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A new Moodle home page: “I am studying towards a degree, not a group of related courses”

At Sussex University we have taken steps to reconceptualise our learning space from the point of view of the students. Students understand their educational journey to be one towards accreditation in a degree programme, but in the past our online space only reflected the compartmentalised courses (modules *) that made up their studies. As of March 2014 we created a new home page that included information about their overall degree.

Why did we bother?

The idea behind the project is to help consolidate student learning and provide a bridge between courses. Whilst success in each course represents a milestone in the students’ educational journey, this home page is intended to represent the bigger picture, in line with the way in which students think about their studies. We even included degree programme (intended) learning outcomes – what they might hope to get out of their three years of study!

Strategically the project has been designed to help improve results in the UK National Student Survey (NSS); a survey which has an influence on UK universities desirability to prospective students. It gathers data about the students’ overall perception of their degree programme. This page provides a holistic view of their degree programme.

What does it look like?

The students have a new Moodle front page with the title of their degree and a summary of programme information.

course page title bar

The page includes a number of panels with different information types. The first section of panels (at the top of the page) are likely to be of most interest or most commonly used by the students.

These include:

  • A list of this year’s courses – basically links to their taught Moodle courses.
  • Their week’s timetable (including deadlines for Moodle activities)
  • And their recent assessment feedback across all modules. By clicking on a feedback item within the panel they are given a dialog box with more information about the notification and links to all the course feedback.

course page first tier

The second section of panels includes:

  • a list of academic advisors
  • A list of expected degree programme learning outcomes
  • And their assessment deadlines.

course page second tier

And the third section of panels lists students reps and other Moodle courses.

course page third tier

There is also a footer that includes links to their University portfolio system, a skills help centre, the careers centre and any subject societies.

course page footer

The project has been largely an integration with our student system where the information otherwise resides. It has included the addition of degree level assessment and feedback pages. A blog post about these pages will follow.

* Note: For the purposes of this blog post we have called Sussex courses “degree programmes” and Sussex modules “courses” to make it easier to understand for people familiar with Moodle nomenclature