Delivering Online Courses
The Extension Foundation offers employees of its member institutions the free use of its online course system for the sale and delivery of courses to their clientele, including the incorporation of competency based curriculum if desired. This happens through a package of two integrated sites, Campus (a Moodle 3.9+ platform) and Catalog, a store front facilitating fee-based access to courses on Campus. Through incorporating competency frameworks in Campus and then linking course learning objects to elements of those frameworks, one is able to create competency based learning plans connecting learners to the courses and lessons that support those competencies. While competency frameworks can be specified directly within Campus, the Extension Foundation also offers the use of a framework builder provided by Eduworks. Its Competencies and Skills System (CASS) allows the creation of frameworks in a standardized format that is directly connected to Campus as well as other competency based platforms.
Where is it located?
How do I get an account?
On Campus, using the “Create new account” link in the login block, a user completes a user profile which includes a preferred user name, email address, password, and a few other required items. Upon submitting this profile, Moodle sends a verification message to the email address entered. The user accesses the link in the email message to verify the account, and then proceeds to enroll in courses of interest.
On Catalog, using the “Customer Login” link at the top of the page, a user completes an online form, and is able to create an account without the step of the email verification. Either of these methods creates accounts in the same database, so creating an account on Catalog allows the user to log in on Campus, and vice versa.
Why use it?
- Anyone in the world can enroll
- eXtension provides hosting and support
- Makes courses available 24/7/365
- Provides a single site for all eXtension courses
- Allows for multi-institutional collaboration in development
- Provides incorporation of competency frameworks
- Uses a commercial storefront for sale of fee-based courses
Who can offer courses on it?
Anyone employed by an Extension Foundation member institution.
What features does it provide?
As a Moodle 3.9 system, it provides a full range of course delivery tools and services such as web pages, video, books, lessons, assignments, forums, chat, certificates, databases, glossaries, quizzes, journals, questionnaires, and competency frameworks. It also allows for sharing of resources and courses with other course developers and Moodle sites.
What if I don’t have a real “course,” but just a few learning modules?
“Course” is the term used by Moodle to refer to a container holding various learning objects. Check out the blog post at https://www.extension.org/2016/01/27/when-is-a-course-not-a-course/ for more detail.
- Can I charge fees? Yes. Campus is tightly connected to catalog.extension.org which provides a store front with built-in PayPal and credit card capability. Details about that capability are located at https://www.extension.org/campus-procedures. Other means of charging fees through local online payment systems will require the use of an enrollment key issued to the user once payment is made.
- Do I have to pay to offer a course on this site? No, it is provided as a service of the Extension Foundation to its member institutions.
- Can I control access to courses? Moodle, the software running on Campus, provides different forms of access or enrollment control. The standard method is requiring an enrollment key (a password) when enrolling in the course. Issuing the enrollment key is a reserved right of course teachers. Teachers can also impose limits in the duration one can be enrolled in a course as well as time frames during which enrollment is open.
- How does the site handle video? Video is generally managed in one of three different methods. It can be uploaded as a file to the Moodle platform and delivered on demand to the user. A teacher can provide a link to video on a third party site; e.g., YouTube, Vimeo. Or, video can be uploaded to the Extension Foundation’s VidGrid instance and integrated into Campus.
- Can I offer group activities? Moodle allows for the use of both groups and groupings (groups of groups) as a means of controlling content delivery by group as well as exchange of information among participants; e.g., forums and chats among only members of a specific group.
- Can Moodle be used for instructor-led courses? Moodle provides several tools that facilitate instructor direct involvement in the learning activity. Forums, journals, chats and assignments are particularly designed for that purpose. Such engagement with the learners is particularly encouraged.
Where do I get help with my questions or to get started using this system?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.