Building an MSc Programme in Medical Physics on Moodle: The Teacher Functions in Focus
Access to the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
In this chapter, we shall start with a discussion of a scenario where the space for the MSc programme on the Moodle VLE has been created beforehand. In an educational institution, this ‘space creator’ will most probably be a dedicated person from the IT department.
Once this person sets up the required space, s/he would rarely interfere with the process of managing the content inside and that would typically be only after a request from the Manager of the course or another authorised person.
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There is also a way to create this space independently, which is illustrated in Chapter 5. There it will be illustrated how to proceed if there is no dedicated IT person for this initial stage and none or very limited IT support for the programme. In that case the ‘space creator’ will also participate most actively in managing the site, creating and organising its content. For the purposes of this book the author has created a dedicated space for a sample of an education Programme on Medical Physics on Moodle called ‘EMERALD Medical Physics’ using this independent approach.
As the starting point for our current scenario in this Chapter 3 is the already created space, the entry point is the log-in page, requiring as usual a username and a password. (Figure 3.1) In both cases above, a link to the VLE and an initial password will be communicated by the ‘space creator’ to a new user in advance, usually with the requirement to change it to a more convenient one after the first log-in.
In most cases when the education institution creates the space for the education programme on the VLE, full access to the space
will be given to own staff involved in that programme. (Those people would already have an e-mail account at the institution.) Full access can also be granted to external users depending on their functions on the programme, for instance for visiting lecturers, who need to upload their lectures and/or grade student coursework. Granting full access in such cases can be achieved by setting up an affiliated e-mail account at the host institution. For other participants like external examiners, external programme assessors, and accreditation bodies, setting up an affiliated account will not be necessary normally, as they will not be expected to alter/contribute to the content of the platform. In such case, a Guest account would be more appropriate and that would again be taken care of by the IT department.
The example discussed in this chapter is based on the assumption that the building blocks of the educational programme, the courses, are delivered in a modular basis, intensively over a short period of time (i.e., a week). This is most often the case in current MSc programmes in Medical Physics in various universities as many of the courses are highly specialised and would depend on the availability of the lecturers, who are normally professionals who combine academic with clinical experience. This modularity is in line with the recommendations of the IOMP Model Curriculum  and the IAEA Training Course Series (TCS) 56 . It is also illustrated how this example can be adapted to a course delivered over a longer period of time (i.e., a whole term).
Main Participants on the VLE
There are several roles within Moodle, which relate to different access levels for the participants in the Moodle platform varying in functionality, resource access, and management.
The standard names of the three major and most frequently established roles are Manager, Teacher, and Student. (Note: these are default names, but as Moodle is very flexible for personalisation, one can encounter variation of these names in various education institutions if they have been customised at the institution level.)
Auxiliary or derivative roles such as Non-editing Teacher, useful for a larger course, with a high number of students, will be discussed as well at some point. Throughout the discussion in this chapter and the following one, it will be aimed to illustrate what the functions are for each of these roles.
As discussed earlier, there will be someone responsible for creating the space for the programme, and if this person is from the dedicated IT team at an educational institution, s/he would have no further role in the management of this space, unless for some troubleshooting in case of a major emergency that cannot be solved by other participants.
The role of the Manager will be normally to create the structure of the allocated space, after setting up the front page of a given course on the VLE. The role of the Manager can be performed by non-academic staff in the department delivering the educational programme with an input from the Programme Director.