Lecturers are expected to create content on VLEs such as moodle, sometimes with no training in technicalities or design (be it graphic or instructional). Below are some pitfalls noted while dealing with helpdesk queries relating to Falmouth University’s VLE, Learning Space.
- Poor “Chunking”
Each module has its own page split into weekly sections. Within a section, you need to balance the number of clicks a student makes against the amount of scrolling they have to do.
The use of Folders or Pages or downloadable documents can greatly reduce the need to scroll and allow the student to grasp an overview more easily. However, it is all about balance: don’t ask students to download multiple documents that each only contain a paragraph of text.
Chunking is worth planning from the start as it is time-consuming to put right once content has been created.
- Superfluous images
Use of icon-style images can be appealing and helpful when done professionally. However, over-use of large images that aim to function like icons can create clutter and confusion. If you are not “graphic design aware” then keep things simple and avoid.
- Large images
Whether an image serves a serious purpose or is merely “eye candy”, it needs to be kept to an optimal filesize. This is an issue most lecturers are unaware of and have no training in, resulting in some module pages that require students to download 100 (yes, sometimes 100) times more data than is necessary. Staff need to know how to resize and compress an image BEFORE they upload uploading and embed it.
- Poor text formatting
This may result from cutting and pasting from either a webpage or a Word document, or may be overzealous formatting, with copious amounts of bold, underlining and colouring. To avoid carrying unwanted formatting into Learning Space, paste plain text into the editor (on a mac, Cmd+Shift+z) rather than a simple paste (Cmd+z). Thereafter, exercise restraint when tempted to add formatting.
Presenting the same thing in the same way is difficult to achieve in a UK HE setting where module leads may be left to “get on with it” with little guidance. If you can’t be consistent with your colleagues, then do strive to be consistent within your module and “chunk” in the same way each week.
You’ll have noticed that the above all relate to basic content presentation and not to choice and use of activity tools. That is for another time!