Moodle Share Fair

This evening I participated as a coach at Reading Public Schools first ever Moodle share fair. In the room was a mix of a dozen teachers and administrators from the Reading middle schools and high school. I had been asked by our instructional technologist, the great Meg Powers, to participate as a coach to help teachers new to online learning communities get their sites up and running.

The design tools of Moodle are very similar to those seen when using wikis or blog sites. Editing can be flipped back and forth between WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) format and HTML. Some newer members asked how Moodle was different to online communities like Ning? Learning Curve Consortium leader, Romeo Marquis responded by sharing how Moodle was designed “specifically for education,” offering the tools not only familiar to Ning users, but also private discussion forums for student discussion, customizable assessment builders with immediate feedback, online dropboxes, and grade tracker/report cards just to name a few.

For me personally, using Moodle has been a slow start. My Moodle site has a set of half-completed units with discussion boards and assessments that have since passed their usefulness as the content was covered over September and October. Moodle is not to blame… I’ve been using more than ever before to post daily content and the student blogs on my google reader have been a regular place. As high school technology specialist, April Goran noted, “Moodle and other platforms are just like mac and PC users, people come to have their own preference.”

There is still hope for me on the horizon though. Last year, social studies teacher, Anne Low and I embarked on an ambitious research project with plenty of technology embedded within. Last years wiki seemed to work well, but students submitting work periodically proved a challenge as drop folders and file names filled up and became cumbersome. With Moodle, much of those tangles would quickly disappear and feedback can be placed online in a central location for students to read privately, as opposed to consuming valuable class time to conference face-to-face.

It is my personal opinion that Moodle is a nice forum for teachers new to online learning communities who haven’t yet already found their comfort zone using other online education tools. I have heard great reviews from math teachers, Kathy Favazza and Chris Freiberg regarding Moodle’s customer service too. Chris shared today how Moodle administrators and tech services setup their classroom to allow students to upload and download previously unfamiliar files from their graphing calculators! Still, both admit there is a great deal of work leading up to publishing your Moodle page. Bringing one’s own curriculum onto the digital landscape takes time, and adapting them to use technology in the ways that improve student performance and understanding can take even more!


About MrMusselman

K-5 Science Specialist for the Burlington Public Schools of Burlington, MA.
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