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  • 1. Teachers Perceptions of Using Moodle: an Exploratory Study Patrícia Fidalgo Instituto Piaget, Almada, Portugal pfidalgo@almada.ipiaget.org João Paz Instituto Piaget, Almada, Portugal jpaz@almada.ipiaget.org Fernando Luís Santos Instituto Piaget, Almada, Portugal fsantos@almada.ipiaget.org Abstract: This poster is a report on the findings of an exploratory study conducted in a Higher Education Institution about type of use, effects on teaching practice and perceptions of teachers about Moodle as an instructional tool in both on-line and face to face courses. Three groups of teachers using differently Moodle were surveyed with an on-line questionnaire during the academic year of 2009/2010. Descriptive statistics and Kruskal-Wallis test showed no statistically significant differences between groups, despite having different training. The context of implementation of the Learning Management System by the Institution may also help to explain some of the findings.Introduction The gradual integration of Information Technologies and Communication Technology (ICT) in HigherEducation (HE) has proved a challenge and a research area in full growth. The progress of these technologiescoupled with the great development of the Internet, have brought substantial challenges to educators. Theadoption of technology is important in many aspects and "a comprehensive infrastructure for learning isnecessary to move us beyond the traditional model of educators and students in classrooms to a learning modelthat brings together teaching teams and students in classrooms, labs, libraries, museums, workplaces, and homes– anywhere in the world where people have access devices and an adequate Internet connection. Aninfrastructure for learning is necessary to support a learning society in which learning is life- long and life-wide" (Atkins et al., 2010, p. 51). The strategic importance of ICT to educational institutions (Allen & Seaman, 2008) reinforces the needfor knowledge about them to increase their effectiveness and efficiency. “Instructors need to understand thedifferent components of the LMS and how these components will work to make the course effective andefficient. The LMS should be able to create pedagogically sound course content and learning objects easily andefficiently. It should have all the necessary e-learning tools for assessment, communication, collaboration, andcommunity building, as well as for the creation and management of online learning courses.” (Lewis et al.,2005, p. 26) The LMSs have been adopted by HE institutions both as support to face-to-face and as distancelearning. In Portugal, LMS are increasingly used by universities, driven by the use of ICT, among other reasons,and some of the assumptions of the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area(EHEA) (European Union, 2010). “The integration of ICT in the Portuguese education system has beenconstant since the 80s culminating in 2007 with the approval of the Technological Plan for Education whichgave to students computers and internet access in a relatively generalized way, creating challenges andopportunities for Higher Education” (Santos, Paz & Fidalgo, in press). In this sense, Lencastre and Monteiro(2009), held in Portugal, a study involving teachers of a HE institution in which they planned, among otherobjectives, to assess new concepts, attitudes and approaches to the learning process by using the LMS Moodle.The same study emphasizes the importance of research on teaching and learning platforms. Recent studies about Moodle usage in Portugal in secondary schools (Lisbôa et al., 2007) and HEInstitutions (Magano, Castro & Carvalho, 2008 e Lencastre, Vieira & Ribeiro, 2006) stressed that Moodle is
  • 2. mainly used as a content distributing platform and the importance of further teachers training to change practiceand to encourage higher quality use. In the course of our research we expect to contribute with useful information for users and educationalinstitutions in the process of using and implementing this kind of platforms.The Study Piaget Institute has made an effort to modernize its technological infrastructure to implement a trainingmodel able to answer XXI century learning challenges, where the presence of Moodle is a constant, as supportto face-to-face teaching, or in blended courses where the teaching has a strong online presence. To this effectteachers must be trained on how to use the technological tools and use them in a pedagogically effective way. InDecember 2007 Piaget Institute started the Online Education Project. In terms of pedagogical implementationpivots of the project were appointed on each campus (the option for a pivot on each campus served twodimensions: first, to have a local reference point for potential users, and second to take into account the localrealities of the various campi) and selected teachers called pioneers or precursors, responsible for promoting andreplicating the instruction processes with their colleagues and the academic community (Lencastre & Monteiro,2008). The pivots and pioneers received internal training, on technical and pedagogical use of the Moodle.These pioneers sought through a viral network to extend the use of the technological tools available to otherteachers (Lencastre & Monteiro, 2008, 2009). In 2009, it is renamed Piaget Online Project, and in 2010 thePiaget Online Education and Training Unit is made formally responsible for assuring access and availability toMoodle LMS and the training of students and teachers in each Campus. This study was conducted by theAlmada Team.Participants The participants completed an anonymous self-administrated on-line survey (using Google forms) with37 questions. Of those 7 questions were of multiple choice, 11 of direct response, 5 open questions and 14 of anattitude scale. The questions were distributed as follows: 14% about motivations to the use Moodle (only forgroup A, not examined in this poster), 11% about the type of use of resources and activities, 48% aboutperceptions of use and 27% about the characterization of participants.Procedures Presently, there are three kinds of Moodle usage by teachers in Piaget Institute. A first group ofteachers uses Moodle as an active complement of face-to-face courses (its use is optional), a second group usesMoodle on-line in a blended learning regime in 20% of their classes (mandatory use by institutional regulationsin some Post-Graduation and Master Degree Courses) and a third group uses the LMS on-line also in a blendedlearning regime in about 80% of their classes (mandatory use by institutional regulations in core curriculumunits of the Piaget Institute). From now on we will designate the three groups as A, B and C. Among the teachers 51 were surveyed relating to the academic year of 2009/2010, 26 from group Awith 24 replies (92%), 20 from group B with 7 replies (35%) and 5 from group C with 4 replies (80%). Data were collected with the following purposes: 1. Ascertain reasons of using Moodle; 2. Identify effects the use of Moodle had in teaching; 3. Characterize the use of resources and activities available in Moodle; 4. Identify perceptions of advantages and disadvantages of using Moodle; 5. Compare the results of the three groups. We analyzed the results of the survey applied in order to answer the questions of the study. A databasewas created and codified using R statistical software where we proceeded to the analysis. The procedures were
  • 3. mainly of two types: descriptive statistics and exploratory data analysis using Kruskal-Wallis one-way analysisof variance by ranks, a non-parametric method because we were not dealing with a normal population.Findings The results and their discussion focused on three essential moments. At first, we gathered the globalresults, tracing the moodle user teacher profile. Then we gathered the results of each group and compared them.Global results We analyzed the perceptions of teachers about changes in their teaching due to the use of Moodle andfound a small difference between yes (48%) and no (46%) despite the existence of 6% indicating not knowing ifthey had changed their teaching practice. A profile of the teacher-type was drawn from the global data indicating that a teacher between 31 and40 years (48%), male (59%), with a Masters degree (55%), a full-time labour contract with the institution(66%) and has taught in HE for less than 15 years (76%). He had already experience of using Moodle as ateacher (36%) it was not the first year of use (53%), rates himself as good (44%) in the use of Moodle andobtained his skills from internal training (40%) and have altered their practice by the use of the platform (48%).Results All figures are presented as percentage of stacked allowing the comparison of the proportionalcontributions of all groups. As shown in fig. 1 the three groups presented the same kind of reasons for using Moodle with nosignificant differences between them. T o (support ) activities in the classroom T o (support) activities outside school hours T o keep the resources of my course organized … A – face-to-face T o receive students work B – b-learning (20%) T o communicate with students … C – b-learning (80%) For evaluation of students … As a repository of content Figure 1: Reasons for using Moodle There were no significant differences between the three groups regarding the effects of Moodle inteaching practices as shown in fig. 2 although it was group B that, surprisingly, changed more his practice. Dont know A – face-to-face No B – b-learning (20%) C – b-learning (80%) Yes Figure 2: Effects of the use of Moodle in teaching
  • 4. The use of resources and activities also showed no significant differences between the groups as shownin fig. 3 and fig. 4. Add an IMS content package Display a directory Link to a file or website A – face-to-face Compose a web page B – b-learning (20%) C – b-learning (80%) Compose a text page Insert a label Book Figure 3: Resources usage in Moodle Fig. 4 shows some differences between group C and the others (although non-significant, as referred)in particular in the non-use of some activities such as Choice, FLV Player and Journal. Another factor to note isthe non-use by any group of SCORM / AICC. Wiki Assignments Quiz Database SCORM/AICC Choice A – face-to-face Quest ionnaire B – b-learning (20%) Lesson C – b-learning (80%) Survey Glossary FLV player Forum Journal Chat Figure 4: Activities usage in Moodle
  • 5. Teachers’ perceptions about the advantages and disadvantages of Moodle are shown comparing the 14attitude scale questions. The questions F, H, J, N and O (originally in a negative form in the questionnaire formethodological reasons) were recoded and appear in the affirmative form in tab. 1. Group A Group B Group C Question N=24 N=7 N=4 X² p (Range 1 to 5) Median rank Median rank Median rankA. Contact with students is facilitated through the use of synchronous and 4 4 4.5 .8 .7asynchronous toolsB. It is an excellent repository of various types of content 5 4 4.5 1.4 .5C. Work on Moodle from any location is a plus 5 5 5 .3 .9D. Work on Moodle at any time that is convenient to me is a plus 5 5 5 .8 .7E. Its very useful for organizing my classes 2 2 2.5 .7 .7F. Moodle is very useful to receive assignments from students 4 4 4.5 2.8 .2G. Help me to save time in the organization of classes 3 3 3 .7 .7H. Moodle has resources and/or activities to meet the objectives that I propose 2 2 2 1.6 .4in my classesI. Does not make the relationship between teacher and student impersonal 2 3 2.5 3.0 .2J. It is flexible in terms of structure 3 3 3 .9 .7K. It is flexible in terms of content there may arise 2 2 1.5 4.1 .1L. Working with Moodle is not difficult and/or complicated and doesn’t require 2 2 2.5 1.2 .5specific technical skillsM. The appearance is attractive 2 3 3.5 3.3 .2N. Moodle has educational use 2 2 1.5 .1 .9NS Table 1: Perception of teachers on the use of Moodle. Kruskal-Wallis test indicated no statistically significant differences between groups. The correlation ofPearson product-moment was calculated showing medium and strong correlations that ranged from 0,7 to 1 forall the 14 questions. A Cronbachs alpha of 0, 9 showed the reliability of the data. Tab. 1 shows us the prevalence of positive perceptions of teachers regarding Moodle in teaching andlearning process stressing its use as a communication tool, content repository, ability to be used anytime andanywhere and to receive assignments.Discussion In the current study, we examined reasons for teachers to use Moodle in their practice, the use ofresources and activities, their perceptions by comparing three different groups of teachers in Piaget Institute. Regarding the type of use teachers enhanced the support of activities outside school hours, to receivestudent’s assignments and as a repository of content. As weaker points in the use of Moodle teachers enhancedthe need to have technical skills to work with it. Our results also show that although different, all groups use similar resources and activities and theperceptions of teachers are mostly positive, again cutting across all groups and considering factors such ascommunication, repository and educational use. Future research should consider replicating the current research with respect to teachers in otherdomains and learning environments.
  • 6. ReferencesAllen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2008). Staying the course - Online Education in the United States, 2008.The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. Newburyport: JBJS. Retrieved from http://www.ejbjs.org/cgi/reprint/73/4/479.pdfAtkins, D. E., Bennett, J., Brown, J. S., Chopra, A., Dede, C., Fishman, B., et al. (2010).Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology. Learning.European Union, C. O. (2010). 2010 joint progress report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the ‘Education and Training 2010 work programme’. Official Journal of the European Union, 1(117), 1-7. Retrieved from http://eurlex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2010:117:0001:0007:EN:PDFLencastre, J. A. & Monteiro, A. (2009). Mapping the foundations of collaborative work in the higher education. In Actas da EDULEARN09 - the International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies. http://www.iated.org/edulearn09/Lencastre, J. A. & Monteiro, A. M. (2008). An on-line project in a higher education institution. In EADTU Conference 2008 - online proceedings. Lifelong learning in higher education: Networked teaching and learning in a knowledge society. Poitiers France.Lencastre, J. G., Vieira, L. F., & Ribeiro, R. (2007). Estudo das Plataformas de eLearning em Portugal. Lisboa. Retrieved 25 March 2010 from http://www.elearning-pt.com/lms2/Lisbôa, E. S., Jesus, A. G., Varela, A. M., Teixeira, G. H., & Coutinho, C. P. (2007). LMS em Contexto Escolar: estudo sobre o uso da Moodle pelos docentes de duas escolas do Norte de Portugal. Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, 2(1), 44-57.Lewis, B. A., MacEntee, V. M., DeLaCruz, S., Englander, C., Jeffrey, T., Takach, E., et al. (2005). Learning management systems comparison. In 2005 Informing Science and IT Education Joint Conference (pp. 17- 29). Flagstaff, Arizona, USA: Informing Science. Retrieved from http://www.ultimedia.co.uk/upload/E- Learning and LMS Comparisons/Learning Management Systems Comparison P03f55Lewis.pdfMagano, J., Castro, A. V., & Carvalho, C. V. (2008). O e-Learning no Ensino Superior: um caso de estudo. eft- educação, formação & tecnologia, 1(1), 14.Santos, F. L., Paz, J., & Fidalgo, P. (in press). Building proactive teachers: a self-regulated learning experience in Higher Education. In Proceedings of Self-regulated Learning in Technology Enhanced Learning Environments: Problems and Promises. Universitat de Barcelona.