A Student’s Perspective On Moodle
The goal of higher education is to serve students and provide the benefits of challenging learning endeavors. However, in institutions’ sincere attempts to facilitate the most robust learning experience possible, modern technologies and processes may come with a learning curve that initially creates an impediment, or may not live up to the institution’s and students’ expectations. As is well-documented with Generation Z students, advanced technology is not only expected, but must provide an intuitive and robust user interface that is on par with other technologies the student may be familiar with.
One such technology is that of Learning Management Systems (LMS). Clearly, implementing an LMS is a major step for colleges and universities, but how are they perceived by the students?
The Tambellini Group asked one of its student interns for an opinion. The response shows appreciation for the technology, yet some disappointments in execution.
About 90 percent of the assignments college students receive and submit are digitized on some sort of learning management platform. The way we receive and access our assignments is incredibly critical for our success. My university uses Moodle, which is straightforward and easy to use, however, like anything else in this world, it’s not perfect.
I typically access Moodle on my laptop when I am sitting down with the intention of starting and/or submitting assignments. Other times I use the Moodle app on my phone when I just need to quickly double check what assignments I have coming up or get a fast assignment clarification.
Let’s start with my experience with a recent Moodle update. When my university decided to update the Moodle user interface, they created a proprietary, school-branded portal for Moodle. Prior to this, I accessed Moodle directly from a login page shortcut saved to my favorites bar. I never had any issues logging in.
After the update/proprietary portal implementation, I began experiencing significantly disruptive login problems. When I attempted to log in from the same Moodle link as before, the home page did not display my courses. Instead, I received this message: “No course information to show.” Needless to say, the first time this happened, I had a panic attack and called my parents to make sure my tuition was paid for that semester and that I was actually enrolled in classes. Once assured that I was indeed enrolled, I went back to determine what could possibly be going on.
At that point, I noticed that a new hyperlink had been added to the top left corner of the Moodle login, directing me to a new University portal. (I’ll call this portal “UniversityWare” for the sake of this post.) I clicked UniversityWare and (sure enough!) a page that looked extremely similar to Moodle’s dashboard page popped up with all of my courses. Without advance notice, it was a trial-and-error exercise to identify the new login procedure, and the new process added frustration and confusion. It seems like this is an unnecessary step without observable benefit.
That experience aside, the dashboard is clean, organized, and easy to understand. I really like that:
- There is a calendar with highlighted dates for when things are due, as well as the upcoming events section that lists assignments I need to submit soon.
- An icon pops up under a course name when there are assignments that need attention. I’m able to click on these to see the assignments with their due dates and a link to the assignment itself.
- The course pages are neatly set up by specific topics/weeks/dates, so I can see everything I need week by week.
Little things like this make life as a student much easier and organized, preventing us from forgetting what we need to do and when we need to do it. Some of my ideas for improvement would include:
- Having the week/topic/date I am currently on show up first or be highlighted to make it easier to understand what I need to pay attention to.
- Having a “completed assignment” indication on the main page of the course after something is submitted, rather than having to go to the assignment itself to check submission status.
- An easier process to update profile pictures. This is currently very painful and more complicated than necessary. Moodle uses Gravatar, which means you have to leave Moodle altogether to change your picture.
- More metrics and analytics: for example, how have my grades been changing over time and are there projections of my future grades?
Mobile App Moodle
Moodle has done a beautiful job with their mobile app. Everything is very clearly laid out. It’s visually appealing, and it’s extremely easy to figure out and manage. I like having the option of being able to choose a specific section to look at within a course or view all at once, as if I were opening the course page on my Mac. I typically don’t upload assignments from the mobile app, but if I wanted to, even that is really easy to do. The only thing that tripped me up about the app was the initial login experience. Instead of showing me a typical login page with a username and password, it told me to enter in my university’s Moodle login URL, which seemed odd to me. Once again, I had to go back to that pesky “UniversityWare” site, copy the login page URL, and paste it into the app. Once I did that, the app logged me right in; so, while it seemed odd, it actually did make things pretty easy. The app is perfect for when I’m on the go and want to check what assignments I have coming up without sitting down and pulling out my laptop.
All in all I think Moodle is a great learning management system. What do you think about Moodle?