Hello, my name’s Catherine Wasiuk and I am going to talk to you about my recent experience of migrating from Blackboard to Moodle focussing on the approach I took to encourage and support staff during this period at my university by creating a learning resource called Moodle Support for Staff. I must note before I begin my presentation that this is a generic learning resourcebut I hope that it will apply in any faculty setting.
In December 2009 the university that I currently work at decided to move from Blackboard to Moodle and the challenge was to accomplish this by the next academic year. We had about 10 months to prepare and train staff and to move all the material across from Blackboard to Moodle. Quite a challenge really. The aims of the project was to improve our e-learning provision and to bring richer technology enhanced learning to the students. It was also an opportunity for staff to re-assess their current practices and provision. In those ten monthswe had to provide training, get staff ‘on side’ and demonstrate the advantages that Moodle has to offer. My role as a VLE Technologist was to support and encourage academic and operational staff in the adoption of a new learning technology.
When I started in my role, I quickly noticed that the staff had mixed IT skills (high and low) and mixed motivation (high and low). These two characteristics played a major role in my approach to encourage and support the adoption of learning technologies.I can plot this against a simple matrix, where each group has its different challenges: Engaged: High motivation, High IT skills – these members of staff are ok. At the forefront of using technology in the university. Early adopters,e-learning enthusiasts. This was the least challenging groupAble: High IT skills, Low motivation – computing for example where they have good IT skills but were not interested in attending training but would sometimes come unstuck with some of Moodle’s features e.g. the quiz settings. When this happened, as in this example, I would provide links to support materials e.g. how to set up a quiz.Willing: Low IT skills, High motivation – this was the group that needed the most support. This group was generally more willing to engage with training. However, this group required more technical support and time e.g. emails, phone calls, and one-to-one contactUnengaged: Low motivation, Low IT skills. Not interested in using technology in teaching and learning. The challenge here is to get them to see the benefits of engaging with learning technologies by providing encouragement. The best example of this is getting staff to see that using the assignment function in Moodle is a quicker and more secure way of getting grades and feedback back to students.
Each group had its unique challenges but my universal approach wasto demonstrate the appropriate use of online learning and technologies in the support of teaching and learning.My approach was to introduce new learning technologies to staff with a carrot rather than a stick. The stick already existed in the fact that Blackboard would no longer be available in September 2010. In the same way, I know that this is the same approach taken by MMU, that is, every unit will for the first time have its own Moodle area come September.So instead of beating everyone with a stick, my approach would be to explain underlying concepts, show the possible benefits and give staff the tools to explore the benefits of technology enhanced learning for themselves. Interestingly, it is not the technology that is usually the main barrier to adopting new learning technologies but rather the process of doing things in a different way.
To encourage and support the adoption of Moodle and new learning technologieswithin the university, I created a Moodle Support for Staff site, which I look after and keep up to date. This is a screenshot of the site.It is split in to sections and is designed for staff to dip in and out of the resource as and when they need to. The Moodle reporting tool shows that they do just that.It isn’t just a resource about how to use Moodle. It also looks at the pedagogy of teaching online and other resources such as web 2.0 tools that can be used alongside or within Moodle.I’ll now look at the different aspects of this learning resource that demonstrates the approach I took to encourage and support the adoption of learning technologies.
My primary approach to encourage and support the adoption of learning technologies is to provide staff with the right tools. I produced a guide and video tutorial for each aspect of Moodle from logging in for the first time to accessing the Report tools in the Administration block. These have been essential in the uptake of Moodle. When a member of staff approaches me for information on say how to upload a file, I can easily point them in the direction of the guides or videos. UCISA’s Survey of Technology Enhanced Learning for Higher Education in the UK found that timeto develop e-learning materials, and to try new technologies, is regarded as the main barrier of technology enhanced learning. Therefore, each guide and video is broken down into manageable chunks, which staff can work through at their own pace and pick and choose the bits they need at that time. These have been a great success and can be measured from staff comments and feedback. The report log also shows that the resources are heavily used.In addition, I have produced how to guides such as how to add a Twitter block to a Moodle site or how to save documents as PDF.
I’m now going to show you an example of a video I created for Moodle Support for Staff, This is how you would add a YouTube video to Moodle. It is 1m 16s long.If this doesn’t work, you can take a look at the videos in your own time as I have put this presentation on SlideShare.
What I was keen to demonstrate to staff was that Moodle is more than a just a repository for course files and folders and also that e-learning is more than just Moodle. The online resources section on Moodle Support for Staff provides an introduction to learning technologies beyond Moodle.There are links to the JISC project I have been working on, the Building Capacity project, digital media resources, such as where to find free audio, images and educational resources online Web 2.0 applications for teaching and learning And further links to other resources on Delicious
A study conducted by Dublin City University found that the most common use of VLEs is transmitting information, class notes and resources, with a relatively low use of the more interactive and innovative features of the VLE.Therefore, I used some of the more advanced features of Moodle in Moodle Support for Staff to demonstrate how the learning technologies within Moodle could be used.In this example, I have created a Web 2.0 database using the Database activity within Moodle. I could have easily put this in to a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet. However, I believe the approach of using practical examples of learning technologies alongside other training materials really does bring the technology to life.
In this section on Moodle Support for Staff I have highlighted the effective and creative uses of the learning technologies in Moodle. In this example I have used the Glossary activity in Moodle and created a Staff FAQ. At first glance, the glossary doesn’t seem to be a very interesting tool. You could simply create a word list in a word processor and upload it. The power of the glossary tool in Moodle comes from its ability to automatically create links in your course for every word in the list.Autolinking can be very effective. Everytime a word in the glossary appears in a Moodle course, it will be highlighted and when a student clicks on the highlighted word, they will see the glossary entry for that word.Other uses for a glossary within teaching and learning include: Introducing new vocabulary Introducing new definitions and conceptsIn this course I have also used the Random Glossary Entry block so that a different FAQ will appear each time you refresh the webpage. The university’s Welsh department uses glossaries as a dictionary and also for grammar.This approach is to show staff that learning resources can be used in many effective and creative ways. This approach is to get staff thinking creatively about learning technologies and how technology can be used in an integral way in the curriculum and not as an add-on or a nice to have.
Muddled about Moodle is a short course that I put together so that staff would be able to test out their skills on a practical level. After all the theory, staff need an area to put their learning in to practice and test out new skills. This is set up as a course, which has a link from Moodle Support for Staff. When staff click on the link, they are automatically enrolled as tutors on the Muddled About Moodle site. The site is broken down in to easy to digest chunks. Each section has some instructions, a link to guides and video tutorials and an area for them to practice. Some staff feel that this is an area where they can test new skills before they do so on their own sites.
The migration from Blackboard to Moodle was deemed a success by all parties involved in the project.The short-time scale helped to reinvigorate technology enhanced learning at the university. Staff could see what Moodle could do and what other learning technologies they could also incorporate into their teaching and learning. Staff have reappraised their approach to using technology and students are receiving better delivery. In conclusion, there are a number of ways and methods to encourage and support staff in the adoption of new learning technologies. My approach is: Provide the tools Provide inspiration Show practical examples Get staff thinking creatively about learning technologies And finally, Have a go!
If you want to see these slides again or just want to get the links for the videos, then I have put them on SlideShare.Thank you for listening.
Blackboard to Moodle Encouraging and supporting staff in the adoption of new learning technologies