The best things about the community around Moodle is the willingness to share and the passion for education.
Despite torrential rain, thunder and lightining there was an excited crowd at Sunnybrae Farm convention centre on Friday as the innagural SA Moodle Meetup brought together educators and trainers from the schools, VET and corporate sectors to share their stories, tips and tricks.
Julian Ridden (aka moodleman) launched things with a keynote about Moodle 2. Julian is a former school Moodle admin who now works for Moodle service provider Pukunui and has been a passionate advocate of the platform for years.
Although the delays in release have frustrated many. Julian pointed out they’d rather have a stable, production ready product than meet a deadline.
However –even when Moodle 2 is released out into the wild, there will be a lot of prep work. And themes developed for Moodles 1.9s and below aren’t going to work.
Mark Dreschler from NetSpot pointed out later in the day that if people have made changes to core code, have a lot of plug-ins they rely upon, have not been rigorous about source code control repositories, don’t have access to a staging environment – there are going to be issues to overcome before courses can be rolled over to Moodle 2. His list is here: http://www.markdrechsler.com/?p=252
Long story short from all the sources on the day – Moodle 1.X versions are going to be serving the educational community for a little while yet.
Bright Cookie’s own Leo Gaggl is concerned at the number of sites that are not running a secure version of Moodle. If your version of Moodle is not 1.99 – you could be risking the security of your students on several fronts. For specifics, visit: http://secunia.com/advisories/40248/
To get a preview of coming attractions, there are a few ways you can have a play with Moodle 2.0 now.
The wonderful Tomaz Lasic has set up a Moodle site aimed at the schools sector to give us a sense of what’s possible with the new features in Moodle 2 by creating a Moodle for the fictitiuos Mount Orange School. You can kick the tyres as a student, parent, teacher or principal – visit http://school.demo.moodle.net.
If you want to sandbox around in Moodle 2.0 as a teacher – visit http://try.brightcookie.com
As far as current Moodle use goes, there is really great work going on.
A panel of experts covered off what you can do to extend Moodle by spending 10 minutes each on Google Apps (Leo Gaggl, Bright Cookie) – a suite of tools that replace MS Office and integrate well with both Gmail and Moodle, Mahara (Mark Dreschler, NetSpot) – an e-portfolio platfom that can also serve as an active reflection and PBL tool and SLOODLE (Georgina Nou) – a bridge between virtual worlds like Second Life or Open Sim and Moodle.
Leo got some giggles by introducing the crowd to the word Gahoodle (an implementation of Moodle, Mahara and Google Apps we do for educators).
Joayce Seitzinger (known as catspyjamas online – http://www.cats-pyjamas.net/) beamed in from New Zealand to share the story of the Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers.
The single page table cross references Moodle Tools with pedagogy.
Is the database tool good for communication and interaction? What tools align well with Bloom’s taxonomy? Joyce’s document – licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike license – will provide the answers for you and your staff. You can find it at http://www.cats-pyjamas.net/2010/05/moodle-tool-guide-for-teachers/
Graham Taylor at Thebarton Senior College uses Moodle for a diverse student population with a range of ages, locations, cultural backgrounds and languages. He has rolled out Moodle across a number of schools and has found that in order to successfully embed e-learning and blended learning there needs to be allocations made for ongoing mentoring as well as a central maestro to keep things moving.
To save time and provide effective training in the use of electronic tools for both students and educators, rather than create his own tutorials or spend time tracking them down himself – he pays for access to the site Atomic Learning which offers bite sized how tos on a number of popular software packages.
When it comes to using the tools in Moodle, he provides best practice guides for his staff and encourages both teachers and students to provide feedback so they can continue to improve. Graham provides template courses so that educators can start with something other than a blank page and encourages the sharing of courses and resources. His key messages are: remember everything is a work in progress, avoid working alone and collaborate with colleagues across your organisation, city, sector and country.
I think because Graham acts as the “maestro” – a strong central pin around which the community of practice rotates – there is that overall direction and guidance, yet practitioners are still empowered. Well done Graham!
Mark Hunwicks and Cheryl Taylor Cox of TAFE SA Adelaide North gave us an overview of the interdependent Moodles they’ve set up to reduce duplication of resources and to streamline training in the hospitality industry.
The problem they are solving is how to build a scaleable system without having to duplicate learning resources and to provide access to resources that formerly were locked away on LANs behind firewalls. Sharing resources still allows for customisation – all manual handling guidelines might be the same but where things are stored at a particular property could be very different. Workers who submit evidence for recognition of prior learning to gain certification used to send them off into the ethers — now trainers can communicate with them online about their materials and get richer insights. They are also using groups in Moodle to customise experiences, activities and forums can be restricted to certain groups or allow for networking between organisations.
I think Cheryl and Mark will have valuable insights to share when it comes to the implementation and effective use of Moodle Community Hubs in Moodle 2.
Rachel Randall from Credit Union SA and Richard Wallace from Wallace Web design shared their insights into the use of Moodle in the corporate world. Rachel helped management go from using a spreadsheet to track student learning and a wide range of resources of varying degrees of quality and currency to Moodle. She finds a coaching approach has worked best.
As she worked to embed e-learning, she was suprised to discover the number of managers that were two-fingered typists – so found a typing tutor program they could do in their own time to improve their skills. (Just goes to show that sometimes it isn’t just attitude that is the barrier to embedding e-learning, eh?)
All Credit Unions set aside 1 hour a week for training and Rachel ensures she makes icebreaker activities available to provide good starts and get people collaborating.
Richard Wallace made some great points about the usefulness of Moodle for compliance and/or annualy accreditation update training in the corporate world.
Tick and flick is endemic – limited resources in terms of time and money mean that many organisations just want to get training out of the way. Richard says he focuses on creating clean, crisp content that is fun, because many employees do training on their own time.
He showed an example of a humours interactive flash object on the appropriate use of fire extinguishers as an example. Quizzes are very popular as both a formative and summative assessment tool for organisations. Some set mandatory quiz grades of 100% and adjust the re-take times so that students have time to reflect on what they still need to learn.
He prefers the Moodle quiz to Articulate because you can correct spelling errors and make changes in Moodle without losing student data.
He made the point that using learning objects is a great way to get some pre-packaged, rich content into course but trainers need to ensure that these are wrapped in their own voice, that assessment is specific to the organisation and that instructional design principals, good communication and some synchronous events are also included.
The afternoon consisted of break out groups discussing “hot topics” followed by presentations by some of the 2010 SA Innovations projects led by Douglas Purcell.
Elisabeth Ellis from the ABC here in SA presented on their use of Moodle in delivering hands-on, skills based training on the use of desktop editing software to learners who have to learn in a fast-paced environment.
Cambridge International College shared their Moodle journey and the Department of Treasury and Finance demonstrated some nice visuals embedded in their Moodle course.
The wrap up came from Melanie Worrall, a project officer with the E-learning Benchmarking project – who offered up an interactive “top 10 tips” of which my favourites were “there’s always room to be even MORE awesome” and “step back from the 1,000 words and use a picture”.
Marlene Manto – the SA Australian Flexible Learning Framework E-learning Coordinator – closed the event with a reminder of the innovations showcase coming up in November – dates tbd.
There was a great buzz going on all day that had nothing to do with the pouring rain, thunder and lightning in proximity to the metal roof.
Taking away the most important message of the day — don’t go it alone! Embedding e-learning takes collaboration and support.
To keep the momentum going – consider joining a community of Moodle users.
- In South Australia, look out for the #mugsa tag or visit http://www.groups.edna.edu.au/course/view.php?id=2590 . They offer both face to face and online moodling.
- In Sydney, the Moodle User Group is SMUG – http://www.moodleusergroups.org/
- In Perth, it’s OzMug for you – http://www.ozmug.com.au/