How to make the most out of Moodle


How to make the most out of Moodle

Burça Çapkan, EFL Instructor at School of Languages, Sabancı University

Being English Language teachers at prestigious universities, most of us are lucky to have this excellent e- learning tool called ‘moodle’. Moodles are custom-made courses which facilitate online collaboration. They are commonly used for keeping records of learners’ attendance, adding files, assigning essays, etc. But is that all we can do in such a large virtual environment? 

After completing a 10- week online course given by The Consultants-E on ’How to use moodle more effectively’, I would like to present here some of the tools and techniques that I have learned from this course. Below are some of the core options used in most moodle set-ups, but how effectively do we use these functions? 

A moodle site is made up of courses which are pages including learning materials teachers want to share with their students. A teacher who is using the moodle course can assist the students learning process by selecting various items from 3 different elements. 

Activities, Resources and Blocks 

•Some functions available at moddle under the heading activities:

Forum/ Glossary/ Quiz/ Wiki/ Survey/Choice/ Turnitin assignment/ chat/ database/ external tool/ lesson/ workshop

•Some more functions that can be found under the title resources are:

Book/ File/ Folder/ Label/ Page/ URL/ Recordings

As School of Languages, we are very lucky to have OLSP team, who is doing a great job for us including releasing the grades and attendances, adding TLPs and answer keys, dealing with all kind of technical issues, guiding us on how to take end of year reports and so on. But each of us can make more use of moodle course(Su Course +) in our classes using all these functions individually to support what we are doing face to face in our classes.

If you are not familiar with these moodle functions or running out of ideas on how to use them, below you can find some tips and activities that you can use in your classes to increase collaboration between either teacher and student or student and student.

1. Calendars 

Have you ever considered how many students check the calendar and why they should. Using the calendar block effectively may have great benefits for your students in the long term.


You can add the portfolio tasks dates, exam dates and units to be covered each week on the calendar. At the beginning of each week, you can highlight the topic of the week, objectives and important upcoming events ahead of time. In time, students will get the habit of checking the calendar and eventually this will help your learners to develop their organizational skills. At first, it may seem like something small and unnecessary to you, but in the long term it will help them improve their organizational skills such as planning.


Moodle has four kinds of forums each with a slightly different layout and purpose. 

Selecting the correct forum type is as important as using it. All you need to do is think of which of the forums will best suit your needs for a particular activity. In order to answer this question, it is useful to think how you might lead such a discussion in a face-to-face environment. Would you throw the question out to the class and sit back to observe them in their answers? Or would you break them up into smaller groups first and ask them to have discussions with a partner before bringing them back to the main group? Or perhaps you would like to keep them focused on a particular aspect of a question and ensure that they do not wander away from the topic at hand? All of the above approaches are both valid and useful, depending on your learning purposes, and you can replicate all of them in Moodle forums. 


1.After covering a unit, you can post questions on the forum; What was covered in this week of class? What did you learn from the reading text? What are you still confused on in this unit? What are 5 new words you have learnt related to the topic?

It will help you to find out what the learners really did or didn’t learn that week or if they have found anything difficult in common. Also other students will benefit from it by refreshing ideas that maybe they have missed. In addition, it will help you find out the   areas you need to review before the test.

2.You can create a ‘Help me Forum’ for any kind of last minute questions that they want to ask. Thus, everyone can benefit from each others’ questions. It is a more effective way than mailing to the teacher whenever they have a question. Rather than e- mailing to the teacher whenever they have a question, they can make use of Help Me Forum. (Especially for questions like;

I missed the exam, what am I supposed to do? 

What am I going to do with my health report?

Which units are we responsible for the final exam?

Which topics will be included in the SWA?...)

3.You can also create a ‘FAQ Forum’ for any exam especially for the exams which they will be taking for the first time (e.g. Open Book Exam)

4.You can open a ‘Single Simple Discussion Forum’ after covering each topic by posting a general question on the topic of the unit covered. By answering the question, students revise the topic and share their opinion with each other. It can be a good revision for Short Answer Exam.


3.Glossary:  The glossary is an activity module which enables students to create and organise their own dictionaries. Applying a collaborative glossary in a number of creative ways can make a great impact on your students.


In the beginning of the term, it can be used as a ‘get to know each other’ activity. Students can add a photo of themselves or write a short entry on one interesting fact about themselves and other students can try to guess who he is.

It can be used as a revision tool after each unit. It is possible to add videos as well as files and images in the glossary section. Entries can be categorized and browsed according to category. You can add videos related to the content of the week and ask your students to comment on them. Students can be put in teams and teams can be assigned the vocabulary of different inputs or each team can be responsible for one definition per input.

4.Wikis: By the help of wiki function, teachers can add and edit a collection of web pages related to the topics they cover in the lesson to their courses. Wiki activity module enables students to work collaboratively.


Teacher sets up a wiki and may link each input/unit to the wiki page and assign each input to a student or a group of student. So each student or group is responsible for summarizing one input. This generates a set of notes of all inputs which all students can access and can be used as a revision material.