Communication Tools In A Moodle Course


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Assignment for ETEC 565 66A, Summer 2009

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Communication Tools In A Moodle Course

  1. 1. Communication Tools in a Moodle Course for Anglican Lay Readers<br />Threaded DiscussionsandDimdim<br />David MacdonaldETEC 565 66A<br />21 June 2009<br />
  2. 2. The Context<br />This is a course for Anglican Lay Readers in the Diocese of Algoma (Ontario’s Cottage Country, Northeast and Northwest), delivered via Moodle. All participants are within the same time-zone, but are spread across a very large geographic area, making regular face-to-face meetings impractical, if not impossible. The inclusion of two-way communication tools, both synchronous and asynchronous, will give participants an opportunity to develop a community of practice by sharing their learning experiences.<br />
  3. 3. Tools & Purpose<br />Threaded Discussion<br />Dimdim FreeWeb Conferencing<br />Asynchronous<br />Used for:<br />response to readings<br />course content<br />sharing research and assignments<br />peer critiquing<br />Synchronous<br />Used for:<br />live video presentation of sermons by an instructor<br />audio and text chat<br />PowerPoint sharing<br />web-page sharing<br />whiteboard<br />
  4. 4. Reasons for choosing?<br />Threaded Discussion<br />Dimdim Free<br />This tool is included in the selection of activities in Moodle<br />Discussion fora are an easy, user-friendly way to engage students with each other, the content and the instructor<br />No web-conferencing tools in Moodle<br />Elluminate V-Room (free) allows only 3 participants, only one speaker at a time<br />Dimdim Free allows up to 20 participants, up to 4 simultaneous speakers<br />Open Source<br />Recommended by Ed Tech colleagues from Open University UK, NAIT<br />
  5. 5. Pedagogical Advantages<br />Threaded Discussion<br />Dimdim Free<br />participants can contribute to the discussion on their own schedules<br />allows for reflection before posting and in response to others’ postings (Anderson, 2008)<br />postings can be graded, with marks going directly to course grade-book<br />similar to familiar model of classroom learning (Anderson, 2008)<br />personal contact between participants may encourage more active participation in Threaded Discussions<br />allows students to practice sermon delivery in a ‘safe’ environment with fellow students<br />instructor and peers can give immediate feedback on aural qualities of sermon delivery (tone, emPHAsis, pitch)<br />
  6. 6. Functional Advantages<br />Threaded Discussion<br />nothing to install<br />no additional cost<br />contained within the LMS<br />shows discussion threads fairly clearly<br />WYSIWYG editor<br />attachments allowed<br />flexibility to modify presentation of discussion threads, topics<br />
  7. 7. Functional Advantages<br />Dimdim Free<br />meeting login widget can be embedded in a Moodle web-page<br />nothing to install<br />cross-platform friendly<br />no restrictions on number of meetings in Free version<br />multiple simultaneous audio streams<br />easy recording and archiving of meetings for later retrieval and review<br />
  8. 8. Functional Limitations<br />Threaded Discussion<br />Dimdim Free<br />smiling sun-faces are a bit annoying<br />no capability to flag or bookmark messages of interest for later reference<br />only able to edit messages for 30 minutes after posting<br />discussion layout seems unpolished, not as professional as WebCT CE or Vista<br />only host has video privileges (+1 participant in Pro) (Dimdim, 2009)<br />sound quality suffers if using speakers<br />not always possible for all students to attend synchronously, especially if multiple time-zones are involved<br />
  9. 9. Does the tool work?<br />Threaded Discussion<br />Dimdim Free<br />my experiences in the MET program and teaching online have proven the threaded discussion forum to be a robust, reliable vehicle for academic discourse<br />I tested this tool with several family members in various locations and using Windows Vista and Mac OS X<br />apart from some audio issues on my end (my headset was fighting for USB bandwidth…), the service worked smoothly<br />I have scheduled a sample meeting, with an embedded “Sign In” widget in my Moodle course<br />
  10. 10. Final Thoughts…<br />The inclusion of threaded discussions in an online course is a “no-brainer”, yet it must be handled thoughtfully. There must be a pedagogically relevant purpose to each discussion, expectations for participation and behaviour must be explicit, and the instructor must be able to moderate effectively (Salmon, 2002).<br />
  11. 11. … Final Thoughts cont’d<br />Regarding Dimdim, thiswasn’t my first choice. Having used Wimba Classroom and Elluminate Live! on a number of occasions, my first impulse was to use Elluminate. However, Dimdim’s free service surpasses Elluminate’s handily, and I have yet to be impressed by Wimba’s offering. The software that powers Dimdim is also open source, and freely available to download. I would consider having my IT department install it on our own server, with customizations to allow more synchronous video streams, or even run the Dimdim Virtual Classroom version. The Virtual Classroom can also be run as an embedded module within Moodle and Claroline, all without the need for participants to download or install anything.<br />
  12. 12. References<br />Anderson, T. (2008). Teaching in an Online Learning Context. In Anderson, T. ed. The Theory and Practice of Online Learning 2nd ed. Athabasca, Alberta: Athabasca University.<br />Dimdim. (2009). Dimdim: Web conferencing that just works. Retrieved 12 February 2009, from<br />Salmon, G. (2002). e-tivities: The key to active online learning. London: Kogan Page.<br />