In 2017, National Chiao Tung University launched a new cross-disciplinary curriculum framework to encourage undergraduate students to claim a second profession through a series of new modular programmes conjoint by various faculty. Different from any other degree programmes, the new curriculum framework not only allowed students to explore their professional interests in cross-disciplinary learning; but also provided them with fewer timing constraints and greater flexibility to plan their timetables throughout the semester by breaking down the 18-week course structure into three 6-week modules with specific topics.
However, with the structural changes brought by the cross-disciplinary curriculum framework, the original course management system didn’t have the affordance to tackle the new segmentation of curriculum structures and timeframes when it comes to module registration and management. To successfully roll out this project on time, the University decided to build a new system for the cross-disciplinary curriculum programme while adopting Moodle as the foundation for engineering development.
As a contracted designer, I was tasked to create the search & module registration flow for the new module management system in collaboration with the contracted developer in 2 months. My responsibilities on this project comprised of three things:
As the search & registration process was the core experience of this module management system, we wanted to make sure that the new system could fit the new cross-disciplinary curriculum framework and allowed the system to house all kinds of modular content.
Traditionally, a university course in Taiwan spanned over 18 weeks and was usually hosted by one institution. Hence, originally students could only explore other curriculums outside their majors by selecting the institutions before knowing what this institution had to offer. The new curriculum framework broke the 18-week course structure into three 6-week modules and reintegrated these modules from different institutions into a series of cross-disciplinary programmes that could be further grouped under various specific topics.
In response to the idea of cross-disciplinary learning, after several discussion with the University administration team, we divided the modular content into *Topic*, *Programme*, and *Module* following the framework’s three-tier scheme and created the search & registration flow accordingly to encourage students to explore the modules through the structure without having to second-guess which modules belong to which institution.
Moodle is an open-source learning management system that has been widely used by academic institutions around the world, including multiple universities in Taiwan. Developed for educational purposes, the open-source contains a wide range of customisable patterns and services that enables institutions to build their own digital learning platforms faster.
To understand the Moodle system better, we went through the rudimentary module management system put together by the University’s engineering team to assess the structures and components adopted from Moodle library.
Given only the span of 2 months for design and development, this provided us with a unique opportunity to take inspiration directly from Moodle to inform design decisions, learn the common behavioural patterns in digital learning, and sketch out the system structures with the underlying components.
To include as much detail as possible without cluttering up the landing page, we decided to present the topics and their programmes with the card component, which allowed students to explore different fields of study on the same page by simply expanding and collapsing the cards. On top of the section, we also put a drop-down list to further categorise the modular content chronologically by semester for future students to reference the past modules.
As the module enrolment didn’t operate on the first-come-first-serve basis, the registration process only required students to click on the *Register* button to be enlisted. Also, to make it easier for students to navigate, under the headline of the syllabus, we used the breadcrumbs feature as the indicator to show the exact location on the system and help them return to the higher-level pages.
On the profile page, we presented the registered modules alongside the academic hours to help the University and students track their learning history of each programme.
Students were allowed to log in to the new system with their original academic accounts as the cross-disciplinary curriculum was open to every NCTU student. However, the University was hoping to open up the resources to the public in the future. As a result, we added a link for the non-NCTU students to contact the administration team directly for the accounts.
The new module management system was eventually discontinued before moving on to other parts of the design and development due to several unresolved technical issues. There wasn’t enough time for the engineering team to test out all the functionality and stability before the roll-out. Therefore, the administration team decided to put the new system on hold and launch the cross-disciplinary curriculum project with other approaches.
Chen Yen-jen | Full Stack Developer