Can you teach me Moodle?

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This afternoon a staff member walked up to me and said: “Tomaz, I have been meaning to see you about Moodle. You really need to teach me about how to use it.”

This of course is music to my ears as the resident moodler. But then I returned what is now becoming a standard line and a sure tickler: “I couldn’t possibly!”

She stood there stunned but polite. Huh, did I get her attention.

I did continue:”I would love to have a chat with you about Moodle and show you around but first – have a look in our Sandpit what Moodle is [the “Moodle explained with Lego” clip] and then the sort of things you can do with it [the ‘How can Moodle change a school] clip(s)]. This will give you a broad idea about Moodle before starting to poke around. When done, come up to me with a classroom problem and we’ll solve it together, step by step. How does that sound to you?”

“See you on Monday at the workshop!” was the immediate and enthusiastic reply.

Too often we approach teaching of things like software applications with a “these are the features, click here, click there…” and then leave it to people’s imagination how they are going to use it. Doing so, we tend to break one of the most important rules of communication – we make it about the software not about the people. We own the information, they merely borrow it.

By turning things around and solving a real-life classroom scenario, challenge, problem, idea people suddenly own the solution. They recognise themselves in the picture – “Hey, that’s me”!

Teachers are a very pragmatic lot and love to borrow good stuff. Give’em a good one in Moodle and they will come! If a science teacher has a great solution using Moodle for a problem or idea her class and say, an English teacher sees it and ‘gets it’ – you can bet the English teacher will at least try or ask how to go about it. And coming from a colleague and a fellow ‘struggler’ is a much more powerful thing than coming from the school’s main Moodle peddler like me. The bigger the struggler the more potent the message, even at the subconscious level (“If she can do that I reckon I can do that too!”).

‘Classroom solutions (with software)’ versus ‘Software solutions (in classroom)’. I know which one a regular chalkie would go for and why. Do you?

11 comments

  1. Mary Cooch

    Like it 🙂 Agree with (quote) “Teachers are a very pragmatic lot and love to borrow good stuff”. In our early days of Moodle we had a ‘Moodle Moment’ in our weekly 10 minute staff briefings – someone from a different department each week would show very quickly a way in which they were using Moodle in their area – I learned a lot from ideas from other subjects and it helped spread good practice. Four years on, the Moodle moments are embedded into the staff briefings and it’s great watching teachers, just starting out years ago, showing the more advanced use they make of it in 2009.

  2. Rob

    Spot on Tomaz – we are going to get the teachers to do one thing in a unit or lesson i.e use the technology somehow that will enhance your teaching with the year 9 laptops. Moodle will follow.
    cheers
    rob

  3. mguhlin

    Tom, love your videos on Moodle! I need help, though. At the Classroom 2.0 LIVE–I’m going to advocate to have you go on the show, if that’s OK, not that I have any pull or anything–Moodle show this past week, questions came up about teacher uses of Moodle. As an administrator, my efforts have focused on setting up Moodle, creating an environment that is conducive to that use, but I don’t have much “in classroom” experience in K-12…most of my training in online learning is focused on adults.

    Could you respond here at your blog to some of the questions that arose? Here (http://tinyurl.com/b2nm6a) they are:

    # Cheryl Snyder: Wondering how to use this with an active group of second graders?

    # Amy Chayefsky: teachers – do you see students using the moodle outside of school? Or primarily content delivery during school hours?

    # Mary: I’d like to know more about the literature reading circles

    # Dan McGuire 2: MIguel, get to some of the reporting management tools that really make Moodle special. Teachers can tell who has viewed and uploaded and even from address they accessed the Moodle from.

    # msponseller: My students have never uses or seen Moodle. What is the best way to teach them about its features?

    # msponseller: How do we MOTIVATE students to use Moodle?

    # Leslie: Would Moodle be a good platform for student portfolios?

    Please let me know–comment would be great–whether you’ll respond. With appreciation,

    Miguel Guhlin
    Around the Corner-MGuhlin.org
    http://mguhlin.org

  4. Tomaz Lasic

    Thanks Miguel. No problems, always happy to help fellow teachers (hey, the tagline of my blog says so 🙂 See below:

    # Cheryl Snyder: Wondering how to use this with an active group of second graders?

    Hi Cheryl. I take it ‘this’ refers to Moodle? If so – things second graders would probably enjoy a lot of would be
    – Quizzes (great for literacy, can include pictures and videos in quizzes not just text) for their instant feedback and possibility of scaffolding to mastery (probably ungraded),
    – Lessons (I capitalise here and Quiz because they refer to standard activities in Moodle) that take them from one stage to another exploring things,
    – Wikis (where they get to build things together as a group – keeping it simple of course for 2nd grade),
    – running a little journal eg My Family (text and picture) via Blogs,
    – use chatroom or forum (depending of course on their level of literacy) to generate their own writing and possibly teach about safe use of such tools and associated social skills
    – online display of their class work, projects, video clips of ‘making cardboard city’ for their parents to see by using Webpage
    – record their work or play on video camera and post it on Moodle (great for active kids! they do the funniest and sometimes best things when the camera is on).

    In short – lots and lots of engaging things (it will not require them to look at the screen all the time either!)

    # Amy Chayefsky: teachers – do you see students using the moodle outside of school? Or primarily content delivery during school hours?

    Hi Amy. Actually, the levels of use after hours in steadily increasing at our school. This could be due to kids being able to (these are just a few examples…):
    – post their assignments online from home,
    – post things to their wikis or journal through blogs as things happen after hours,
    – complete homework,
    – read class notes via News forums,
    – chat in Moodle chatrooms (the funniest ones are those with teachers in them at about 8pm – “Sir, get a life will you…” (lived to tell the story  )
    Etc….

    After hours access is really important if you perhaps lack the computer facilities on campus but you can get kids to complete tasks at home using their own computer (eg. great for things like media which may take big chunks of class time), or you simply want to give them a chance to think and express themselves when they ‘get it’ or when it is convenient for them (often leads to much greater quality and depth of work) – for example, I had kids who said almost nothing in online forum during class but then got going from home at 11pm (the ‘lurkers’). If you have a kind Moodle admin they may install a block connecting Moodle to school network to eliminate the need for kids to bring their work to school via CDs and USB – all edited and stored from home.

    Of course, there’s more…hope this helps?

    # Mary: I’d like to know more about the literature reading circles

    Hi Mary. These are great when run in either forums (Q and A) type, a wiki (students cn edit and add as class, groups or individuals) or as a database (bit technical to set up but great for collecting large amounts of info with ability to search).

    If starting I would go with Q and A forum. This means that each student has to post their reflection or review of a text before seeing what others have posted – it really encourages original thought. Once the initial reflections are out, kids can discuss, argue, expand , question each other in an online forum. This really frees their hands in choosing to respond to a particular view rather than hearing one person, then another, then another orally – then responding in the same fashion. With this type of online forum (any type really here) there are 25 conversations happening simultaneously instead of 1. To round things up, kids could discuss (face-to-face) their experience and produce a summary perhaps divided in sections of the text (eg Author & his background, Context, Plot, Characterisation, Language used …) as a wiki – everyone can add and shape.

    Easy to set up technically, but can support face-to-face or purely online lit circle beautifully.

    # Dan McGuire 2: MIguel, get to some of the reporting management tools that really make Moodle special. Teachers can tell who has viewed and uploaded and even from address they accessed the Moodle from.

    Hi Dan. Teachers love this one! Simply click on ‘Participants’ in your course (or anywhere where the name of the student you want to look up is hyperlinked) find the student (scroll and/or search) then click on their name. You will be taken to their profile where you can see all their ‘logs’ (today, all time etc.) This will give you up to the second report (printable too) of their activity. When I show this to my students, they simply say “ah, OK, he CAN see everything” – their choice if they want to push it becomes harder to make because everything is in black and white.

    # msponseller: My students have never uses or seen Moodle. What is the best way to teach them about its features?

    Hi msponseller. The first time I used it I set up a few activities and resources (a couple of useful background documents on their topic), a forum, a simple quiz, mock assignment with funny prizes and a chatroom – and said: “Go break it!” It worked a treat.

    # msponseller: How do we MOTIVATE students to use Moodle?
    Hi again. The motivation to use Moodle is no different to what you do face-to-face. But I would say it is best to make Moodle motivation intrinsic (‘there is something in it for you -> chance to express yourself, tell your story safely, show your creative side, work when it suits you best, connect with people you like, ask awkward questions…). Moodle alone will not motivate your students. (see my 5 Myths of Teaching with Moodle http://human.edublogs.org/2008/10/09/top-5-myths-about-teaching-with-moodle )

    # Leslie: Would Moodle be a good platform for student portfolios?

    Hi Leslie. Moodle 2.0 (released in around May 09) will have a portfolio as a standard feature – I look forward to it myself. However, lots of impatient and innovative moodlers around the world have used Mahara as their choice of a portfolio that
    integrates beautifully with Moodle.

    Hope this helps, I gotta go, my class is waiting. Happy moodling all!
    Let’s stay in touch (twitter ‘lasic’ probably best)

    Tomaz

  5. Kim Caise

    Hi Tomaz! I am one of the three co-hosts for the Classroom 2.0 LIVE! weekly broadcast held in Elluminate each Saturday morning (USA time 11am CST/12pm EST). Miguel started the conversation about Moodle last week and we would like to have you on our show to continue the discussion featuring real world uses of Moodle in the classroom. Please email me and let me know if this is possible for you to join us March 28, 2009. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Kim Caise

  6. Sarah

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Sarah

    http://www.clpostingguide.info

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