Roadmap to Success: A Multidisciplinary Team’s Journey of Creating an LMS Plugin to Enhance Student Learning

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Hear our story about creating and piloting a Moodle roadmap plugin as a multidisciplinary team with expertise in instructional design, media design, application development, and research. We will share the iterative design, development, and evaluation process and preliminary findings. We will also let you experience the plugin through hands-on activities.

Extended Abstract

We are a multidisciplinary team of instructional designer, media designer/developer, application developer, and research scholar from a centralized instructional technology support organization at a large public university. We would like to share our story of creating and piloting a course roadmap plugin for our Moodle LMS, which enables instructors to create a visual structure for their course that not only allows quick navigation but also helps students track their activity completion status and learning progress.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the session, the attendees will be able to:

  • Describe the basic features and functionalities of the roadmap plugin.
  • Explain the roles within the multidisciplinary team in creating the roadmap plugin.
  • Discuss the key findings from the roadmap plugin pilot studies
  • Discuss the significance of the roadmap plugin for post-pandemic teaching and learning.

Interactivity Plan

We will provide a Moodle playspace with a mockup roadmap and simple activities for the attendees to experience the plugin as students. The attendees will register for an account at the beginning of the session and complete Moodle activities relevant to the presentation during designated time slots. Towards the end of the session, we will invite the attendees to discuss ideas for moving forward and/or interests in adopting the plugin.

Presentation Topics

We will start by sharing the original challenge encountered by the instructional designer in working with instructors to redesign undergraduate courses using flipped classrooms. Students often considered pre-class learning as extra work and came to class unprepared for application. In addition to designing well-organized flipped learning cycles with the instructors, the instructional designer recognized the need to visually show students how learning activities are organized into before-class, in-class, and after-class steps, how the flipped learning cycles comprise the entire course, and how they progress through those cycles. These challenges and goals started our journey of creating the current roadmap plugin.

We will then present the iterative design and development process over three years, during which we collaborated with different instructors each year. The instructional designer first brainstormed ideas with a group of media designers and developers about creating a customizable diagram to visualize the course structure and the flipped learning process, which became the initial version of the roadmap developed using a Moodle gamification tool and a Google Spreadsheet tool for a set of flipped classroom courses in Year 1. To increase the flexibility of roadmap design beyond before-, in-, and after-class steps, the team redesigned the roadmap display interface to allow any type of learning cycles and steps and applied it to another set of courses in Year 2, including both flipped and online courses. Meanwhile, to reduce the high learning curve and workload of setting up a roadmap, the team began to collaborate with the application developer to create a Moodle roadmap plugin that provides a user-friendly authoring interface, replacing the gamification and spreadsheet tools but still allowing them to be integrated for more advanced applications. The pandemic started as we were planning for development of the plugin version of the roadmap. As many courses moved to online, bichronous, or blended delivery, we piloted the plugin through a third set of courses in Year 3 (see Moodle Roadmap Example).

Different levels of evaluation were integrated into selected pilot courses during the three year-long iterations. The first two iterations mainly assessed the level of motivation promoted by the roadmap in comparison to activity completion checkboxes and gamification points. The results showed that about 75% students were motivated by the roadmap to some extent, which was lower than the activity completion checkboxes (about 82%) but higher than the gamification points (about 67%). This helped affirm our decision to move forward with the plugin version that would allow instructors to create their own roadmap independently. Along with piloting the roadmap plugin during Year 3, the instructional designer worked with the research scholar in conducting more structured evaluation studies that examined students’ roadmap usage, impact on course grades, and attitudes/perceptions about the roadmap. Findings were shared with the team to refine the existing features and plan for new features, and also shared with instructors for tweaking their courses. During Fall and Spring semesters, 87+% students reported using the roadmap on a weekly basis and and found it helpful for monitoring their progress and keeping up with th learning activities. Roadmap achievements that indicate on-time completion of activities were found to be a significant predictor of final course grades. We will present the findings and discuss our next steps to improve the roadmap plugin and to scale up the implementation and evaluation through more courses. 

As the pandemic evolves into an unpredictable epidemic, the new teaching and learning models (e.g., blended/flipped learning, hyflex model) that differ from traditional lecture classes are likely to stay as ways to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and flexibility of education. A visual and interactive course roadmap can help communicate those non-traditional approaches and expectations to students, as well as facilitating their self-regulated learning process, such as monitoring activity completion to keep up with learning. We would like to share our roadmap plugin and resources with campuses using Moodle and offer ideas to LMS developers that are interested in similar functionalities.