Video: Competency based education in Moodle

John CollinsJohn Collins is passionate about cloud-based eLearning solutions which enable the delivery of online training anywhere and anytime. Part of his interesting job involves keeping up to date with the latest educational technology advancements.

This seven-minute video blog helps us to understand competency based education in Moodle version 3.1 including:

  • The relationship between the SMS, units of competency and Moodle courses
  • Linear and clustered relationships between units of competency and Moodle course
  • Directly linking assessment activities to specific units of competency.

More on Moodle competencies

If you found this blog useful you might also enjoy:

For regular updates on everything eLearning please subscribe to eLink.

IxD and usability: Must haves in online training and assessment tools

Allison MillerAllison Miller is a regular contributor to eWorks’ blog who is passionate about engaging learners, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the world of work. Here
Allison discusses the impact of IxD and usability principles to both enhance the user experience and drive technical evolution in the world of education.

User experience and the technical evolution

Technology and the internet, both their development and uptake, have been changing at an amazing pace over the last five to ten  years. This has been greatly enabled by mobile devices and better internet/mobile data plans. Another key driver of this evolution has been improved user experience (UX).  For example, consider how touch screens, mobile apps and improved mobile phone responsiveness have greatly changed how we live our lives and communicate with one another compared to ten years ago.

However, it could be said that this technical evolution has not occurred as rapidly in online learning and assessment tools such as learning management systems (LMS), eportfolio tools and webinar rooms. This evolution is also unlikely to gain the same momentum as other technologies while educational institutions continue to accept a low level of UX design in these systems.

To ensure that your next online training and assessment tool (online tool) doesn’t fall into the same low UX design trap, ensure that you factor in UX from the perspective of the learners, educators and educational support staff, by basing your selection criteria on interaction design (IxD) and usability principles.

What are IxD and usability principles?

IxD and usability principles make sure that an online tool is:

  • Efficient to use as it takes the least amount of time to accomplish a particular task,
  • Easy to learn to use, and
  • More satisfying to use compared to other online tools.

IxD and usability principles concentrate on:

1.      Being user focussed

This is done by defining who the users of your online tool will be, and then determining their needs in relation to your online tool, for example:

  • Learners wants to easily find relevant information and access learning and assessment activities, eg discussion forums, assignments etc, from any device.
  • Educators want to easily find learners’ work to mark and provide feedback, and to be able to easily update information or activities.
  • Educational support staff want to be able to easily create exciting and interactive learning and assessment spaces; extract learner data such as their results; and view site stats about the use of the online tool for reporting purposes.

2.      Ease of use

How easy is it for users to navigate the online tool to achieve their goals is also important. Questions to ask in this area include:

  • How many clicks does it take the user to satisfy their needs?
  • Does the system’s workflow help users meet their requirements in the least amount of time?
  • Can users easily find where they need to go to achieve their goals?

3.      Learnability

Optimum learnability means the online tool has a consistent design approach  which makes it easy for the user to quickly understand how to use it, with the least amount of information and support. You determine this by consulting with organisations that already use the online tool you are considering and ask them how much upfront support their users needed before they felt confident to use it.

4.      Signifiers

Online tools should provide symbols which indicate how far a user has progressed through a task task such as ‘progress’ bars or through prompts such as ‘you are at Page 5 of 15’ or ‘you are marking learner no 2 of 5’.  Signifiers provide the user with a context of where they are at in completing a task which can help them manage their time better, and/or motivate them to continue to complete a task.

5.      Functionality

Considering the key functional requirements for each user group and the way they might therefore navigate your system will contribute to the user friendliness of it. For example:

  • Learners want simple ways to access content, as well as communicate and collaborate with others, and to upload their work.
  • Educators want simple ways to access learners’ work, provide feedback and results, and to review information about their learners eg activity logs.
  • Educational support staff want simple ways to present information and encourage learner activity, and to access results and reports.

6.      Feedback

As online tools cannot use body language to communicate how well a user is performing, it is important that the online tool provides feedback prompts to users as they progress through the system eg You have successfully submitted your assignment. This confirmation ensures that users feel confident that they have achieved their task, and they can take satisfaction in this achievement.

7.      Response time and responsiveness

Most users these days have access to fast internet on highly responsive devices. This means that they expect pages/screens of your online tool to load quickly. They will also expect to be able to access the online tool from any device, whether that is a computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. This means that responsiveness needs to be a key factor in the selection of your online tool.

Get it right at the start

Incorporating IxD and usability principles into the selection process of your next online tool will ensure a return on the investment you have made into researching, implementing and maintaining the online tool, and your users will quickly adopt and continue to utilise the system with lower ongoing support.

This approach requires user consultation and research into how other educational organisations rate the IxD and usability of the online tool. Any questions? We’re here to help.

Moodle Competencies for evidence of learning

bernadette-parry-headshotBernadette Parry is the Client Support Coordinator at eWorks. Her role involves juggling all sorts of client-focused tasks including start-up TVC training, advanced Moodle training and support services. A self-confessed Moodle ‘geek’, Bernadette loves to discover new ways to navigate and make the most of Moodle. Currently she is excited about the inclusion of competencies and learning plans in Moodle 3.1, and ways that this function can be applied to the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.

Moodle competencies

For those of you who don’t know already, Moodle 3.1 comes bundled up with competencies and learning plans. This is perfect for the VET sector, where there is such an emphasis on demonstrating skills rather than simply knowledge. If you haven’t started using this feature, now is the time to get started.

What are competencies?

Competencies track what your students have demonstrated that they know or they can do. Instead of simply seeing which courses a student has completed, you can also see which competencies the student demonstrated whilst doing the courses. This is a powerful feature, especially when training students to work in practical fields such as trades.

How do we set up competencies?

Competencies can be set up in Moodle in three, easy steps:

  1. Make sure you already have the scale you require, such as ‘Not Yet Competent’, ‘Competent’. This can be set up by going to Administration> Site administration> Grades> Scales, see Scales.
  2. Set up a framework for a set of competencies – this needs to be done by an administrator in your site. I would suggest that you use a separate framework for each Unit of Competence, and add the year, eg ‘BSB20115 – Cert II in Business 2017’ to the name in case you want to update the framework in the future. This will also help your course creators to find the competencies they need to use. Instructions are available in the manually set up a competency framework video.
  3. Add competencies to this framework. Once again, I’d suggest adding the year to the name, eg ‘BSBWOR204 2017’.

This is a tedious process, and it is suggested that you use the Import competency framework plugin to do this. Instructions to use this plugin are available in the video importing the competency framework. This plugin will be in core Moodle 3.2!

Using competencies

Once the Competencies are set up, you can use them in courses.

  1. Add the appropriate competencies to the course
  2. Apply the appropriate competencies to the activities.

This step will ensure that you can track the competencies that your students have demonstrated by completing courses or activities. Information about doing this is in the applying competencies video.

Further information

Of course assessing competency is a little more complicated than that. Your VET students will need to demonstrate that they can do something more than once, over a time period and so on. To manage this, you may like to restrict access to an activity until the required skill is demonstrated in another activity, then award competency. For example, by completing activities A, B and C, a student demonstrates that they are competent in a competency. The student can’t complete activity C until activities A and B are successfully completed. The student is graded as competent once activity C is successfully completed. Or you may award competency manually. In any case, taking the time to set up competencies correctly, will save you time and effort when tracking whether or not your students are capable of doing what you, and their future employers, need them to be able to do.

Once you have competencies set up, you may like to look at implementing learning plans. More on that in a future blog post, but not until I get back from my imminent holiday to India! See Moodle docs for further information, read my colleague’s blog that introduces competency frameworks, and let me know if you have any queries.

VET students and financial capability

Ben LawBen Law is a Financial Education Officer for the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC). His main role is developing online professional development for teachers to assist in effectively teaching young people about money. In this blog post Ben tells us about an online resource for students, teachers, trainers and community educators, to assist in developing and teaching critical money skills.

Financial challenges for students

For students personally and those considering self-employment or starting a small business after finishing school, understanding money and finance is vital. The financial decisions young people need to navigate are becoming increasingly complex and the money choices they make now can have a real and lasting impact on their futures. ASIC have therefore developed an online resource for students and a complementary professional development module for teachers, trainers and community educators, to assist in developing and teaching of these critical money skills.

What does the research say?

Research undertaken by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) in 2012 informed the development of the Be MoneySmart Certificate III unit of competency FNSFLT 301, which aims to build financial capability in students completing a trade qualification.

The field research included:

  • an online survey with over 1300 apprentices, trainees and field workers, and
  • phone interviews with key stakeholders including Industry Associations, Group Training Organisations, Business Enterprise Centres and Industry Skills Councils.

The research found that most apprentices and trainees want simple, clear and engaging online learning delivered in sessions of less than one hour. Access to a mentor was a consistent message that came out of the study as well as the need for the information to be kept current and relevant.

ASIC’s Be MoneySmart online training resource

Following on from the research, ASIC worked with a steering group with representatives from the Australian Taxation Office, Group Training Australia and Innovation and Business Skills Australia to develop ‘ASIC’s Be MoneySmart, an online training resource to help VET students (including apprentices and trainees) develop money management skills.

ASIC’s Be MoneySmart offers five video-based online modules:

  • Saving, budgeting and spending – Students establish savings goals, create a budget and a savings plan.
  • Personal tax – Students establish a system for storing receipts and work through tax topics so they can prepare a return.
  • Superannuation – Students compare super funds, work through a super statement and learn how to keep track of their super.
  • Debt management – Students compare debt products, learn to manage credit cards and find out what to do if debt becomes a problem.
  • Insurance – Students investigate car, home and content insurance and learn how to choose the right type of insurance and level of cover.

Each module features real life examples and video case studies of young people from a range of occupations, and a mentor who provides information and money management tips on key aspects of each topic. The modules support one hour of online activity and two hours of offline study. Each module includes a student workbook and there is also a trainer/assessor guide for the entire resource. The resource can be delivered as an accredited elective unit of competency or as individual modules as part of non-accredited courses or training.

Delivering ASIC’s Be MoneySmart

ASIC has developed an online professional development module to assist teachers, trainers and community educators in using ASIC’s Be MoneySmart resource with learners. It is designed to help trainers gain a detailed knowledge and understanding of ASIC’s Be MoneySmart resource, consider strategies to deliver the resource in both accredited and non-accredited settings, and understand how the program aligns to the unit of competency FNSFLT301 Be MoneySmart, which is part of Financial Services training package.

Want more information?

For more information, contact us at moneysmartteaching@asic.gov.au, and have a read of our previous blog post.