Implementation and results
Staff at the Centre for Teaching and Learning would like to thank all those who took part in the survey on the learning management system Moodle in January 2018. The results have provided us with valuable information to work with.
The purpose of the survey was to gather information on the use of Moodle and find out about users’ attitudes towards the system. The results will be used to improve services for system users.
Four surveys were set up in the K2 survey system in Ugla. Two of these were for students, in English and Icelandic (18 questions), and two were for teaching staff, in English and Icelandic (22 questions). 10 questions appeared on all surveys, two of which were open-ended questions.
A total of 850 users responded to the survey: 738 students and 112 members of teaching staff (see figure 2).
672 students (91%) answered the Icelandic version of the survey and 66 (9%) the English version.
107 members of teaching staff (96%) answered the Icelandic version of the survey and 5 (4%) the English version.
An email was sent on 17 January 2018 to all active students at UI and all active members of teaching staff for the academic year 2017-2018. The email contained links to all four surveys. Recipients were informed of the purpose of the survey, i.e. to improve the teaching and learning environment at the University of Iceland, and people who had used Moodle were asked to take part. These were open online surveys which did not require respondents to sign in. A reminder was sent to all those who had received the first email, regardless of whether they had answered the survey or not. This was because the survey was open and therefore it was not possible to tell who had responded. Recipients were informed that the survey would be closed on 31 January. A reminder was also sent via a message in UI Moodle to users who had been active after September 2017. Links to the surveys were also posted on the UI Moodle dashboard.
The open-ended questions elicited 447 responses (students=332 and teaching staff=115) which provide a valuable overview of both the strengths and weaknesses of Moodle. You can read more about users’ responses to the open-ended questions here: Responses from students to the open-ended questions and Responses from teaching staff to the open-ended questions.
Results from individual multiple choice questions can be accessed here: Results from multiple choice questions (only in Icelandic).
How satisfied are users with Moodle?
The majority of users are fairly happy with Moodle. 70% of both students and teaching staff responded that they were either very or rather satisfied with the system.
Around 75% of students said the system was rather or very easy. Most members of teaching staff claimed that the level of complexity depended on what they were doing (42%), whilst 47% of teaching staff responded that the system was either rather or very easy.
How familiar are users with the system?
Considering how long respondents had been using Moodle, the majority of them should have been quite familiar with the system. The vast majority of teaching staff who responded (91%) had been using Moodle for two academic years or longer, compared to 44% of students. 32% of students had experience of Moodle from upper secondary school or another former school. The open-ended questions revealed that some students also had experience of the system in the role of teacher.
Students required little assistance and seemed to be able to manage most things. Around half of students said that they had not required help (49%). Students seemed most likely to ask fellow students for assistance. Only 4% of teaching staff said that they had not required assistance with Moodle. Most members of teaching staff turned to online Moodle tutorials (65%) and to the Centre for Teaching and Learning (64%), and the next largest group to a colleague in the school or faculty (34%). The majority of teaching staff (63%) have attended some kind of workshop or seminar on the system.
In their answers to the open-ended questions, students reported ignorance of Moodle amongst teaching staff. There were also a large number of comments concerning incorrect use of the system or certain tools. It would then appear that a number of teachers at the University of Iceland need to improve their knowledge of the system. The University must consider how it can improve support services to teaching staff in order to remedy this lack of knowledge and encourage more efficient use of the system.
“Some teachers clearly need to be taught how to use Moodle better, because for some courses it’s brilliant but a complete headache for others.”
“A lot of teachers haven’t got a clue how to use Moodle.”
“Teachers often don’t seem to really know how to use Moodle or what you can do with the system.”
Consistency and one system
Students are crying out for consistency; course webs are formatted differently and the same features are put in different locations. They are also unhappy with the fact that there are two different systems, Ugla and Moodle, used for course webs. Students report that sometimes both systems are even used for the same course. To make matters worse, other programs and/or systems are often used as well. Students feel that this causes constant confusion. They receive notifications variously in Ugla or Moodle and information on the same assignment may even be in many different locations. It doesn’t help that the University recording system, Panopto, is either connected to Ugla or Moodle which means that students need to know whether to log in from Ugla or Moodle in order to watch recordings. If a teacher uses both Ugla and Moodle for the same course, students need to know which system the teacher chooses to use for storing recordings.
“There is a certain consistency lacking between teachers and their use of Moodle. It’s actually completely unacceptable that a student has to learn 3-5 different interfaces in Moodle depending on course and teaching staff. Files are put in different locations, grades, assignments, etc.”
How well are course webs organised in Moodle?
Students seem on the whole fairly satisfied with course webs and their organisation is usually reasonably good, see figure 3.
Students’ comments responding to the open-ended questions, however, indicate that teaching staff need more and better support. Almost all students complained about things related to a lack of organisation regarding course webs, both layout, e.g. the categorisation and arrangement of material (difficult and often time-consuming to find material, “like a jungle”), and management of the website, e.g. the recording of grades. There were many comments from students complaining that:
- material doesn’t seem to be sorted, e.g. files organised into folders
- no headlines used, which could make it easier for users to scan material on the website
- teachers use the wrong tool or fail to set certain things up, e.g. File used instead of Assignment
- no overview of all assignment deadlines in one place
- course calendar is not used
- grades are not recorded in Moodle
Students also mentioned things that they felt were done well in Moodle, but this was far less common. For example, a few teachers were singled out in particular for their well-organised course webs.
Improvements and changes
With regards to Moodle’s weaknesses, students complained about the changes to the user dashboard made when the system was updated last summer. Students are no longer able to move and hide courses on their home page; previously students could, for example, hide courses they had completed. Now Moodle automatically sorts courses under the tabs In progress, Future and Past. The sorting of courses requires the teacher to record the course’s end date, while the start date is created automatically when the teaching website is set up. If a teacher fails to record the end date, old courses are displayed with current courses, see more details in students’ responses to the open-ended questions. A solution to this issue must be found this summer, when the system is due to be updated, e.g. the end date for a course will synchronise automatically with Ugla if possible.
Teaching staff mentioned various improvements they would like to see made to Moodle. For example, with regards to forums, better links with Ugla regarding grading, more control over the appearance of course webs, etc. All suggestions will be taken into consideration. See more here: suggestions from teaching staff in response to the open-ended questions.
Why Moodle and what do teaching staff use most?
When teaching staff were asked why they started using Moodle, the most common replies were:
- to have all course materials in one place (44%),
- to be able to construct the course web as needed (43%),
- and to use quizzes in Moodle (38%).
Services and assistance
67% of teaching staff said they were very or rather satisfied with the service provided by the Centre for Teaching and Learning. In their comments, teaching staff variously thanked the Centre for its excellent service and complained that services were inadequate. Services related to Moodle need to be better organised at the Centre for Teaching and Learning and improvements considered. Ideas from teaching staff are very welcome.
Proposals from the Centre for Teaching and Learning regarding improvements to support services, based on the results of the survey
The results indicate that teaching staff require more education in layout and management of course webs. They need to be introduced to the main tools and familiarised with best practice.
Perhaps we need to set up a checklist that a teacher can refer to when organising and developing a course web. This could include carefully selected requirements that a course web would have to meet to be considered satisfactory, information on where certain things are best placed on the web, e.g. recordings and the course calendar, necessary features, points to consider when developing a course web, etc.
We could also have a Moodle template course web created, showing the essential tools already set up. Since different courses have different requirements, two or three templates could be available for teachers to choose between. The templates would have certain basic features in common, e.g. location of recordings, calendar, etc. A teacher could then fine-tune the course web depending on the requirements of the course.
Ideally, teaching staff should also be required to complete a basic course on Moodle before they start using the system, or at least they should have completed such a course within a certain time, shortly after they begin using Moodle. For example, we could offer such a course on Moodle, set up in such a way that a teacher could work on it independently, with access to certain sections of the course controlled based on the teacher’s progress. We could also offer follow-up courses on more complicated tools in the system and/or for more advanced users. Teaching staff also have the opportunity to take courses offered by Moodle Partners. These courses are sometimes free, but it is also possible to buy courses or even have them specifically tailored to the needs of UI. It is not guaranteed that these courses use the same template as is used in UI Moodle. Things could look a little different than they look in our system and be arranged differently.
Instructions on Moodle at the University of Iceland are rather limited. The instructions must be maintained and updated when changes are made to the system. The old support page has been taken down because it was not maintained and had become obsolete. Brief instructions are now available in Moodle (under Moodle Support) but Centre for Teaching and Learning is currently working on creating a new instruction page.