that particular week in (slightly) smaller forums rather than one unwieldy one. Additionally, we’ve now gained a delightful band of “regulars” - experienced Moodlers who enjoy helping out and who understand the course process. These volunteer regulars were responding to questions within minutes of posting, easing the burden on Helen and me. Participants who were previously “learners” are now returning as helper “teachers”, a great reminder of one of Martin Dougiamas’ five referents of Social Constructionism in the documentation Pedagogy.
All of us are potential teachers as well as learners - in a true collaborative environment we are both.
Learning is on the move, and for the first time we had a dedicated Learn Moodle mobile app. The feedback for the app was very positive: “very useful”, “works great”, “impressed with how easy it is to use”. Interestingly, the most popular suggestion for improving the app was being able to take a quiz using it - something currently being worked on by our mobile team
What we could do better:
Highlighting important dates
Out of the 31 required tasks, there was only one activity (a peer assessment workshop) which had a deadline. While we tried to make the deadline as clear as possible and sent out reminders, this still did not seem to satisfy some participants. We also had many questions about the course itself: end date, practice course availability, date of next MOOC etc. While these dates are in the MOOC FAQ, we feel perhaps a dedicated “Important dates” page would be both more obvious to participants and easier for us to point people to next time. So we’ll make one!
Provide more downloadable resources
Since the first MOOC we've added an Extra resources section where we have made the YouTube videos available for download for those with poor internet connections. Again based on feedback we will also make available transcripts of the videos in text format so participants can read along.
Clearer quiz questionsWhile the quiz questions were appreciated by some: “They really made you think - they were not easy and often I had to do some research and/or backtrack to confirm the answer”, others felt the answers needed to be more obvious, particularly for those whose first language is not English. We’re going to review all the quiz questions to make sure they are as easy to understand as possible.
Making Moodle better
Running a Moodle course with thousands of participants often brings to light areas which need improving or problems (bugs) which need fixing. Here are some that we discovered this time: MDL-53088, MOBILE-1384, MDL-37138, MDL-50310, MDL-51447.
Another bonus is that, although the course itself is in English, participants can use their native language in their own practice course. This resulted in a Swedish participant finding a mistranslation which he reported and which has now been fixed in the Swedish language pack.
Moving on with Moodle
People join the MOOC for a variety of reasons, some just to learn or improve their Moodle skills and others to explore Moodle with a view to implementing it in their organisation. Participants talked about restoring their practice courses to their MoodleCloud site in order to use it with their students, and one participant had such a favourable experience that he told us he’d signed a contract with his local Moodle Partner for implementing Moodle in his institution.
We really appreciated the very many lovely comments that we received in the final feedback. Here are a few:
I have found the course pitched at exactly the right level for a beginner. I particularly like how more advanced functionality is explained - you gain an understanding of the full power and potential of Moodle whilst at the same time, it does not allow you to rush ahead, giving you time to consolidate your basic learning. I have learned so much and am very keen to progress and learn more.
The course was perfect. I learned so much doing it and enjoyed it a lot. I have signed up to Moodlecloud and will continue to learn.
I learned a lot about some of the options available in Moodle that we have not utilized and am eager to share with my colleagues.
I think it gives just the right level of challenge and I like the flexible nature of learning at one's own pace.
A great course and I can't wait for the next one to start so that I can get a couple of my colleagues to participate.
Thanks so much for this course. It has been fantastic and extremely helpful. The mobile app is also brilliant and easy to use.
I was a complete beginner so I'm very much impressed with Moodle. Now I will need to outline how I will be using this in my present and future classes. I'm sure it will accommodate my ideas