Starting a new online course can sometimes be a daunting task. A student may look at a course page and see a never-ending list of activities and resources for them to view or complete. If a student opens up a course like the one pictured below, they might become paralyzed by the dreaded scroll of death. They might wonder where do I even begin? And over time, they may wonder Which resources or activities have I already viewed or completed? How do I know if I’m even getting anywhere? Luckily, Moodle, the learning management system that powers UCSF’s CLE, provides ways for us to help students go through their online courses in a personalized fashion. This may mean selectively introducing content, branching activities based on performance, or merely keeping activities hidden until they are needed by the learner. Moodle’s conditional activity features provide a helpful way for students to see their progress in a course. This is especially useful for asynchronous learning, because it allows the learner to be in control of their progress over time versus waiting for the next content to be made available by the instructor. Some common uses of Conditional Activities might be:
- Don’t show course content until learner accepts an agreement
- Don’t show course content until learner takes a pre-test
- Show post-test after learner views last module
- Provide certificate of completion when learner earns certain score on post-test
- Show remedial or advanced course content or Topics based on a Quiz or Assignment grade
Employing conditional activities in a CLE course can get complicated pretty quickly. It’s best to start simple and stay simple. So, let’s start simple! Using conditional activities has two parts: 1) Activity Completion and 2) Access restrictions. Our faithful readers may remember that we posted about Activity Completion back in November, but let’s take a deeper dive now.
When employing the conditional activity features, you’ll want to set up Activity completion first, then move on to adding access restrictions. Activity completion is enabled in the Course Settings for a course. It’s best practice to enable this for a course before you start adding Activities and Resources, so the setting is automatically enabled. If you are enabling Activity completion after you’ve added items to the course, you will have to go back and enable each Activity or Resource individually.
For each course Activity or Resource, you can set the completion settings as you choose. There are three main options for each course activity or resource:
- Do not indicate activity completion
- Students can manually mark the activity as completed
- Show activity as complete when conditions are met
For the option where certain conditions must be met, you can indicate the conditions you wish. The simplest is “view”. This means the student merely needs to open up the File or URL once and then, it is deemed complete. Graded items, like the Quiz, Assignment, or a SCORM package (like an Articulate presentation), can require a certain grade to be deemed complete. The Forum has the most complex activity completion criteria with options to require a certain number of posts or replies. When the conditions are met, check marks appear in the boxes for each activity.
The second part to employing Conditional Activities is using the Access restrictions. This setting enables Instructors to restrict the availability of any activity, resource, or even a course Topic according to certain conditions such as dates, viewing the activity, a certain grade obtained, or activity completion is fulfilled. The use of access restrictions personalizes the course experience for the learner. The appearance of activities depends on each student’s own completion of prior activities. When these access restrictions are set, each student’s course might look slightly different, because each student may be further along than other students are. In the Restrict access options, an Instructor can indicate a date that you expect the completion criteria to be completed by, however this date is not shown to students. It is only displayed in the Activity completion report that is available to Instructors, such as the one below. A quick, but important note about Activity completion: UCSF’s CLE server gets triggered every 10 minutes to refresh activity completions. This means that although a student may have completed the activity, the criteria won’t necessarily register for another 10 minutes. I hope this blog post has whet your appetite for exploring the course personalization options available to you with the CLE. As you can probably tell, the Restrict access options can get a lot more complicated and we’ll go into that in a later blog post. Until then, please feel free to contact the UCSF Learning Technologies Group for any of your online learning needs! Laptop Image Credit: Kristen McPeak from the Noun Project