I am a newcomer to Moodle and I am confused.
I have been teaching, and using computer generated materials in the classroom for many years. Since looking at the Moodle sites of various colleges I have seen a lot of tutors putting exactly the same online as they used in the classroom. Is this common practice?
Surely a powerpoint, for example, that has me in front of it talking about it, eliciting discussion about it, verbally picking out specific parts of it, should be a largely different design to a powerpoint that is meant to be accessed by a student with no tutor input?
How much can the tutors be asked to produce/edit material so that the students are progressing online efficiently?
"Surely a powerpoint, for example, that has me in front of it talking about it, eliciting discussion about it, verbally picking out specific parts of it, should be a largely different design to a powerpoint that is meant to be accessed by a student with no tutor input?"
I think that is correct. However, shortage of time often leads to the behaviour you describe above that.
Not just a shortage of time. Many teachers, especially in higher education who don't have any teacher training or qualifications, don't have the knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience to produce acceptable quality learning resources for online use. Those that do, have often learned through dedicating themselves to a long, steep learning curve in online learning and teaching theory and practice. Teachers that have heavy workloads, family commitments, after school activities, etc. don't have the luxury of that much spare time.
Additionally, teachers' work on learning resources is rarely professionally recognised and doesn't count towards calculated work hours or considered for performance reviews or promotion.
Any organisation or institution that is serious about online learning needs to take these factors into consideration and re-organise their teachers' pay, workloads, performance reviews, professional development, etc. accordingly.
Hi Matt, Tim,
I agree with both of you, but (and without wanting to throw dirt in teachers' faces) a very smart priest once told me, it's not that you haven't got enough time - it's that it isn't important enough to you.
I teach in both camps - in school and in industry. My commercial customers pay for a service and the preparation time is costed into the equation. Schools don't do this, but in many (most?) countries teachers are paid for the time when school is out.
And before I put on my asbestos suit, I'm well aware that the teachers who read this are the ones more likely to use this time to improve themselves or prepare materials. I suspect they are the minority though.
All the best
I'm going to defend teachers by saying that as long as online learning is treated as an unpaid extra-curricula activity, like a chess, sports, or science club, teachers should be free to decide which of those activities, if any, they choose to participate in. (And K-12 teachers NEED those holidays to recover from the term's workload and stress!)
There's plenty of reasons and advantages for using online tools in education and I've read a number of essays where teachers have claimed that better at online teaching has also made them better classroom teachers. However, I suspect that the vast majority of people posting in these forums are the interested and dedicated few who've decided that online learning is worth their time for one reason or another.
I'm interested in understanding why many others are not interested and/or why they find online learning unattractive and/or demotivating for any reason.
In principle I agree with you. The only point I would take issue with is that IMO things like preparation (which for me would include online materials preparation) are not unpaid - they are factored into the pay. It's like correction. I'm not aware of any place where teachers are paid directly for correcting work, but it's an integral part of the job (unlike a chess club). Here I would not draw a distinction between online preparation and traditional classroom preparation - they are both part of the job.
The issue of whether teachers are being paid a fair amount for this is a different issue and one that I've no interest in debating, but for me the online element is integral to the job, and in a school which provides that option I really can't see grounds for a teacher to opt out.
As for your last remark, when I talk to teachers about this (which I do quite a lot) I often get variations on the theme, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Digging deeper, the causes for this attitude are sometimes fear of change, sometimes laziness, and often the belief that they are duplicating work rather than relocating it. Time is invariably cited as an issue (hence my original remarks) but I feel that stopping there is not really getting to the root of the objections.
All the best
Fair points. I guess it depends on the circumstances, terms and conditions, etc. in each case. Some employers can be generous, reasonable, and considerate while others can... well... I'm sure most of us have had negative experiences of employers and/or management.
I do maintain that the majority of teachers, at least in my experience, find curriculum development difficult and time consuming. When it's online curriculum development, that adds to the burden. It'd be nice to see employers and managers take that into consideration.
"it's not that you haven't got enough time - it's that it isn't important enough to you."
It was important to me, I was not paid for enough time to do it properly. I left teaching.
I am not alone in this. It amuses me in the UK that those in power claim there is no problem recruiting teachers. I remember in the last few years seeing full page national newspaper adverts for people to become teachers. I remember going down the escalators on the London Underground with adverts recruiting teachers all the way, nothing else. Funny how you don't see the same to try to persuade young people to become doctors, lawyers or engineers.
Obviously, you don't need Moodle to give students access to a ppt. So, our approach since many years is to embed the ppt resource (more precisely a google-slide presentation) in a quiz, then you have to design questions to make students think about the ppt content. And in doing this maybe you could realize the ppt needs improving, if students answers are not what expected. All of this makes a difference.
I don't think there is anything wrong with making PowerPoints available - maybe there were used in class, and the learners can later access them for revision ?
However, a PowerPoint is likely just the first step in supporting learners online (together with .pdf's and other static resources), although there is a clear difference in requirements between 100% online learning, and blended learning.
The next steps are far more engaging - using Forums to discuss the PowerPoint content, a Quiz based around the content, a Choice activity to decide an outcome, a Wiki to collaboratively capture the 6 key points, ... etc. etc. Essentially, just good teaching and learning techniques.
Yes, I can confirm that you are confused. Here is some evidence:
- The subject (I), "The difference between online learning and classroom based..."
is in flesh and skin. You talk like that the classroom is teaching. No, there is a human in it!
> The subject (I), "... computer generated material"
Same problem. The computer doesn't generate anything. There is a human giving it instructions.
> I have been teaching, and using computer generated materials in the classroom for many years.
Really, can you be more specific about those "computer generated materials"? Don't you mean, you have created electronic documents using some sort of an "Office" package?
> Since looking at the Moodle sites of various colleges I have seen a lot of tutors putting exactly the same online as they used in the classroom. Is this common practice?
As others have pointed out, if those courses are conducted face-to-face, what is wrong about making the electronic teaching material available to students?
> Surely a powerpoint, for example,
What the point in PowerPoint? (Search the web for "pointless powerpoint").
Or do you mean "presentation slides"?
> that has me in front of it talking about it, eliciting discussion about it, verbally picking out specific parts of it, should be a largely different design to a powerpoint that is meant to be accessed by a student with no tutor input?
Depends on the teacher. If the teacher expects the students to understand the subject during the presentation, the slides are just reference. If you want to convey slides and the lecture, you must make a video.
> How much can the tutors be asked to produce/edit material so that the students are progressing online efficiently?
I would have said, you are not only a newcomer to Moodle but to the whole field of blended learning, not to mention pure on-line learning. But you've been in the moodle.org for eight years, how come? More surprisingly, this is your only forum post in all those eight years(?).
Well, if you have been trolling, I bit it!
Hi there and thank you for your reply and I totally accept some of your implied criticism of my first posting. In my defence let me explain.
Some years ago I looked at Moodle and a job associated with it. I then carried on working with teenagers in a school that did not use moodle and then came across another job that was associated with Moodle recently so I have been working on it for a couple of weeks in preparation for interviews etc. Hence I a born again newcommer.
In the meantime I developed a number of e learning programs, an online system of interactive video for education and some educational apps for android. I see that e learning can enhance what is done in the classroom. What I was unsure of was how far other colleges have walked down this road.
I think we have three types of student accessing our files online.
There are those in our lessons who are checking things out during class time. My son is at university for example. He does not like wearing his glasses and hence cannot see the on screen presentation very well. He uses an android tablet to access the presentation and notes while the lecture is going on.
There are students who have attended the lesson and are going online at a later stage. As people have said on this site the documents used in the lesson/lecture/turorial are useful for revision/reinforcement purposes.
But I understood the online side of blended learning was meant to extend the learning rather than just revise what was done in the lesson. The computer/web offers far more interactive and engaging opportunities than static PDFs or page turning presentations (yes I accept my mistake saying Powerpoints. We are not restricted to Microsoft products.)
From the informed replies to my post it looks like, due to a number of reasons including lack of time, many tutors are using Moodle as a receptacle in which they can leave documents, much in the same way a postal pigeonhole was used thirty years ago.
Those documents whilst generated on the computer, not computer generated I accept my mistake, were not designed to utilise the full learning, engagement and didactic power of well designed online resources.
I wasn't trolling. I was trying to get some idea of where the industry has got to so far.
All the best
I agree that blended learning should be a redesign of a class traditionally taught in a lecture. It's an entirely different modality, requiring a new approach to teaching - one that gets the students involved in creating and analyzing material.
I did a presentation on this at MountainMoot 2014. This one is about engaging students in real-time in the classroom using Moodle. There are some times in this presentation where the techniques are demonstrated with the audience:
Also, here's another talk from NWMET 2015. This is about engaging students while they are not in the classroom, and structuring the learning such that a close contact is maintained inside and outside of the classroom. It's a review of a class I taught to a group of college professors using Moodle, as well as the literature on which I based the class. I also gave this at USMoot 2015, but I don't have a recording of that one:
By the way, I know it's somewhat hypocritical to post videos of lectures given in person in context of this discussion. Feel free to slap me around for it .
I am relieved that you took my criticism in good spirit. As you have noticed a couple terms and phrases in the OP irritated me. As it often happens, to me at least, in these on-line forums I didn't have the patience to give a diplomatic answer.
Now to your original question: Only by reading your previous post I understand your question. When you talk of "on-line learning" you mean the on-line, i.e. at a networked computer device, component of a course which is also taught face-to-face. The question is whether it is a repetition of what has been done in the classroom or is it an extension, i.e. exercises which were not conducted in the classroom but an integral part of the course augmenting it.
I would say, both are possible. It depends on how much time students spend, or are supposed to spend, in the classroom and on-line. These numbers are part of the course definition. It is the old question of "how much homework"! Obviously there is no general answer. Well, unless, you have scheduled on-line work.
The answer is not simple. For example, read the parallel thread "Are rubrics really a good thing? Upcoming webinar" https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=322155.
When we start talking about homework, the orthodox view of its benefits and parameters aren't supported by evidence. When we add online homework into the mix, we can either mitigate the negative effects of homework as it's commonly practised, or compound them.
Like you say, it's complex.
Here's a couple of short articles aimed at teachers, admins, and parents:
An unnecessary evil? … Surprising Findings From New Research
By Alfie Kohn
A brand-new study on the academic effects of homework offers not only some intriguing results but also a lesson on how to read a study — and a reminder of the importance of doing just that: reading studies (carefully) rather than relying on summaries by journalists or even by the researchers themselves."
By Alfie Kohn
After spending most of the day in school, children are typically given additional assignments to be completed at home. This is a rather curious fact when you stop to think about it, but not as curious as the fact that few people ever stop to think about it.
It becomes even more curious, for that matter, in light of three other facts:
1. The negative effects of homework are well known. They include children’s frustration and exhaustion, lack of time for other activities, and possible loss of interest in learning. Many parents lament the impact of homework on their relationship with their children; they may also resent having to play the role of enforcer and worry that they will be criticized either for not being involved enough with the homework or for becoming too involved.
2. The positive effects of homework are largely mythical. In preparation for a book on the topic, I’ve spent a lot of time sifting through the research. The results are nothing short of stunning. For starters, there is absolutely no evidence of any academic benefit from assigning homework in elementary or middle school. For younger students, in fact, there isn’t even a correlation between whether children do homework (or how much they do) and any meaningful measure of achievement. At the high school level, the correlation is weak and tends to disappear when more sophisticated statistical measures are applied. Meanwhile, no study has ever substantiated the belief that homework builds character or teaches good study habits.
3. More homework is being piled on children despite the absence of its value. Over the last quarter-century the burden has increased most for the youngest children, for whom the evidence of positive effects isn’t just dubious; it’s nonexistent."
I read both Kohn's and Willingham's articles and have seen a number of Willingham's presentations and discussions from conferences. For one, Kohn is highly influential among the popular science writing audience and his rather negative review of Willingham's book, "Why don't children like school," must have stung a little (and it's true, Willingham doesn't actually answer his own question in the book, although it is worth reading).
In the article you linked to, Willingham has over-simplified Kohn's arguments. Kohn argues, not against what the research says and recommends but how many teachers' and admins' beliefs don't fit the research in subtle but important ways.
Anyway, the saga continues...
I agree completely with what you say. The problem I have with Kohn is that his interviews (and to a certain extent his presentations) often seem to be overly focussed on getting out the soundbite or the headline. That's why the media love him of course, but because of that his message gets clouded. I'm completely certain he's smart enough to know that, but he seems to have decided that playing to the gallery is more important (and I'm sure it secures him very well-paid engagements!)
I just wish he would be a bit more even-handed in some of his interviews - it doesn't make for such good headlines, but it would raise the level of the debate.
I live and teach in Japan, where claiming that homework has no benefits or is bad for children would be like saying oxygen is bad for your breathing. We live, breathe, eat, and play homework from six years old to twenty-six years old. Even before elementary school, most parents teach their children to read (granted the Japanese phonetic alphabet is easy to learn). Parental involvement and home study are normal, expected, and part of good relationships and communication. My reaction to Kohn's brief quote, "three other facts" (I would never trust a researcher who uses the word 'fact') and sweeping statements like: "The negative effects of homework are well known" scare me. That is like making a sweeping statement, "classrooms are bad for learning" or "MOOCs are bad for learning" (well, they are, but my point is that we make these sweeping statements too easily, and perhaps as Andy says, Kohn is looking for sound bites or trying to sell something. On the flip side, I don't mind being told that I should not assume every new thing I do in education is good thing. I am victim to my own excitement and need to keep 'innovating'.
Because everyone around you does it and it's unacceptable to question/discuss it, that doesn't necessarily mean it's OK. Have you read any of Peter Grey's articles? He's highly critical of schools and parents that try to push academic training from pre-school and elementary years:
"Early Academic Training Produces Long-Term Harm
Research reveals negative effects of academic preschools and kindergartens.
Many preschool and kindergarten teachers have told me that they are extremely upset—some to the point of being ready to resign—by the increased pressure on them to teach academic skills to little children and regularly test them on such skills. They can see first hand the unhappiness generated, and they suspect that the children would be learning much more useful lessons through playing, exploring, and socializing, as they did in traditional nursery schools and kindergartens. Their suspicions are well validated by research studies."
Full article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201505/early-academic-training-produces-long-term-harm
"How Early Academic Training Retards Intellectual Development
Academic skills are best learned when a person wants them and needs them.
In my last post I summarized research indicating that early academic training produces long-term harm. Now, in this post, I will delve a bit into the question of how that might happen.
It's useful here to distinguish between academic skills and intellectual skills—a distinction nicely made in a recent article by Lillian Katz published by the child advocacy organization Defending the Early Years."
Full article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201506/how-early-academic-training-retards-intellectual-development
Something I think is worth adding to discussions like this is how "success" is evaluated. What kinds of assessments are they using? What is their external validity? In other words, are what the curriculum and assessments offering of any use outside the particular text book unit or subject classroom in which they're studying?
I propose, rather than getting entangled in a fundamental question, and implicitly telling the OP that homework is useless, find out first what the OP wants and then tell him how to handle that in Moodle, if at all possible.
Let him answer my question first: 'When you talk of "on-line learning" you mean the on-line, i.e. at a networked computer device, component of a course which is also taught face-to-face. The question is whether it is a repetition of what has been done in the classroom or is it an extension, i.e. exercises which were not conducted in the classroom but an integral part of the course augmenting it.' Then we know.