Responses from teaching staff to the open-ended questions

Teaching staff submitted 115 responses to the open-ended questions.

The teachers’ survey included three open-ended questions as well as a field for anything else teaching staff wished to say about Moodle:

  1. Are there any tools in Moodle you favour or use more often than others?
  2. Can you name one or two things you would like to see in Moodle e.g. tool or a function.
  3. Are there any functions in Moodle that are not working in your opinion?
  4. Anything else you would like to add about Moodle.

What teaching staff would like to see in Moodle

Teaching staff mentioned a number of additions that they would like to see in UI Moodle:
VoicethreadPiazza, a connection with an e-portfolio system (WordPress was mentioned), “a general chat system e.g. Teams”, crosswords and memory games, some solution within Moodle instead of having to use Adobe Connect.

There could have been some misunderstanding since teaching staff also mentioned features that already exist in Moodle or are linked with the system. They do not seem aware of the services available to them. Example:

  • A closed exam browser – SEB (Safe Exam Browser) has existed in Moodle since 2014. Computing Services also offer the service of locking computers in a computer lab for an examination so that the student is only able to open Moodle and other applications chosen by the teacher, e.g. files the students need to use in the examination.
  • An area to upload videos – a separate web server exists for course videos at UI: https://rec.hi.is/.
  • Moodle app – there is an app for Moodle and UI Moodle is set up with the app in mind: https://download.moodle.org/mobile/. It has, however, emerged that the app is not compatible with UI Moodle. The reason for this is unknown but the matter is under investigation.

Some teaching staff say that they would like more control over the appearance of course webs.

From teachers:
“Moodle’s appearance is the same for everyone and you can only make very minor changes to what students see. It was much better in WebCT.”
• “more choice with the template, like it was in ‘the old days’.”
• “The appearance of Moodle isn’t very appealing – but perhaps I don’t know how to change it.”

We could possibly look into solutions that offer alternative formatting of course webs, e.g. plugins (course format) or finding/purchasing another template for Moodle but such steps must be taken with care and caution and there are various drawbacks:

  • Errors in the system can be related to both templates and plugins. This means that individual features in Moodle can stop working due to an error in the template or a plugin. It can prove time consuming to find the cause of the error and the solution might be to stop offering a well-used and popular plugin.
  • In the case of a template from a third party, there are no guarantees that it will be updated regularly, which means that when UI Moodle is updated the template may not be available for the new version. The same applies to plugins.
  • Templates change not only colours and fonts etc. but also in many cases the location of features.
  • Plugins are sometimes incompatible with plugins already in the system.

Students are crying out for consistency in course webs. It is easier to meet these demands if the same template is used for all course webs.
Templates were a lot simpler before version 2 of Moodle. In Moodle 1.9 UI offered templates in school colours, for example. Radical changes were made to the system with Moodle 2, including to templates. It was not possible to create new templates for schools at that time. The work was both time-consuming and would have required us to pursue further training or hire someone to complete the project. We must pick our battles and this work was not prioritised.

Areas for improvement identified by teachers

A few people mentioned that the editor program could be more user-friendly. The Atto editor, which is the Moodle default, is specifically designed for the system. It ensures that material uploaded to Moodle is compatible with smart devices, that images shrink in proportion to the screen size, etc. It would be possible to set up more plugins for the editor. This possibility will be considered when the system is updated in the summer. Users may also choose to use the TinyMCE editor.

Forums in Moodle also attracted a slew of comments. They were considered unwieldy and old-fashioned in appearance and some teaching staff use Facebook instead. It is clear that forums in Moodle are considered old-fashioned compared to newer forum systems and certain settings that teaching staff sometimes look for are not available, e.g. the option to leave a discussion accessible but read-only. Teaching staff seem to be somewhat divided regarding forums, since they were also mentioned as examples of tools that work well (e.g. Q&A Forum). In some cases it could be that teaching staff are talking about different things, since Moodle offers five different kinds of forum. In at least one comment, it was clear that the teacher had used the default general forum instead of the simple forum that displays all student posts on the same page.

Other Forum features will most likely be added to Moodle in the summer. Under consideration is the addition of ForumNG to Moodle and connecting Piazza to Moodle.

Comments from teaching staff will be taken into consideration as we develop services and create instructions for the system.

User options in personal settings
Users are able to change the text editor to TinyMCE, which offers e.g. more settings for tables. This can be done through user settings in Moodle (the user’s name in the right-hand corner > preferences > Editor preferences).
Users can also change their preferences to determine whether new forum posts are highlighted, i.e. whether the link in Moodle includes information on how many new posts there have been since the user was last logged in.

What teaching staff are pleased with in Moodle

Teaching staff mention various tools and functions. Moodle Quiz was most often mentioned as the favourite tool, followed by Forum. Q&A – Question and Answer Forum was mentioned in particular. Forum was, however, also mentioned as a tool that did not work well and was said to be unwieldy and old-fashioned (see the chapter “Areas for improvement identified by teachers” above). Teaching staff counted the Question Bank tool among their favourites, as well as Rubric and other tools for providing feedback to students. Course webs are useful for managing the course and they are pleased that they are able to create separate spaces for each teaching day/week, etc.

Other

Comments from teaching staff mentioned various issues. It was mentioned that more work was needed regarding translation of Moodle, where too much was in English. Teaching staff were pleased with the fact that Moodle is an open system based on a pedagogical approach. Teaching staff also found it awkward to have two systems for course webs, e.g. because of recordings.

Some comments were ambiguous and may require follow-up with the teacher in question. Teaching staff are therefore reminded to contact the Centre for Teaching and Learning concerning any problems with Moodle.