Here is another great Moodle design that two teachers are trying for the first time.
The teachers wanted a course site to replicate as much of their current course design as possible. Of all the different Moodle tools, Forum ended up being the most versatile, because it respects groups and allows students to easily upload files to share with the entire class (unlike Directory or Assignment).
The two faculty members teach six sections between them, which we created as groups. This will keep the class discussions sorted, just to make it easier to find the work of your classmates. If you give each group and the course unique enrollment keys, then the students will automatically sort into the correct section when they log in for the first time. You only tell the students the enrollment key for their section. No one ends up using the course enrollment key.
Throughout the course, students write each paper using the same writing and peer editing process. Moodle discussion forums allow each student to both make their work available to the entire class and specifically to the individual who will be reviewing it. The reviewer then writes a formal response paper and uploads it to the same forum. This keeps the original and review paired together (using Reply in the Moodle forum).
When the time comes to submit the final draft, the student uploads the file to the Assignment object rather than the forum. Why? This is the “instructor reviewed” draft, intended for the teacher instead of their peers in class. This is set up as an “advanced file upload” assignment object, though I renamed this type “Upload multiple files” in the English language file, because that more specifically indicates what our users will be using it for. Students upload their instructor reviewed draft and metacritical essay, and then the teacher responds using the Moodle grading interface, not to mark grades, but rather to upload a Word file that includes teacher comments as floating notes. This exchange between the teacher and student remains private.
Students complete WEDGE (Writing Every Day Generates Excellence/Ease) activities to start each class. These are posted to a separate forum. We take advantage of a nice feature of Moodle that allows any participant in the class to start a forum topic. This way, the students take charge of the operation of the class, creating the new container for the day.
Of course, the teachers also use the site for routine class management, posting syllabi, links, and calendar events to help the course run smoothly. They chose to use the Topics course format and organize the page by assignment type.
Most announcements will simply be posted as text to the front page or sent via email — no need to take the extra steps to post to a News forum when the teachers are seeing the students most days of the week.
We considered using the Glossary activity for Word of the Day and then decided that a simple Forum would be just as easy to use and more familiar to the students. The teachers did not need the auto-linking feature that the glossary provides.
We only ran into two issues using these features. If the teacher creates a single forum prompt for all sections, then the students cannot reply to it! This Moodle “feature” is documented on Moodle.org but there do not seem to be any plans to change it. So, either the teacher posts the same prompt to three sections, the students post the prompt, or the teacher starts a thread to which you cannot reply and the students start a new thread to reply to it. A minor inconvenience that we will hopefully solve one day.
The other issue was the sharp dividing line between forums and assignments in terms of privacy of replies. Wouldn’t it be ideal if one could post a “private” forum reply that only the author of the original post could see? Or if a student could submit an assignment but allow the rest of the class to view it?
Do you have experience setting up a high school English course in Moodle? What other features have you leveraged to make your course hum?