I have, after much delay, procrastination, denial and general missing of deadlines, begun work on the second edition of 'Using Moodle'. Helen Foster and I are teaming up to put together a huge update to the guide to understanding and using the best learning software available.
My work on the update will focus on applications and best practices for using Moodle. I'd like to include as many real world examples, case studies and innovative practices as possible. If you've had a really good experience with the forums, done something innovative with the database module, gotten your students blogging and collaborating on wikis, I'd like to hear about it. If you, or someone you know, has done something interesting with Moodle, I'd really like to hear about it and possibly include it in the book.
Once the book is complete and released, it will be available under a creative commons license, so you'll be able to share it with your friends and colleagues as well.
If you'd like to reply hear with a story, or email me directly (email@example.com), I'd love to hear from you.
Happy Moodling in the new year.
A lesson typically with the students being asked to solve a problem (usually it is scaffolded), identify and correct a misconception, decode the meaning of symbols from context or engage in some other sort of "concept formation" exercise. They usually spend 20-40 minutes collaborating in the background trying to solve the problem and forming a response. After they post they are able to see more completely how others in the class have solved the problem. I allow them to add to their initial response using the "reply" link at the bottom of their initial answer.
When that is complete, the students usually are given a series of questions to answer (using the quiz module) to see if their approach to solving the problem is robust enough.
This has provided a dramatic turnaround from the more typical math lesson of
- taking up homework
- providing definitions
- going through three worked examples
- doing questions or worksheets.
Now if someone could just make the Q and A forum type uneditable and have the individual questions backup and restore, I'd be golden (okay, I'm off to the bug tracker now). Good luck with the book Helen and Jason.
I'd love to include this, as its both a creative use of the forums and a great example of the Moodle philosophy. It would be useful to know what age you are using this with. If you could also provide a specific example of a problem, it would really make the story more compelling.
Thanks for taking the time to post and tell us about your work.
Here is a sample covering a lesson on sequence types.
Preknowledge: The students are familiar with linear, quadratic and exponential functions.
What they are expected to learn (what they don't know): The students aren't familiar with sequences (discrete functions), indexes, the use of subscripts (some are, some aren't) or Fibonacci sequences or any of the related symbols.
Match all five formulas to the tables of values shown below:
What do the symbols in the formulas represent?
What formulas similar to the ones above for the following tables of values.
Find formulas for the following "snapshot":
There are follow up questions in the quiz module which are composed of the traditional drill and practice types of algebra related problems.
Quickly from a system design perspective:
- The problem is presented at the beginning of the lesson, a time when research indicates students have the highest levels of attention.
- The problem requires students to identify similarities and differences between the sequence types just to get started, a practice Marzanno identifies as one of the most effective strategies to enhance learning.
- Students are required to investigate, produce and test hypothesis (in other words, do real math).
- Students decode definition and symbols from context (produce a concrete representation before the abstraction, rather than the other way around.
- Attempts to address Bloom's two sigma problem by having students share and explain knowledge as it is generated.
- Preserves "bandwidth" as identified by (is it Mayer?) by eliminating the clear communication model. Notice there is very little text, but when its done very significant amounts of information are developed.
- Rapid development (a question may take 10 minutes to produce, 40 minutes for students to complete and a class set 2 minutes to assess).
- One to one. Students can ask me questions relevant to their context, not the other way around.
- Feet don't hurt at the end of the day.
If you don't mind, I will definitely be including this as a example in the book.
I was realizing my reference to "bandwidth" is actually referencing Mayer's cognitive "channels", although I would have to say I have given up on bandwidth intensive techniques such as screen recording in favor of this technique, since they tend to flood the cognitive channels.
Do you have any specific suggestions to make the book useful to business trainers? Most of the audience will be traditional education, and that's most of my background as well. But if there are specific areas we could focus on to make it useful and relevant, I'd be happy to take them under advisement.
Jason, I was thinking that if a few ideas for application of say each module or management feature were give at the end of a book section/chapter it would be very helpful. Not sure if this is exactly "best practice" stuff like you are looking for, as say "here is what some folks are doing" kind of thing. Maybe an icon like the Moodle hat signifying an academic suggestion and a business hat indicating a workplace suggestion or something simple like that.
Right now for example wiki's are gaining traction in most corporate environments for collaborative team work on projects, training channel partners and for learning about changes and company culture issues. Lesson module has great promise for simulation type activities and scenarios and I'm seeing some creative use in that area. Grades can be a head scratcher for the learning officer or trainer as their concerns are often more related to compliance and/or certificates than say GPA. So, assessments may be defined differently say using custom Scales. It might be interesting to post something in the Business Uses course and ask for feedback from CLO's and trainers using Moodle in their workplace.
Here's one I worked on as a Q project (a small development project in a UK FE college - ask Helen as I know she once did one!). The materials will soon be distributed to UK FE colleges.
It took a design for learning approach: students were learning database projects step by step - each week, they would work in pairs, learn a little about a new skill through a moodle lesson, practise that skill by completing a little more of their project, upload the finished result to a forum and peer assess it. Because of the way it worked, the best file of the week could be used as the starting file for the next section of the project. There was also an on-line assignment as a reflective journal. The structure was based on constructivist learning design (http://www.prainbow.com/cld/cldp.html) which I've promoted in these forums in the past.
The project was actually evaluated as part of a JISC study, Designing for learning in VLE's - insider's perspective (Mira Vogel from Goldsmith's). There is a lot of good practice to be found in the report at
as it covers a range of users, most using moodle (it's anonymous but I can tell you which parts refer to my project).
I can supply more info if you are interested.
I'm working on another such (JISC funded) project, which is based on using forums and wikis, plus resources, quizzes and assignments, so that teams can record and plan their performance whilst using a car racing game - Racing Academy- to learn some A level physics. That one is very much a work in progress but may also be of interest. Other colleges in the project are also using moodle. Have a look at http://staff.bath.ac.uk/pssrj/RacingAcademy/index.htm
All the best
In your project, did you use the forum for peer assessment or the workshop?
- In the spirit of an 'exhibition', so it was available to all users
- Although the users were asked to comment how well it followed the specification of the task, they were not asked to give grades or scores, so the workshop wasn't necessary
- I was dealing with a small group; a workshop may be better for management of larger numbers - submissions could be assessed and the one with the best score from several users selected as the best of the week, rather than all users grading all submissions
- I never got my head round workshops anyway!
I have given Moodle training programs in about 7 countries. The handouts of a condensed 1 day workshop, you can find here: http://www.sofos.nl/LinkedDocuments/06pvdh_eunis-handouts.pdf. It is available under CC license, Attribute, Share-Alike.
I try to convey the insight that you have to design your course first, before running to the Moodle system. On page 7 there is a nice appetiser on "educational innovation". The participants may score their current position on 12 educational trends and their desired position in 2-3 years. This makes them conscious about the fact that they have certain preferences for educational change. While going to Moodle they should keep that in mind. The list of trends, I found in a Dutch book on educational innovation.
The exercise "Global Course Design" receives much appreciation (page 12-14). With little stickers in three colours the participants are designing their own courses. It is amazing how different the color patterns are they are producing. The results give a lot of stuff to discuss. The storyboard form becomes their central document during further Moodle course development. See picture.
I started as eLearning Leader at a UK school last September and I wanted to start to embed good collaborative practice in my own ICT lessons so that I can advise other teachers with real-life examples of collaborative learning techniques that actually work. Starting with a class of 11 year olds who were new to the school and new to online learning (largely), we embarked on a unit that included a whirlwind of Moodle activities; the plan is below.
Needless to say, things didn't always go according to plan. Often due to the failure of the hardware infrastructure (the school network was having major problems at the time) some activities were omitted. It was useful to note that although work saved on the school network shared areas was not always accessible, that on the Moodle VLE was always reliably available if we could connect to the Internet.
Briefly, the plot went like this:
There are no paper resources in this unit of work.
Pupils create a DTP'd leaflet to introduce themselves to a known audience (their peers). In addition to DTP tools, they learn about layout, corporate image, types of image, good practice in leaflet design and assessment.
In the first lesson they assess the suitability of elements of an existing leaflet via Choice activities. They then discuss the criteria that make a successful leaflet - initially as an oral exercise and then condensing their thoughts in a wiki that is updated as their experience and knowledge of successful design grows, and is later used to define the rubric for a Workshop activity - since they all have the opportunity to change the wiki they have ownership of the criteria for success. They produce a mindmap which is handed in as an assignment, and they record what they learned today in their blogs.
In Lesson 2 they learn about image types from activities presented on-screen. They are invited to use a forum to discuss the merits of vector images, and they design their own logo with the software of their choice. Short screenshot movies are given to them to assist in learning new software. The lesson's reflections are recorded in their blogs. They are set a short Quiz for homework to consolidate and assess learning (on reflection, a quick Hot Potato JMatch would have been more useful in this context), together with a requirement to bring a layout design for their leaflet to next lesson.
Lesson 3 begins with a review of the criteria for successful design, and amendments to the wiki as appropriate. They then refer to the layout designs they have done for homework and reproduce these on-screen in a DTP program. They use their blogs for reflection, saying what they changed from their designs and why they changed it.
Lesson 4 involves learning about inserting digital images. Prior knowledge is assessed using a Choice activity (Have you used/know how to use a scanner/camera/mobile to insert pictures) so I knew who to target for what skill. They have opportunities to learn to use a scanner, digital camera and/or mobile phones to acquire digital images and use them in their leaflets. They learn to manipulate images to get the best from them. Again, plenary time is spent reflecting in their blogs.
Lesson 5 gives opportunities to assess some finished leaflets (prepared by me) against the criteria they agreed earlier in the wiki (now transferred to the Workshop). Before embarking on this exercise, they consider and discuss useful ways of assessing and giving feedback to their peers. Having now seen the rubric theirs will be assessed against, they continue work on their own leaflet to improve it. In plenary and throughout the lesson, they are given opportunities to note in their blogs what they have amended and why they did so. The first part of the Workshop activity is now completed.
Lesson 6 allowed them to upload their finished leaflets and to self-assess before assessing 2 other leaflets from their peers. They reflect on their progress and the value of the unit on the class blog and they complete an online questionnaire to assess their own level in ICT (I used zohocreator for this but in future Moodle's native Questionnaire module would be more appropriate).
The advantages of having the same working environment available to them in home and at school allows them to become familiar with it very quickly. They are not "fazed" by the new learning medium, and despite never even having heard of a wiki before, the majority of them were able to make a contribution to the success criteria of their project.
Workshop activities are still my favourite pedagogical tool and the gains that the learners make from assessing other peoples' work (and their own) are huge. In future I'll give them more time to make amendments to their own work after their self-assessment which will show even more gains in improving their attainment. I would want to make more use of forums as a means of debating criteria for assessment before asking the learners to create a wiki.
In terms of learning objectives the unit was fairly linear, a feature I'm not really keen on, but it grew in complexity. Learners had opportunities to reflect at numerous points and at times their reflections were used to define their future learning. It was necessarily thus to give these learners chance to get a feel for the new learning environment - after all, these pupils were new to the school that year and were being bombarded by new experiences.
Many implicit learning skills (setting objectives and success criteria; evaluation through reflection, self-assessment and peer-assessment) were achieved that would have been much more difficult without using social and collaborative aspects of Moodle, although these were not perceived by pupils in their analysis of the unit.
Through using online instructional materials in a blended learning environment, learners were able to make progress at their own pace, clarifying points in class and (often) continuing work at home. Those with sufficient motivation to review materials covered in class made more progress as a result.
Pupils would have appreciated more time to make improvements to their work. Mea maxima culpa, I was rushing them so that we could get onto the next unit.
Once the book is complete and released, it will be available under a creative commons license, so you'll be able to share it with your friends and colleagues as well.
Hello Jason and Helen,
I see a link on the front page of moodle.org to the 2nd edition of the book, but it takes me to a page to pre-order it for $39.99. Is this the "creative commons version" or is there another link somewhere?
You'll need to wait for the to be finished and published first.
Last time O'Reilly asked me to wait a month or two after the book was published to make the electronic version available. So it may be December before you can download it.
But the printed copy will still be under the creative commons license. So once you have a copy, you can do whatever you want with the print version.