A focus on structuring learning in Moodle

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Presentation from one of the keynote presentations from the iMoot2013.
I Moodle, they Moodle, we all Moodle together!

A focus on Learning with Moodle.

Those of us at the iMoot know Moodle. We are probably already sold on what it can do and the benefits to education.

However, for everyday teachers who use Moodle because their organisation provides it, the term Moodle is often used as a noun - a title for a system that can be used to store content and has a wide range of features to support learning (but are not necessarily used).

This keynote looks at Moodle as a verb instead of a noun. Not the verb to ‘meander or tinker away with something’ but as a ‘doing word’ to use in the same context as the term ‘to learn’. We will look at how we can structure Moodle activities for learning rather than content and look at how we promote it to others so that it does get used for learning.

The presentation will show practical examples to illustrate some good (and not so good) practice.

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A focus on structuring learning in Moodle

  1. 1. I Moodle, they Moodle, we allMoodle together!.A focus on the L in MoodleBecky BarringtonLearning by doing…It’s all about learning
  2. 2. I would like to know how YOU use MoodleI would like to know whether you use Moodle, or supportthe use of Moodle, in a traditionally taught environment(such as in school, college, university etc) or if you useMoodle as a delivery platform and never physically see yourstudents.Please pick the option below that best summarises yourmain use of Moodle.• Answer ‘blended’ if you use Moodle as a teaching tool butalso meet your students face to face• Answer ‘distance’ if all your delivery and learning takesplace completely online
  3. 3. Hello!About me and our Moodle!• Work at South Devon College (since 2000)• Using Moodle since 2005• Managed in-house• Over 800 courses• My role is support, develop and promote Moodleand technology to support learning
  4. 4. Moodle• A title for a system that can be used to store contentand has a wide range of features to support learning(noun)• “To dawdle aimlessly, to idle time away; the process oflazily meandering through something, doing things asit occurs; an enjoyable tinkering that maylead to insight and creativity” (verb)http://www.allwords.com/word-moodle.html
  5. 5. Moodle• Should learning be about ‘wandering aimlessly’through an online system or the internet?• Certainly, we hope learning will lead to insight andcreativityHow can we make this happen?• Will a student wander aimlessly through a Moodlecourse and come out the other end with aqualification?
  6. 6. Moodle and LearningThis presentation will look at:• How we can develop and structure onlinecourses and content to ensure that learning canoccur (focusing on distance / online learning initially before applying toblended learning approaches)• How Moodle supports learning and the benefitsof certain Moodle activities
  7. 7. Moodle Use• A sad fact but probablytrue of many Moodlecourses• Not unsurprising– Moodle has SOmuch to offer– But teachers haveSO much to doSorry about the terrible blurry imageMartin DougiamasMoodleMoot Ireland 2013
  8. 8. Getting Started with Moodle• Learning all the things that Moodle can do cantake time;• CPD often focuses on function rather thanlearning• Starting point is often adding content to Moodle– Usually documents that already exist.
  9. 9. Does this look familiar?This isn’t a badthing in itselfHow did we shareelectronic resourcesbefore Moodle?But we knowMoodle can domore..
  10. 10. Moodle can do SO much more!Upload filesAssignmentsLessonsFeedback andsurveysForumsQuizWorkshop URLs /weblinksGlossariesPagesBooksWikisGradesActivity and coursecompletionConditionalactivities
  11. 11. Moodle supports the social constructivistlearning model and Martin uses 5 key areasto link Moodle to learningMoodle was made for learning,not just content storage.When supporting teachers andpromoting Moodle we shouldfocus on learningrather than the functions
  12. 12. From http://docs.moodle.org/23/en/Pedagogy• All of us are potential teachers as well as learners - ina true collaborative environment we are both.• We learn particularly well from the act of creating orexpressing something for others to see.• We learn a lot by just observing the activity of ourpeers.• By understanding the contexts of others, we can teachin a more transformational way (constructivism).• A learning environment needs to be flexible andadaptable, so that it can quickly respond to the needs ofthe participants within it.
  13. 13. Moodle and Social ConstructivismSharing information• Files, forums, databases, lessons, weblinks, blogs• Students should share information to ‘construct’knowledge rather than just access filesCollaboration and shared development of content• Forums, wikis, chatrooms, workshops, glossariesAdapting to individuals needs• Easy for teacher to add extra information• Set up conditions to release content based on studentindividual progress
  14. 14. It’s not just content• MOOCs are one of the current ‘hot topics’;• A MOOC is not just content: It is online,distance learning;• Structure is key;How should we structure online learning?Use the same principles as delivered lessons?
  15. 15. Structuring Learning: Take 1• Introduction– Aims / objectives of learning unit• Developing understanding– Information and activities• Checking understanding– Applying skills– Testing knowledge• Completing tasks– Linking to course goals
  16. 16. DevelopingUnderstanding
  17. 17. CheckingLearningAlso important for students to be able to checkprogress
  18. 18. Checking ProgressSome tools used, utilising activity completion
  19. 19. Structuring Learning: Take 1a• Developed online training that also encouragedcollaboration and reflection• Distance learning from many organisationsStructure neededmore opportunitiesfor collaboration andsharing of ideasrather than justcheckingunderstanding
  20. 20. Structuring Learning: Take 1a• Activities developed to enable personalisedprogress through course.– Students working at own pace– Activity completion– Conditional activities– Course completion• Collaboration and reflection built in to enable thesharing of ideas at all stages
  21. 21. LearningbyDoing
  22. 22. Application followingcollaboration and reflection
  23. 23. Structuring Learning• This simple structure, alongside good practiceguidelines, is used to develop some of our ‘blended’learning courses.• However, for fully online courses, a moredetailed structure is required.• This is especially important when supporting teachingstaff who are developing the content but are used to‘controlling’ the content through taught delivery.
  24. 24. Structuring Learning: Take 2• Introduction and outcomes of unit• Initial / diagnostic assessment to signpost to activities• Learning content– Range of information– Guided learning activities– Interaction and collaboration to ensure learning andengagement• Checking understanding activities; Opportunities to applyskills• Assessment of achievement• Reflection and target setting
  25. 25. Introduction and outcomes of unit• May only be a little information but it sets thescene– Section description– Labels– Pages– Audio files and video trailers
  26. 26. Initial / diagnostic assessment tosignpost to activities• For online courses with differentiation built in, ordifferent levels of achievement, this is important• Could be a simple quiz or lesson• Could be a whole section of activities– Conditional activities to make it games based– Release content of course based on outcome
  27. 27. Learning Content• Core content– Range of information– Guided learning activities– Interaction and collaboration to ensure learning andengagement• Easy to add based on information that mayalready exist (PowerPoints, documents etc) butthis is an area that really needs to be ‘designed’to be beneficial.
  28. 28. Learning Content• In the classroom:– The teacher can control the pace of thelearning content based on studentunderstanding;– A teacher can use body language to checkunderstanding;– Ask questions at pertinent times;– Adapt the content as required.
  29. 29. Learning Content• In Moodle:– Content is delivered for students to complete attheir own pace;– Ideally needs to build in questions and adapt tounderstanding.Great Moodle tools for this:– Lessons: Provides content, adapts to input.– Books and glossaries also provide interactiveand / or media rich content
  30. 30. Checking Understanding• Check learning and understanding– Quizzes (release further content based on results)– Glossaries– Forum– Wikis– Reflective journals– Guided learning activities (such as webquests)– Mahara• Opportunities to apply skills• Collaboration activities work well here
  31. 31. • In practice, these two elements may appeartogether through the core delivery of learningcontent.• Similarly, some of these activities may be ‘guidedlearning’ where the task and support is online butthe activities take place away from the computer(books are still important!)Learning ContentChecking Understanding
  32. 32. Assessment of Achievement• Formative or summative assessment• Teacher graded, self-assessment or peerassessment– Assignments– Quizzes– Lessons (model answers for self-assessment)– Workshop– Wikis– Forums– Certificates and badges for recognition
  33. 33. Reflection and Target Setting• Enabling students to identify their own progressand improve themselves.• Enabling students to become independentlearners.– Blogs– Assignments for personal reflection– Forums for collaborative reflection– Feedback surveys– Checklists
  34. 34. Structure• Using this structure we can support students todevelop their understanding in a constructiveway.• However, the Moodle course is more than justactivities.– All these activities can be added to a courseand still there could be no structure.• Structure supports the learning – it has to makesense!
  35. 35. Structure• Think about:– Course layout and labels as sub-headings;– Guidance on use. (Do the students even knowhow to navigate Moodle?);– Tracking so that students know where they areand where they are going;– Communication to get support when required.
  36. 36. Not too distant…Other considerations fordistance learners• Friendly face• Communication tools:– Be online at a settime or setresponse times• Encourage studentcommunication andcollaboration
  37. 37. Distance vs Blended Learning• Works distance learning and would certainlyhelp for blended learning.• However, how many teachers will develop thatmuch content when they are also teaching faceto face?What value does this have in a blendedlearning situation?
  38. 38. And how do we go fromthis…
  39. 39. Step 1• Ask teachers to add their resources for delivery onto Moodle.• List in the order they will be used.• Present FROM Moodle.Benefits• Links the taught course to the Moodle course.• Students see the structure from the lesson and can easilyrefer back to it.• Teachers start to think about how the structure they apply tothe classroom can help in Moodle.
  40. 40. Step 2• Instead of making PowerPoints for the session,create books.• Selling point: Easier to update and edit.• Present straight from Moodle.• Can easily integrate media.From here we can start to utilise and ‘sell’ otherfeatures of Moodle to support the learningFor example….
  41. 41. Glossaries• By adding a glossary, any terminology listed willauto-link into the book (and pages etc) enablingstudents to develop understanding when theteacher is unavailable.• Creating the glossary takes time, why not askyour students to create it….
  42. 42. Group Work activities• Instead of group creating a PowerPoint, create awiki.• Recording group work discussions - have aforum. Send students other places to collectinformation and collate centrally on the forum.
  43. 43. Course tracker• Ditch the spreadsheet - put onto Moodle!– Keeps all in one place.– Student know what to do next.– All grades stored in gradebook and can beexported.– And / or use course completion for a simplertracking interface for teachers and students.
  44. 44. Develop Over Time• Always sell the benefits before the function• If you are lucky to have a support team, get themto do as much as possible:– Let the teachers be the experts in their field;– Let support staff be the experts in theirs.
  45. 45. Develop a Bit a TimeMOOCs may not be your goal……but how about the flipped classroom?• We can apply the same concepts to aspecific piece of work or topic.• Similarly with homework activities.Even one structured section helps learning
  46. 46. If I Moodle…
  47. 47. Then the students canMoodleIf I Moodle…
  48. 48. Then the students canMoodleIf I Moodle…And we can all Moodletogether!
  49. 49. Anyquestions?In the spirit of the open theme...you can learn by doing!

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