If you are trying to introduce Moodle to teachers or staff at your school or a similar organisation, you have or you will probably hear at least some, if not all, of the five statements below in some shape of form. I deliberately called these ‘myths’ because they simply do not stack up when compared not only to my own experience and that of my colleagues at our school, but to the experience of literally millions of teachers around the world using Moodle in their daily work.
These five myths deal exclusively with teaching and learning with Moodle. I have distilled these after experiences at our school and reading about experiences of fellow Moodlers over the last year or so. For more myths about the technical aspects of Moodle (Top 10) you can visit the Moodle forums at Moodle.org.
So, here are my top five … with replies.
Myth #1 “You need to be an expert and tech savvy to use Moodle”
Can you attach a document to an email message? Assuming that you have Moodle installed and run for you, that is about as advanced as you have to be to start using Moodle in a way that most users begin to use it – as a ‘digital cupboard’, a storage space for your files and folders where you and/or your students can view and download them 24/7. Even some of the basic activities like Choice for example, do not require a great deal of skills – just a little bit of imagination.
You can certainly get a lot more out of Moodle as your proficiency grows but don’t burden yourself too much about it. Do you have to know all about the fine inner workings of a particular car before you drive it?
Myth #2 “With Moodle, you need to be on computers all the time.”
Moodle IS an online management system and at some point you and your students will have to spend some time in front of a computer. But the extent of time spent in front of a computer depends entirely on what you use Moodle for.
Moodle supports delivery of courses ranging from fully online to the occasional use to perform a certain activity or access a resource. The extent of screen time is entirely up to the teacher. The majority of teachers around the world use Moodle in courses that are a mixture between offline and online teaching, learning and assessment. In fact, a hybrid model of courses where Moodle simply supports and/or extends the face-to-face and other activities is by far the most widely used way of using Moodle by teachers and students worldwide.
Myth #3 “Students will love Moodle because it is online and in ‘their world’ “
Probably the most dangerous of the five myths! Do not assume that just by using technology and having courses online will instantly make your subject somehow more desirable, that students will love your teaching or the content, get better grades etc. Good use of Moodle is all about asking good questions and good, insightful, reflective teaching with the selected tools at hand. And no matter how digitally advanced your students, they will look to you for the human ‘touch’, knowledge and guidance.
Regardless of how technically (un)sophisticated you are in using Moodle, good teaching and built human relationships remains the key to success in using it. An orchestra conductor can have access to the greatest musical instruments and individual virtuosos but (s)he still has to make sure they play together well.
Myth #4 Moodle is just about fun and games, it’s a time waster and does not encourage ‘real work’ .”
Moodle does not come packaged with games (but you can install them). ‘Making learning fun’ is not the driving force behind Moodle, ‘making learning valuable’ is. It really comes down to pedagogy – the science, or rather art of teaching. If students are not engaged and want to waste time, they usually will (or at least try to) waste time with whatever they find – each other, pens, computers, paper clips, phones, anything really to be off task, including Moodle.
Moodle is an all-in-one package of fantastic tools to engage, encourage and/or extend students in the primary purpose of education – learning. This goes particularly for learning by doing, sharing, observing and working with others, including yourself as a teacher. If you don’t see this type of learning beneficial, Moodle will probably be of less use to you.
Myth #5 “Moodle is just another thing we need to learn, deal with and worry about now. Admin will probably switch to something new in a year or two anyway so why bother using in and learning about it now.”
While certainly hugely popular around the world, Moodle is just one of the many content/learning management systems with similar features around these days. Regardless of the brand and functions, the use of such systems is increasing at a rapid pace in schools, businesses and other organisations. If your students attend tertiary study they are very likely to use such a system as essential to complete their studies.
By learning about and using Moodle, you will build a range of highly transferable skills you can take to your next job, even your retirement! Most importantly, you will build a way of thinking and the confidence to harness and use the power of increasingly ubiquitous digital technology in a merger with the timeless task of education – safely, manageably, one module at a time. And if Admin decide to change from Moodle to something else (and why would they want to do such thing ? it will take you much less time to learn the tricks of a new, similar software. More importantly, you will know how to put it to good use.
There you go. These are just my top five and there surely are more.
If you have heard any of these five myths, found my rebuttal misguided or useful, or you believe we can give more myths about teaching with Moodle a critical, constructive consideration please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
And what if we replaced the word/subject ‘Moodle’ with a broader concept of ‘digital technology’?