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Leveraging Moodle for Engaging Learning


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This is my keynote presentation for the inaugural Moodle Moot in Hong Kong. I argue that we need to re-think the role of the teacher and to put in place a teaching model that centres on the connect learning developing a personal network. I then argue that Moodle can support this approach to teaching.

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Leveraging Moodle for Engaging Learning

  1. 1. Leveraging Moodle for Engaging Learning Dr. Iain Doherty Associate ProfessorDirector eLearning Pedagogical Support UnitCentre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning 21st September 2012
  2. 2. Not Martin Dougiamas• Three ways you know that I am not MartinThe Hair MoodleThe Looks
  3. 3. Overview• The pitch for today.• Thinking about a learning theory.• Questioning the relevance of the LMS.• Showing why Moodle is the right tool for the job.• Concluding comments.
  4. 4. An Story About a 15 Year Old Girl
  5. 5. Moodle Is Not Rubbish• Clearly enough Moodle is not rubbish.• Nor is it the case that the teachers are rubbish.• Responsibility lies with . . . ?• The simple fact is that Moodle must be used appropriately in teaching and learning.• The BIG question is what does “appropriately” mean?
  6. 6. A Problem: Text Transmission• “While it is ideal if not essential that [the] LMS encourage effective pedagogical practices beyond the mere transmission of text, this may indeed be the dominant current use of online learning resources (Coates et al, 2005, Mot, 2010).
  7. 7. Student Management• Mot writes that, “ . . . usage patterns suggest that the LMS is primarily a tool set for administrative efficiency rather than a platform for substantive teaching and learning activities” (Mot, 2010). 7
  8. 8. Today’s Pitch• We can think about: – Pushing learning theory well beyond the established learning theories; – Changing the role of the teacher to meet the needs of today‟s learners; and – Maximizing learner engagement through designing engaging learning environments.• And Moodle is still the right tool for the job.
  9. 9. The Fifteen Year Old Girl Again• As a learner (Oblinger, 2005) the fifteen year old is: – Always connected to something or someone; – Accessing multiple sources of information; – Learning socially with her friends; – Adept with multiple technologies; – Highly creative and inventive; – Fascinated by certain things; and – Intermittently engaged with learning.
  10. 10. Similarities and Differences• Oliver (2006) argues that teaching using technologies is both the same as and different as traditional teaching: – At a strategic level it is the same (curriculum planning, course planning, lesson planning) – At an intermediate level it is somewhat different (checking forums, receiving online assignments) – At a fine grained level it is completely different (typing replaces conversations, logs replace sensitive observation)
  11. 11. Similarities and Differences “The challenge, then, is not to establish new pedagogies for e-learning in the simple sense ofcoming up with new things to do with learners. Instead, this more complicated picture requires a more conservative approach: finding out what teachers do and why, and then working out how technology can best be used to support that” (Oliver, 2006).
  12. 12. Similarities and Differences “This is not to deny the importance of developinginnovative teaching techniques . . . However, it is to call into question its relevance to the vast majority of teachers . . .” (Oliver, 2006).
  13. 13. The Future• Consider this visual representation of the future of educational technologies. Is Oliver correct?
  14. 14. Learning Theories• Education has operated for decades in terms of three learning theories: – Behaviorism (drill and practice) – Cognitivism (mental structures) – Constructivism (making meaning)• Technologies have been integrated into teaching on the basis of these three learning theories (Mergel 1998).• We need a change because the world has changed!
  15. 15. A New Learning Theory “. . . Internet technologies can be used to make course content more cognitively accessible to individual learners by allowing them to interact with diverse, dynamic, associative and ready-to-hand knowledge networks” (Coates et al, 2005).• What do we mean by a knowledge network?
  16. 16. Connectivism Node Node Personal Learning Network Node Node
  17. 17. Connectivism “Understanding knowledge in a particular era is important in ensuring that we have aligned our spacesand structures with the nature of knowledge” (Siemens, 2006).• Are we teaching in a way that aligns with the nature of knowledge acquisition in contemporary society?
  18. 18. Connectivism “The rapid development of information . . . requires a model that sees learning less as a product (filling a learner with knowledge) and more of a process ofcontinually staying current and connected (learning as a process of exploration, dialogue, and interaction)” (Siemens, 2006). 18
  19. 19. Connectivism “Connecting with people and content is a constant, ongoing, daily activity . . . Learning is a continual, network-forming process . . . As we encounter newresources (knowledge, people, and technology nodes), we may choose to actively connect and create our personal learning network” (Siemens, 2006).
  20. 20. Connectivism• We want to see, “ . . . A shift away from the model in which students consume information through independent channels such as the library, a text book or an LMS, moving instead to a model where students draw connections from a growing matrix of resources that they select and organize” (Mot, 2010) 20
  21. 21. Connectivism• FaceBook• Bebo• Blogs• LinkedIn• Yammer• YouTube• iTunes U• Skype• Messenger 21
  22. 22. Remember the Fifteen Year Old Girl• We can look at our students and say that they are “learning” when they connect to multiple sources of information in order to complete learning activities.• But . . . 22
  23. 23. There Is An Issue• Learning theories are “conceptual frameworks that describe how information is absorbed, processed, and retained during learning” so Connectivism is not a learning theory.• This point is practically important because we still need to know how to go about teaching / designing learning activities that will lead to students achieving the intended learning outcomes. 23
  24. 24. Connected Learners• We need to think in terms of creating learning situations in which we have connected, self-directed learners following personal pathways to knowledge.• Contra Oliver „we‟ need some significant changes.• Can Moodle make this happen? 24
  25. 25. LMS: The Wrong Place to Start Learning?• Siemens says no to the LMS: “ . . . we are repeating the „instructor/school controls‟hierarchy online. Linear, one-way, managed knowledgeflow doesnt work well in a information overload society. Networks do work . . .” (Siemens, 2004).• This is why the fifteen year old girl thought Moodle was rubbish = content delivery.• We can avoid this with relative ease and deliver rich, engaging and rewarding learning experiences. 25
  26. 26. LMS: Not Really The Wrong Place to Start• If there is an issue then it is this; the LMS needs to be employed in the service of student learning.• This means thinking pedagogically in the first instance and then determining whether the LMS has the features and affordances to meet pedagogical needs. 26
  27. 27. LMS: Not Really The Wrong Place to Start• From a pedagogical perspective we can think in terms of trying to “empower the strong and effective imaginations that students need for creative citizenship in the new medium of the web” (Gardner, 2009) 27
  28. 28. The Role of the Teacher Changes• Sage on the Stage or teacher as source of knowledge (King, 1993) – Aligns with Behaviorism and Cognitivism• Guide on the Side or teacher as facilitator (King, 1993) – Aligns with Constructivism and its variants• Meddler in the Middle described as a “usefully ignorant co-worker” (McWilliam 2008) – Aligns with the central tenants of Connectivism 28
  29. 29. The Role of the Teacher in Moodle• Clearly enough Moodle can support the teacher in taking on any of these three roles.• Teacher as guide on side or meddler in the middle: – Chat – Forum – Lesson – Wiki – Workshop – Page 29
  30. 30. Personal Learning Network “What if course portals, typically little more than gateways to course activities and materials, became instead course catalysts: open, dynamic representations of “engagement streams” that demonstrate and encourage deep learning?” (Campbell, 2009). 30
  31. 31. Personal Learning Activities• Project based learning• Experiential learning• Case based learning• Problem based learning• Guided discovery learning• Student led teaching• Student presentations• Interactive teaching sessions 31
  32. 32. Personal Learning Activities in Moodle• Again clearly enough Moodle can be used to deliver all these types of learning activities: – External tool – Forum – Lesson – Wiki – Blog – Book – File 32
  33. 33. Student Artifacts in Moodle• A personal pathway to knowledge implies students navigating their way through a field whilst at the same time creating artifacts of learning: – Blog – Wiki – Book – Assignment 33
  34. 34. Student Artifacts in Moodle• Remember the point about creating “open, dynamic representations of “engagement streams” that demonstrate and encourage deep learning?” (Campbell, 2009). – Book as a portfolio of student work 34
  35. 35. Features and Affordances of Moodle• Siemens says (2004) that an LMS needs to offer: – A place for learner expression (blog/portfolio); – A place for content interaction; – A place to connect with other learners; – A place to connect the thoughts of other learners in a personal, meaningful way - i.e. using RSS and then brought back into the "learner expression tool“; – A place to dialogue with the instructor (email, VoIP, etc.) 35
  36. 36. Features and Affordances of Moodle – A place to dialogue with gurus (apprentice) - the heart of online communities is the mess of varying skills and expertise. Gurus are people currently in industry or established practitioners of the organizing theme of the community. – A place for learning artifacts of those whove gone before - i.e. content management capabilities accessible and managed by the learner. Tools like Furl, are examples of personal knowledge management (PKM) tools. 36
  37. 37. Features and Affordances of Moodle – Be modularized so additional functionality and tools can be added based on what learners want or need. This means a bricolage of course tools - based on open standards - allow for incorporation of new approaches as needed. 37
  38. 38. What About Engagement?• The literature on student engagement is immense (Trowler, 2010).• However, on one definition, “Student engagement refers to the intellectual, emotional and practical interactions students have with educationally purposeful activities and conditions” (Coates, 2005).
  39. 39. Students are Engaged• Cognitive – Interested, involved, stimulated, active, exceeding, inquiring.• Emotional – Excited, exuberant, enjoying, confident, motivated, happy.• Behavioural – Present, participating, organizing, supporting, leading, exceeding. 39
  40. 40. The Fifteen Year Old Girl Has an Epiphany 40
  41. 41. Closing Comments• We do need to re-think the learning theories that we are using;• We do need to re-think the role of the teacher in the teaching situation;• Despite the LMS nay sayers, Moodle is the right tool for the job. 41
  42. 42. References• Campbell, G. (2009b). Engagement Streams As Course Portals. Retrieved September 19, 2012, from 42
  43. 43. References• Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience (CLEX). (2009). Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World. (570), 1-52. Retrieved from• Campbell, G. (2009). A Personal Cyber Infrastructure. Educause Review, 44(5), 58–59. Retrieved from cyberinfrastructure 43
  44. 44. References• Educause Learning Initiative (ELI). (2009). Seven Things You Should Know About Personal Learning Environments. Educause Learning Initiative. Retrieved September 19, 2012, from you-should-know-about-personal-learning- environments 44
  45. 45. References• King, A. (1993). From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side. College Teaching, 41(1), 30–35. Retrieved from• Kuh, G.D. (2001). Assessing What Really Matters to Student Learning: Inside the National Survey of Student Engagement. Change 33(3), 10-17, 66.• McWilliam, E. (2008). Unlearning How To Teach. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 45(3), 263–269. doi:10.1080/14703290802176147
  46. 46. References• Mergel, B. (1998). Instructional Design and Learning Theory. Retrieved from s/mergel/brenda.htm• Mott, J. (2010). Envisioning the Post-LMS Era : The Open Learning Network. Educause Quarterly, 33(1), 1–8. Retrieved from lms-era-open-learning-network 46
  47. 47. References• Oblinger, D. G., & Oblinger, J. L. (2005). Educating the Net Generation. (D. G. Oblinger & J. L. Oblinger, Eds.)Educating the Net Generation (p. 264). Boulder, CO: Educause. Retrieved from• Oliver, M. (2006). New Pedagogies for E-Learning. Alt-J Research in Learning Technology, 14(2), 133– 134. Retrieved from p/rlt/issue/view/914
  48. 48. References• Siemens, George. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved from• Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing Knowledge. Retrieved from Res.pdf
  49. 49. References• Siemens, S. (2004). Learning Management Systems : The Wrong Place to Start Learning. elearningspace. Retrieved September 17, 2012, from• Trowler, V. (2010). Student Engagement Literature Review (pp. 1–74). York, United Kingdom. Retrieved from entengagement/StudentEngagementLiteratureRevie w.pdf
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