RELAX_Best Practice

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RELAX – Reutlingen University’s Learning Platform
Best Practice for Online Courses
Content
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Design,Layout,Form
CourseStructure
ResourcesandActivities
StudentAssessment
TeachingMethodology
RELAX
https://relax.reutlingen‐university.de
FurtherInformation
http://www.reutlingen‐university.de/relax
ReutlingenUniversity
ComputerCenter
GusHagelberg
Tel.07121271‐1327
[email protected]‐university.de
1. Introduction
This document is designed to assist you, as a university teacher, to create a
successfulblendedlearningcourseinRELAX(Moodle).Thegoalistohelpyou
understandthebenefitsofblendedlearningandtoprovideyouwithbasictools
toimplementthesemethods.
The demo course “Best Practice Demo Course” is available for you to test
variousbestpractices.JustlogontoRELAXandclick“Help>BestPractice”at
thetopofthepage.
IwanttothankProf.YoanyBeldarrainforherinvaluableinformationgained
afteryearsofexperienceinblendedlearning.
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RELAX–BestPractice
2. Design, Layout, Form
Thesuccessofyouronlinecoursedepends,inpart,onitsvisualimpactonyour
students.Byfollowingthesebasicguidelinesyourstudentsaremorelikelyto
accept,understandandappreciateyouronlinecourse.
Easy to read, user-friendly
 Useonlythestandardfonttypesand
formattingtools(ie.header1,header2…)
 Headersandsummarytexthelp
orientation
 Trynottoclutterupyourcoursepage
 Placecontentinextradocuments(PDF,
Word,etc.)
 Titlesfordocumentsandactivitiesshould
beclearandconcise
 Designshouldbepleasingtotheeye
 Contentshouldhaveaconsistentdesign
andfunctionality
 Useaclearandsimplenavigation
 Useimagestomakethepagemore
interestingandinvolving
 Useblocksonlywhennecessaryandkeep
themontheleftsideofthecoursepage
Clear structure
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Thecoursepageshouldnotbetoolong
Placebasiccourseinformationatthetopofthepage
Usethecourseformat“CollapsedTopics”
Studentshouldonlybepresentedwithrelevantinformation
Studentsshouldbegivenaclearoverviewofthecoursecontents
Makeclearwhichmaterialandactivitiesaremandatory
RELAX–BestPractice
2
3. Course Structure
InthissectionwewillbeaddressingthevariouselementsofourBestPractice
course and the methodology behind using them. These are, of course, only
suggestionsanddonothavetobeadoptedintheirentirety.AttheUniversity
ofReutlingenteacherscanchoosetohavetheircoursessetupautomatically
andwithastandardizeddesign(template).
ThecoursepageofeachRELAXcourseisdividedupintoblocks,headeranda
seriesofsections(topics).Theillustrationbellowdescribestheelementsofa
well‐structuredcourse.
Course Title, Contact Info and Teacher Profile Picture help give students orientation
Recent Activity displays announcements and content updates Activity Description of activity displayed on course page Upcoming Events shows future events and deadlines
Custom Section Name, Summary and Image Labels (formatted as Heading 3), indented Resources and Activities create a hierarchy and an improved layout 3
RELAX–BestPractice
Header
In the header area of your
courseitisrecommendedthat
you place the logo of your
facultyandthecoursename.By
placing the faculty logo at the
top and by following these
guidelinesyoucontributetoan
online“corporateidentity”.
It is helpful for the students if
youplaceyourphotoandyour
contact information here. You
shouldalsoencouragestudents
touploadtheirphotostotheir
profiles.Thiswillhelpcreatea
senseofcommunityandhelpyoutoassociatenamestofaces.
In header area it is also recommended to place the following material and
activities:
Syllabus:Thiscontainsanoverviewofthecoursecontent,information
on grading and other basic information. This helps students improve
theirtimemanagementskills.
Feedback: With a feedback activity you can, for example, allow your
studentstopresentsomeinformationabouttheirbackground,goals,etc.
Youcanalsocreateasimplesurveyinordertoallowthestudentstoassessthe
qualityorvalueofyourclass.
Forums:Inthe“NewsForum”(a.k.a.“Announcements”)teacherscreate
postswhicharesentviaE‐Mailtotheparticipants.Studentscannotpost
inthisforum.
A second forum for student involvement is also recommended. This forum
playsakeyroleincreatingengagingonlinecoursesandisdesignedtoallow
students the space to actively discuss and debate the issues they have been
learning.
Teachersneedtomoderatethistypeofdiscussionforum.Theyneedtopose
questions,monitoranswersandsometimesprovideanswers.Dependingonthe
design of the course, questions can be used to introduce a topic that will be
discussed in class, or to extend a topic that was discussed in class. A good
practice is to pose a question each week and encourage your students to
respondandcomment.
RELAX–BestPractice
4
Forum posts can also be used to help grade students. This, obviously, will
increase their participation. The teaching methodology used here is
constructivistlearning,wherestudentsareactivelyengagedinthediscussion
andlearnfromeachother’sperspective.
Teachers can gain valuable insight into students learning through the forum
posts and students can also profit by learning how to verbalize, ask good
questionsandrespondwithintelligentanswers.
Avirtualofficecanalsobecreatedusingforums.Studentscanaskquestions
herethatareokforclassmatestosee.Teachersneed,then,tomakesurethey
respondtothequestions.
Sections
Each
RELAX
course
contains one or more
sections. Depending upon
the course format you
choose under “Course
administration > Edit
setting>Courseformat”the
sections will be displayed
differently.Werecommend
youuse“CollapsedTopics”.
It allows students to
collapse the topics which
are not presently being
discussed.
Independent of the course
formatyouchoose,eachsectiontypicallycontainsthecoursematerialforone
particularcourseweekorunit.
Eachsectionshouldhaveacleartitle,animageandasummaryofthegoalsfor
theweekorunit.
Labelsarehelpfultogroupresourcesandactivities.Resources,activitiesand
sections should have clear, informative names. By indenting resources and
activitiesyoucreateadistincthierarchy,makingthepageeasiertograsp.
Itcanbehelpfultoyourstudentsifyoushowthedescriptionofanactivityor
resource(check“Displaydescriptiononcoursepage”inthesettingforanitem).
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RELAX–BestPractice
Blocks
Blocksarehelpfultoshowcurrentinformationlikeupcomingduedatesornew
forumposts.Theblocks“Navigation”and“Administration”arepredefinedand
cannotberemoved.Youcanaddadditionalblockstoyourcoursepagewhich
willbevisibletoyourstudents.Youshouldtrytolimitthenumberofblockson
your course page so that students are not overwhelmed with information.
Blocksshouldappearonlyontheleft.Thefollowingblocksarerecommended:
Recent activity
RELAX–BestPractice
Upcoming events
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4. Resources and Activities
Resources
Resources include PowerPoint presentations, videos,
links, learning goals for the week, chapters from
textbooksorasummaryofthepreviouslectures.These
present students with core themes and information
neededfortheunit.
Goals:Motivation,easingstudent’sintroductiontothe
topic, assistance in preparation and review of the
week’slectures,clarifyingwhichtopicsarerelevantto
examsandmorein‐depthlearning.
Methods:Uploadingfiles,text,photos
Resources (optional)
References,links,photosandfurthermaterialrelatedto
the current topic are presented to the students each
week.
Goals:Savestimesforthestudentsbypresentingthem
withrelevantmaterial.
Methods:Uploadingfiles,text,photos
Lists of resources, links, images and further materials
canbeprovidedweeklytoyourstudents.
Activity: Forum
Asmentionedinthesectionabove,forumsshouldbeset
upforstudentstocriticallydiscusscoursetopics.Itisrecommendedthatyou
setupjustonediscussionforumfortheentirecourse.Astheteacheryoucan,
forexample,presentaquestioneachweekandtellthestudentstheyhaveto
answerthequestionandcommentonanswersfromotherstudents.
Forumpostsaresentviaemailtoparticipantssothatacontinualdiscussion
outsideoftheclassroomispossible.
Goals: Continuous, constructivist learning, students learn from each other’s
perspectives,reducingfearofparticipation(studentstooshytospeakinthe
classroomhaveaviablealternative).
Methods:Moodleactivity“Forum”,automaticgradingispossible
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RELAX–BestPractice
Activity: Choice or Feedback
Students give feedback, including critique and recommended improvements,
aboutlecturesandcoursematerial.Theentriescanbeanonymousifdesired.
Goals:Improvingteachingingeneral,encouraginginputfromstudentsabout
coursecontent,teachingmethods,etc.
Methods:Moodleactivity“Choice”or“Feedback”
Activity: Quizzes
Students and teachers can better assess their learning progress when short
quizzeswithcurrenttopicsarepresented.
Goals:Increasingselfconfidence,improvedselfassessment
Methods:Moodleactivity“Quiz”
Activity: Wiki or Etherpad
Awikiisatooltocreatecollaborativeauthoredcontent.TheEtherpadactivity
issimilarbutalsoallowssimultaneouseditingofthesametext.
Goals:Collaborationamongstudents,knowledgetransfer
Methods:Moodleactivity„Wiki“or“Etherpad”
RELAX–BestPractice
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5. Student Assessment
At the beginning of each semester it is important to communicate to your
studentshowyouwillbeusingtheonlinecourse,whatroleitplaysandwhat
expectations you have. Will the student’s online activity be, in some fashion,
used in grading? Approximately how much time do you expect students to
investinonlinelearningoutsideoftheclassroom?Willtherebematerialplaced
intheonlinecoursewhichstudentsarerequiredtoreadorcomplete?
Ifyouplanonusingonlinetestspleaserefertothebrochure“Erstellungvon
TestsinRELAX”availablefromtheComputerCenter.
List offers the teacher an overview of grades for all students
6. Tracking Activity Completion
Withthe“Activitycompletion”featureofRELAXyoucanseeanoverviewofthe
workyourstudentshavecompleted.Inordertousethisfeatureyouhaveto
enablecompletiontrackinginthecoursesettings.Toviewthestudentsprocess
just go to “Administration > Course administration > Reports > Activity
completion”
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RELAX–BestPractice
7. Teaching Methodology
 Youronlinecourseshouldprovidevariousopportunitiesforinteractive
learningandcommunication(betweenstudentsandbetweenstudents
andteacher).
 Learninggoalsandgradingschemesareclearlydefinedandareclearly
linkedwitheducationalactivities.
 Yourcourseoffersavarietyofaudio,visualandtextualactivities
designedtoimprovelearning.
 Youcanapplydifferentlearningmethodsinyourcourse.
Howcanonlinetoolslike“Feedback”,“Assignment”,“Quiz”,”Forum”or“Wiki”
beusedtoimproveuponthetraditionalteachingmethodsoflecture,classroom
discussion,groupactivityandindividuallearning?
How might you use RELAX to further motivate your students to actively get
involvedinthelearningprocess?
Evaluation and Grading
 Thecourseofferssufficientopportunitiesforself‐assessment.
 Learninggoalsarelinkedtogradableactivities.
 Thereareampleandtimelyopportunitiesforfeedbackonhowa
studentisdoing.
 Studentsarealsoabletoprovidefeedbacktootherstudents.
Feedback from Students
 Studentsareabletoprovidefeedbackaboutcoursematerialand
teachingmethods.
 Feedbackispossibleontheonlineplatform.
RELAX–BestPractice
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ServiceDeskdesRMZ
Building20,Room004(fromAugust2014inBuilding3)
Telephone:07121‐2711333
E‐Mail:[email protected]‐university.de
Contact:JürgenDippell
Opening hours during the semester
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RELAX–BestPractice
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