For many people, the front page of their Moodle installation consists either of a list of courses, categories or a news section with a few other things down the side such as upcoming events. It occurs to me that this is not the most effective use of this area of Moodle. I am going to throw some ideas around for making better use of it.
Let’s start off by stating the obvious. These ideas will not suit everyone, everyone’s needs are different. If they work for you, great, if not maybe they can be inspiration for something that does.
I would like to start off by looking at what the purpose of the front page is for Moodle. I see it as performing the following:
- a means to get to your courses/ enrol in new courses.
- a means to get important information to students (not necesarily about courses but other things as well).
- a means to encourage students to explore.
- a means to put students in an open, creative and ideal learning frame of mind.
If the front page of my Moodle installation can achieve all of this elegantly then it will be a valuable resource for my students rather than just be a means to get through to courses.
There is one important caveat however and that is that it must be simple and obvious. Chunking thoery suggests that we can concentrate on between 3 and 7 different things at any given time. Given this and the assumption that people will already have things on their mind, we don’t want to provide information overload. This will only lead to them ignoring most of the content on there.
Given this, I have decided that the first two points should be moved off the front page. I will provide a link to myMoodle and also a link to the list of courses/ categories. Both of these links will be big and bold so that they are obvious and easy to click. This will be area 1 on my front page.
The next part is a means to encourage the students to explore and put them in a learning mindset. This will be done with two blocks. The first will be a Random Glossary Entry block that will link to a glossary with Quotes and other random interesting facts and links.
I will also have a html block that lists a weekly creativity building game. These games are effective, fun and quick to set up as well as play. You can find a list of these games here. I will also create a forum which links to this block and allows the students to discuss each weeks topic. I will provide motivation to get involved by offering a prize (Say a chocolate bar) to the most creative response each week.
The above two blocks will be area 2.
Area 3 will be a banner at the top of the page. This will be created by the students and change on a regular basis. I will ask the Creative Arts faculty to help manage getting a different students or group of students to create a banner each fortnight. The students involved will be acknowledged. We can also have fun with it by having special banners made up for special events such as awards nights or sports finals or exam period and so on.
Area 4 will be a news section. I will make sure that news is added regularly and is a combination of general information such as upcoming parent/ teacher nights and so on, and acknowledgment of student achievement. This way it is both informative and motivational.
Now I have a front page that has been simplified into 4 specific areas. It is engaging, motivational and involves the students. It should be a place that students want to visit rather than have to visit.