It's a first draft, but what do you think so far?
Does it clarify Moodle's intentions at all or is it confusing? How can it be clearer? Some pictures?
Yes I think it's "soft education mumbo jumbo" but then again I am currently studying for a teaching qualification and much of that brings words like "bollocks" and "unfounded, unscientific, faddish nonsense" to mind . One of my favorite targets of vitriol are the learning styles quiziz offerred from the Honey and Momford Coven......Hmm all the rigor of a Cosmopoloitan "are you good at sex" quiz and nearly as credible as the daily astrological forecast.
I suspect that some of the philosophies of Open Source must be informing your effort somehwere along the lines?. Stuff like Free as in Free speach rather than as in Free Beer (roll on the wads of loot from moodle.com.....).
(For those that have not read Martins philosophy I was just quoting him on the soft education mumbo.....)
(where'd I put that big heavy thesis...)
Who is the intended audience for this document? If it is for potential users of Moodle, you might consider the explaination as is --but putting the technical language at the end of the document.
Even though some might think language like like "social constructionist pedagogy" is soft mumbo jumbo, it is still "scary" for those who eschew labels. Maybe others thinks as I do, maybe not. I think I can describe my beliefs as social constructivism but I would not have known that until becoming more involved with Moodle. I just thought I was a teacher who beleived that:
1. your brain compares new sensations to prior experiences. New knowledge is gained by connecting it to past experience.
2. you learn more & retain more when doing, and especially teaching, and
3. collaboration is better than competition.
Does that fit with social constructivism? I might have been put off by detailed descriptions and labeling until I got further into the Moodle discussions.
If your audience is for the uninitiated, I would be happy to give other feedback. If it is for the pro's, I'm not there yet so my thoughts would not be helpful.
Hi again Tom, John, Ger,
This is a continuation of a discussion I started in the wrong place,
on the theme of Moodle's philosophy. I take the liberty of continuing it here. I recommend that readers see the interesting posts of Tom, John, Ger and Martin in the forum above.
First of all, in answer to Tom, I don't mean to talk just about metaphors. I am talking about Moodle philosophy, what I am going to be using Moodle for, and the way that I hope that developers (other than Martin) feel inspired to develop Moodle.
But with regard to the metaphors I have been using. Our esteemed benefactor, Martin writes, and has written on a number of occasions, in reference to suggestions for features that I would like to see implemented, using metaphors such as the following.
It's a kind of dream for computer scientists (and I used to be one) that if we just try hard enough we can build a completely automatic teacher, a system that can adapt to a student and give them exactly the information they need. "Why, then we could set up a course for thousands of busy little students, working away at their homework like rats in a maze, and not have to lift a finger!"
Now while there are certainly questions of degree, and the particular application (my own is "very particular") Martins scenario above describes fairly well the sort of thing I wish to do with Moodle. I have been set the task of administering an automated homework system for 15 classes of about 350 students to start next June.
Calling my students "rats or my teaching methodology a "maze", is not a metaphor that I would have chosen myself. But I am happy to use the lingua franca of this forum and try to give it a positive gleam, because I see what I am doing as positive. And I would be happy if developers of features to provide this kind of functionality also see what they are doing as definitely positive too.
Furthermore, I have been more extreme, than Martin, calling my pedagogy "lying*".
By this I mean to state the implications of my pedagogy clearly, and look the horse square in the mouth! I have also equivocated a lot too because, I do not mean that my teaching methodology is 'a pack of lies', 'brainwashing', or 'out and out deception'. However, it seems to me that, (equivocating a little) the pedagogy I am asserting needs at least to come out "in praise of folly," or in praise of fantasy, not telling the whole truth, estotericism, dreams - or something.
But on the other hand, as John says "a lie, is a lie, is a lie." I am more like John than may be apparent, I think. So, okay, like him I want to be strictly honest here about this: I support some lying in my pedagogy. Put the other way, I do not support pedagogies that attempt to adhere strictly to "the truth".
When you take autonomy from a student, and use testing as a means to force students to do things, then I think I am in a sense maintaining a lie (dream, fantasy, folly). I think that there is a relationship between power and lies. Lies occur when there is force in place to conceal.
And I am saying that force, i.e. testing as a means of making students learn, has a place in education.
If I took the path of truth, if I were 100% transparent, if I made my students aware of the benefits that they would accrue from their learning, of the utility of the value of my education that I am imparting in its truth, I am not sure that students would learn or learn as much. Does this mean that I should not teach them? No, I believe it does not.
There are a number of strategies that I could take to scumble over this "horses mouth" and say "oh, no I am not forcing my students to do anything they don't want to do, at the end of the day." And perhaps I should take this line. I believe, it is the one that Ger takes . And I think that it is the line taken by a variety of educationalists who are a lot brainier than me.
However, I do not think that there is not a future, or higher plain at which my students will realise that any truth that I imparted to them is in fact valuable (Please see my previous post to the other forum for more about this issue). I think that the I am providing them with an illusion. It is a valuable one. But it is not solely in the utility of English. The utility is, partly in the lie* that learning English is useful. I think I am teaching them, partly, the very useful skill of deceiving themselves.
And as long as part of my job is in this task, then part of my job will remaining to force my students to learn.
As Tom points out "lie" and "lying" are very strong words, so finally I would like to substitute, *folly, fantasy, dream, obsession, absorption, game, or faith. Like John, I am quite optimistic about the world. I don't think that it is so bad that we live in a dream. Alas, however, to be positive about this goodly frame, I find have to be so politically incorrect.
Thanks for your comments Ger. I not nearly so urbane and erudite in educational methodologies. I have only come across constructivism, usually called "the communicative approach" and "student centered learning," in my limited field of English teaching as a second language. I have written a fourth-rate paper (in draft, 3.6 MB here) expounding constructivism. Perhaps if I had read the books on education that you have read, then I would be able to find a better way of justifying the use of tests in education. Alas, I have not come across an educational theory that provides an answer to my questions concerning the limits of constructivism. It is probably because I grew up with Pink Floyd and even earlier, The Logical Song, that I am so much of a constructivist. But when I attempt to take constructivism to the extreme you meet... "a Wall" or a social reality that is as I attempt to explain above.
So, I very much hope that the "maze" makers make some more "mazes". The fact is that Moodle has really good methods of colaboration and cooperation but still lacks a test that is not easy to cheat, and the only facility for linking activities or "class scenarios" (read "maze"?) is a "hack".
I would also really like to see your Library Add-on going Tom. When constructivist tools get as good as that, then I think that even my students may start participating without the need for extrinsic motivation. But even with the libary I would like the ability to give a tenth of a percentage evaulation point per post.
I'm not currently a teacher. I do eLearning for various corporations, though I have done some teaching, including teaching English in China and teaching Natural Sciences at a local arboretum during a summer program. This is written with the caveat that I don't have the formal academic credentials, so take it as you will...
If you don't mind my opinion, I think your efforts at 'integrity' are all for the best, but I think you can reach a better conclusion than 'dissembling is all for the best.'
Logicical stances can be met with logic. Emotional stances require emotional manipulation. Students will require a little of each. You've recognized that long term manipulation is not going to be an option for the majority of your students. You've identified the problem and so you use short term emotional manipulation; competivness, social interaction, etc. as you mentioned that you do. What's the problem?
As for "force being concealed" as you mentioned earlier; I think the biggest lie in current educational pedagogy is that graded feedback is required for learning. It may very well be helpful, but most courses that I've gone through use grading more for the sake of standardization than simple feedback. The consumers of a person's class rank and similar info are graduate programs, colleges, and employers and related institutions. Standardization has its uses. Usually its in a student's interest to comply. Ultimatly, it is done for the benefit of outside parties.
Personally, anything that helps to make moodle more secure would be helpful for me because I'm activly involved in this standardization process a la Taylorism and our company pays better than average wages in return. No point in taking tests if the outcome isn't accurate. We might as well hand out surveys instead.
Moodle still seems to lack some features in this regard, such as a person being able to start a test, log out, and log back in again in order to get different random questions. This creates problem with asynchronous test taking but I'm guessing this isn't a top concern for the lords of moodle and PHP is one language I have no experience with so we may have to integrate some other kind of testing. Any suggestions anyone?
Have I misunderstood what you're saying Tim?
I apologize. Apparently the 'log in- log out' thing isn't a huge problem since the timer keeps running. I didn't notice before. Sorry.
Being a newbe in Moodle, your structured description of the underlying philosophy for sure helps to straight out some thoughts.
One conclusion that immy came to my mind after reading yr philosophy was to extend the pleasure, and the high motivation factor of creation, also to students.
It is obvious that both in Moodle, as well as in the Open source community, one very strong motivation factor is the satisfaction of other using/seeing something you have created yourself.
Take for instance the choice module, once you have a subject it is easy to create a number of alternative choices. The result is rather impressive, nice looking choices with radiobuttons and all....
Say that within a class you assign a (different) subject to each student and ask her/him to set up a choice on this subject. You will end up with a set of choices for each student, and of course each student need to answer all of the choices set up. This way you are actually asking each student to act as a teacher for a while, and be the creator of a nice looking choice that all of the other student need to browse and answer.
As you stated in yr Moodle Philosphy, such a role is very effective for your own learning.
Since for obvious reason, you would not like to give away the course constructor role to your students, there should be a nesting function maybe through the assignment module allowing an assignment of any of Moodles modules, primarily I think of the choice module. The assignment would be on course/section/module/student level, so that a specified student get the constructor (and teacher) role for a specific module in a specific section.
The nesting function would ideally make the results (grading, attendance etc) available to the master course.
Maybe all this is a newbee reaction to yr philosophy and this is already knowned stuff and already on wish list....but so far I have not seen this kind of requirements so I take the risk and post it anyway...
Thanks for listening
I like your ideas about nesting the creation of certain modules for students. That does seem like a powerful opportunity for a student. I can image asking students to "present" materials to the class by using a various module (of their choice). One student might think a powerpoint best matches his task; another might want to workshop an activity; etc...
I imagine this is incredibly difficult to code, but your suggestion of having the student create an activity (rather than just participate in one) is new (I think) to these forums and is very interesting.
All one needs to do is set up some extra Moodle courses (or a whole new Moodle site) and set up certain students as teachers. If you want to include grades for it within the "master" course, you can add a "offline" assignment. It's not quite as slick as if the facility were built in but it should certainly be very usable.
But, this goes back to a structural issue with moodle... there doesn't seem to be a way to template content or assignments etc. This way, I, as a teacher, could assign templates to students so that they have a structure to start working upon. Questions of importing and exporting assignments and et.al. in Moodle also rears its head.
I'm very excited about moodle!
Or here's an interesting feature to add along the lines of having students lead or teach sections of the class:
Add the designation of "Week/Topic Leaders", where a student or set of students could be given instructor-level access to just one week or topic of a class--they can add resources, quizes, assignments, etc--with the ability to do evaluations on just that material as well (or not).
Just a thought
And you could always back up the site and export the resources they created to the main course site, right?
It seems that Martins text is a good introduction about the background of moodle. While translating the text to german i wrote a new introduction to Martins text. There are different discussions an a different wording in the european, specially the german training and developement scene.
Martin wrote in his text (philosophy): In future, as the technical infrastructure of Moodle stabilises, further improvements in pedagogical support will be a major direction for Moodle development.
Martin, what are your ideas for pedagogical support? I think about good buisness cases in different contexts, for example school, K-12, university, professional training (It-Training, teamtraining, Leadership) and organizational developement. Pedagogical support can be a set of standard courses in this contexts, short success stories and discussion.
The use of moodle in the tradition of Martins ideas should be more on the surface. A great risk in the further use of moodle will be that a teacher can use moodle also as a learning machine without the philosophy.
At the moment there's a lot of hard work to be done on technical foundations, such as group support, XHTML templates, enrollment architecture, document management system, SCORM. There are also many little corners that need tidying up in the basic modules. All this will solve basic technical problems that people run into every day.
Once these are done I look forward to getting the focus back onto pedagogy. This includes the "separate" courses and documentation that you mention, but mostly what I mean by this phrase is the integration of "wizard-like" decision-aiding forms and improved communities of practice.
For an example of a wizard, when a teacher first enters their empty course, I would like an interactive process to be available that helps a teacher think about what they want to do, and suggest a number of different ways to get there. This "wizard" will help teach a teacher about online learning and the Moodle philosophy, and also do some of the setup work. I envisage similar wizards being available for all the modules, as well as for things the admin has to do.
As the wizard learns about the teacher and the nature of the course, it will provide links to related communities of practice on this site where there are interesting and highly relevant discussions about the issues involved. For example, people teaching English in Asia will find links in their site to a group of other teachers doing the same thing. They may choose to subscribe to this and see a summary of "recent activity" directly in their course or in MyMoodle (via RSS, for example). The idea is to share content, tips, stories and so on.
Hopefully that explains things a little better. There's more but I don't want to give away too much at this stage.
Hi, I am currently using Moodle with a second language class and am in the process of preparing to do some action research on how an online classroom can be used to motivate boys and support their achievement. I just wanted to thank you for writing the pages on Moodle philosophy (social constructivism) and how this is applied in Moodle itself. They are very helpful as I was searching for references in that area. I plan to focus on a social constructivist approach within a blended learning setting with the aim of encouraging students to interact and contribute in a second language learning context. This is my third year using Moodle with my students and they have responded very positively. I also wanted to say that the idea of creating the potential for communities of practice to discuss and share ideas is exciting; it will open up incredible possibilities and accelerate everybody's learning.