Before teaching a Moodle course it is critical that a teacher design what they want to do. For many teachers, they believe that they begin the design process by going to Moodle and adding activity and other resources to their class. For someone who is thoroughly familiar with Moodle and has developed courses before this might work. However, for the majority online teachers, they need to wireframe what they want their Moodle course to look like online.
Why Wireframe a Moodle Course
In the world of web developers, a wireframe is a prototype of what a potential website will look like. The actual wireframe can be made in many different platforms from Word, Powerpoint, and even just paper and pencil. Since Moodle is online a Moodle course in many ways is a website so wireframing applies to this context.
It doesn’t matter how you wireframes their Moodle course. What matters is that you actually do this. Designing what you want to see in your course helps you to make decisions much faster when you are actually adding activities and resources to your Moodle course. It also helps your Moodle support to help you if they have a picture of what you want rather than wild hand gestures and frustration.
Wire farming a course also reduces the cognitive load on the teacher. Instead of designing and building the course a the same time. Wireframing splits this task into two steps, which are designing, and then building. This prevents extreme frustration as it is common for a teacher just to stare at the computer screen when trying to design and develop a Moodle course simultaneously.
You never see an architect making his plans while building the building. This would seem careless and even dangerous because the architect doesn’t even know what he wants while he is throwing around concrete and steel. The same analogy applies with designing Moodle courses. A teacher must know what they want, write it down, and then implement it by creating the course.
Another benefit of planning in Word is that it is easier to change things in Word when compared to Moodle. Moodle is amazing but it is not easy to use for those who are not tech-savvy. However, it’s easiest for most of us to copy, paste, and edit in Word.
One Way to Wire Frame a Moodle Course
When supporting teachers to wireframe a Moodle course, I always encourage them to start by developing the course in Microsoft Word. The reason is that the teacher is already familiar with Word and they do not have to struggle to make decisions when using it. This helps them to focus on content and not on how to use Microsoft Word.
One of the easiest ways to wireframe a Moodle course is to take the default topics of a course such as General Information, Week 1, Week 2, etc. and copy these headings into Word, as shown below.
Now, all that is needed is to type in using bullets exactly what activities and resources you want in each section. It is also possible to add pictures and other content to the Word document that can be added to Moodle later. Below is a preview of a generic Moodle sample course with the general info and week 1 of the course completed.
You can see for yourself how this class is developed. The General Info section has an image to serve as a welcome and includes the name of the course. Under this the course outline and rubrics for the course. The information in the parentheses indicates what type of module it is.
For Week 1, there are several activities. There is a forum for introducing yourself. A page that shares the objectives of that week. Following this are the readings for the week, then a discussion forum, and lastly an assignment. This process completes for however many weeks are topics you have in the course.
Depending on your need to plan, you can even plan other pages on the site beside the main page. For example, I can wireframe what I want my “Objectives” page to look like or even the discussion topics for my “Discussion” forum.
Of course, the ideas for all these activities comes from the course outline or syllabus that was developed first. In other words, before we even wireframe we have some sort of curriculum document with what the course needs to cover.
The example above is an extremely simple way of utilizing the power of wireframing. With this template, you can confidently go to Moodle and find the different modules to make your class come to life. Trying to conceptualize this in your head is possible but much more difficult. As such, thorough planning is a hallmark of learning.
I agree with you it is a very good idea to have your teachers wire frame or storyboard or mind map their courses in a tool that is familiar to them. Makes it MUCH easier. Once familiar with a tool, it is easier to dive right in.