Learn Moodle Basics Week 4: Ticking all the boxes

As the Learn Moodle 3.4 Basics MOOC draws to a close (last official day Sunday 4 Feb), participants are busy ensuring all the activity completion boxes are ticked so they can download either their completion certificate (35 activities including a peer assessment workshop) or achievement certificate (34 activities, without the workshop for those who didn’t organise themselves to meet the deadline) It’s often the manual completion boxes that get left until last and cause confusion – participants just need a quick reminder that they must tick them themselves, and they’re away! This final week  also sees a flurry of participants starting new discussions multiple times in the Introduce yourself! forum to get the completion tick, sadly because they simply didn’t read the instructions.

Introduce Yourself

On the other hand, it is thanks to the eagle eyes of our MOOC participants that bugs with Moodle features get noticed and fixed. Each run of our MOOC results in improvements to Moodle core and plugins for the community as a whole – an excellent benefit.

On another positive note, what has been particularly heartwarming this time has been the number of responses to participants posting their practice courses for review in the Show us your Moodle course! forum. With such a huge group of participants, it’ s difficult for everyone to get feedback, but it is encouraging that there are fewer courses with no replies. This is in part thanks to our regular MOOCers and thanks to experienced Moodlers who enrol in a lot of courses to offer suggestions. Ideally, everyone who shares their practice course should get at least one reply with feedback but we’re not there yet. I personally vow to engage more in this review activity next time.

Did I say next time? Yes! The next MOOC - Learn Moodle 3.5 Basics – will start on June 18 for four weeks until July 15. Sign up will be announced on our social media channels (and I will post on here too) nearer the time. Why not just enable sign-up now? Believe it or not, MOOC work doesn’t end when the MOOC ends :) Behind the scenes, facilitators and administrators have to close down the current course and prepare for the new course. To give you an idea, here are a few of the jobs which must be done:

  • make a copy of the current MOOC and restore it so there is a framework to adapt for next time
  • change permissions on the current MOOC so participants can no longer engage in it (for example post in forums) in the absence of facilitators and official monitoring
  • change dates and wording in line with the next run
  • delete all the current practice courses after February 18th
  • go methodically through the Feedback responses and Tell us what you’ve learned! forum, noting down suggestions for improvements
  • discuss in a debriefing session which improvements to make
  • get various statistics to share in a later report (keep an eye on Moodle.org if you want to know our completion figures :) )
  • …and more! (Not to mention the ongoing work of keeping the site version up to date and updating the materials)

We have a checklist for such tasks and tick them off as we go along. In fact, ticking boxes was mentioned in one of the forum threads this week, and we’re very happy to read it:

Ticks Boxes

Learn Moodle MOOC week 3: We’re all in it together

Week 3 of our Learn Moodle 3.4 Basics MOOC is all about learning together: practice courses are being shared and the My home country workshop submissions are being automatically allocated to participants to peer assess and experience the process of one of Moodle’s most powerful activities.

While it’s possible to ‘teach yourself Moodle’ and work efficiently in isolation, reading and watching the materials, trying them in your practice course, it’s not only more satisfying but more fun if you can engage with other learners as you do so. We keep coming back to the referents of social constructionism laid out by Chief Moodler Martin Dougiamas in the documentation on Pedagogy, and in particular this one:

All of us are potential teachers as well as learners – in a true collaborative environment we are both.

Thus it’s great to see participants commenting on each other’s courses in the Show us your Moodle course! forum:

Show us Course feedback

Although the MOOC is in English, participants are welcome to post in their own language and are well supported by others. As a result of this, practice courses may also be shared in languages other than English:

Russian Share course

There is a YouTube playlist of videos for the course. Our Greek Moodle partner WIDE Services already translated the subtitles into English, and we thank two course participants Alejandro Vásquez and Mónica Sánchez for their Spanish translations :) Anyone who wishes to is welcome to translate Moodle HQ YouTube videos into other languages.

The other main event of  Week 3 is the ongoing peer assessment workshop. This really is a collaborative effort, and it is this aspect which unfortuntately causes some confusion amongst participants. It is mentioned right at the start of the course in the Important dates page and the Week  1 tutorial that this activity is the only deadline out of 35 activities. Participants must submit a short piece of work ( 3 sentences, an image and a link to a website, all about your home region) before the 24th January. It is also emphasised that the quality of this work does not matter – the object of the exercise is to experience peer assessment with the workshop. The deadline of 24 January is so that Moodle can then hand out to participants five pieces of work from other participants and they then have until January 31st to assess them according to simple criteria. In our final live BBB session on 26 January we again welcomed Helen Foster who screenshared as her test student demonstrating how to do the peer assessments:

BBB Session 26 Janfter the 31st January, we check all is good and close the workshop. Only when the workshop is officially closed do participants receive their completion mark and only when they receive their completion mark will they be able to download their certificate of completion. So you see, we only have a couple of days before the weekend and the course ends for this to take place. For this reason and because of the large number of participants we don’t allow late submissions. (It’s also good for educators to experience deadlines to better empathise with their students.)

At the moment, it’s not possible for participants to submit and peer assess at their own pace. When it is, it will be a great boost to our MOOC!  In the meantime, knowing participants are busy, we offer them as long as possible to submit their three sentences, image and link (between 15 and 8 days depending on the path you take) and then a full week afterwards to peer assess in the hope as many as possible will find the time. And no need to worry if you were too busy during those three weeks (or reading the instructions slipped your mind) because we have a new  certificate of achievement for everyone who completes 34 out of the 35 required activities. I’m  looking forward to the end of next week to see how many participants complete the course (all 35 required activities, including the workshop) and how many do well enough to obtain the certificate of achievement too. Watch this space :)

And the last word, again, goes to one of our reflective bloggers:Reflective blog


Learn Moodle MOOC week 2: Endless learning!

Indeed :) Learning knows no bounds, has no limits in this latest Learn Moodle 3.4 Basics MOOC, according to some participants:

Endless learning

While this is a lovely thing to hear, other participants in week 1 felt a bit overwhelmed, thinking they needed to watch, read and do absolutely everything. In week 2 they’re feeling more confident, helped by the wise advice of a fellow learner:

Wise advice

We often get people doing the MOOC several times, and one of our regulars explains why here:

Taking the course again

Week 2 of the MOOC includes a peer-assessment activity, Moodle’s powerful workshop. This has always caused confusion with some people not understanding why their completion tick is not immediately visible. Each time we try to improve the explanations a little to make it clearer, and I’m pleased to note that we haven’t had as many queries about the process as previously. (We’ve still had some though!) In our live video session on Friday, Community Manager Helen Foster shared her screen  as a student submitting the workshop, while Research Analyst Elizabeth Dalton fielded questions in the chat box.

BBB live session

Encouraged to reflect on their learning, participant blogs continue to highlight useful aspects of Moodle – such as comments about the Atto editor:

Reflections in blogs


As for facilitators – a couple of things we’ve learned this week:

  • there can be confusion over how courses with dates appear in the course overview. Some participants panic if they think their course has disappeared, when in fact they changed its start/end date and it’s simply in another tab
  • there is also confusion over the location of the live sessions and their recordings. We assumed that everyone would know to click the link Live session to join in and would know to click the same link to access the recording, but it seems we didn’t clarify this, so we’ll make sure to do so next time :)

Week 3 is probably my favourite week, not only because participants are exploring each other’s courses but also because there are optional mobile activities. We feel designing for mobile is very important so we have included this for those who’d like to learn more.

Not signed up for Learn Moodle 3.4 Basics  yet? There’s still time! But if you want a certificate of completion, you only have two days to submit to the only activity with a deadine.. so be quick :)

Learn Moodle MOOC Week 1: Step by step or All at once?

Sunday marks the end of the first week of our Learn Moodle 3.4 Basics MOOC, so here’s my short personal view so far:

Moodle HQ runs the MOOC twice a year to give anyone and everyone the chance to explore the latest version of Moodle from a basic teaching point of view. People familiar with the MOOC might notice we’ve added ‘Basics’ to its name – that’s to differentiate it from its related Learn Moodle curriculum, currently under development. We’d like to think people who complete this Basics MOOC will go on to enhance their Moodle teaching skills with the more advanced Learn Moodle offerings.

Also new this time is the choice to go through the four week ‘step by step’  – ie, have the weekly activities revealed to you a week at a time so you are not overwhelmed, or to see the MOOC ‘All at once’ so you can move on quickly at your own pace (although you still have to wait for your certificate :) )  Of the 2123 who have so far engaged with the course, 821 have chosen the Step by Step path and 1321 have chosen the All at once path. We seem to have some very fast workers in that All at once group, as I noticed that within two days of the course starting, some of them were posting their final reflections on what they had learned over the four weeks and wondering why they could not have their certificate yet :)

The MOOC is aimed at complete beginners and according to our poll, 67% of those  in the course have never used or hardly ever used Moodle, while a further 13% have only used it for file sharing. 20% consider themselves ‘advanced’ Moodlers, and in those will no doubt be some of our regular helpers, to whom we’re very grateful. The new Moodlers are invariably amazed and delighted by the wide variety of co-participants from all around the world. Even better is when a whole group of Moodlers from an institution join and learn together -so far I have spotted three – from the Netherlands, Russia and South Africa, but if your organisation has also joined as a group, let us know :)

Embury FE S Africa

During this first week, participants were busy setting up their courses and exploring different types of layout. We’re not expecting participants to allow others into their courses until Week 3 when they’ve added more interactive and assessable content, but looking at the list of course titles already being developed, Week 3 should be an interesting feedback opportunity :)

Course List

*Please note:* If you’re an experienced Moodler or regular MOOC participant, it would be really helpful if you could enrol in some courses when they are shared in the Week 3 section and provide constructive feedback. Thanks!

To gauge participant satisfaction during the MOOC, we ask for feedback at the end of Week 1. This is looking promising although we obviously need to clarify some areas, judging by a few comments. Some participants are asking for downloadable videos and subtitles, where these are already available. Others wish to do the quizzes more than once, when they can. Others ask for a weekly task list, where there are weekly task lists in the Weekly tutorial and tasks pages. This is all good feedback, as it shows us we need to explain things in more than just one or two places in the course. The poll for live session time was a good example: we offered three time choices so we can run the weekly live session at a time convenient to as many people as possible. However some people believed we were offering all three sessions, and mistakenly tried to join at the time they chose. (For anyone in the MOOC, the most popular vote was again Fridays at 16:00 UTC) Understanding timezones is an issue for some participants, but we do mention on several occasions and in several places how to change your timezone in your profile so that events display correctly for you. I’m not sure where else we can highlight this, but we’ll definitely try :)

The weekly live video-conferencing session uses Big Blue Button. As well as being able to try BigBlueButton on MoodleCloud sites, MOOC participants have it in their own practice courses.  Our first live session usually involves a lot of questions about this software so we invited along Fred Dixon, BBB CEO to give us an overview of the product and an update on its latest features. There were a lot of WOW’s going on when he demonstrated the multi-user whiteboard and polling!

BBB live session

Finally, an important part of learning is reflection, and we encourage this in the MOOC by requesting that participants record their thoughts, in whatever way they feel comfortable, during the four weeks. One keen Moodler from France already blogged about his first week, and the individual blogs on the site also make for interesting reading. Some very sound advice here to take us into Week 2:

Blog from participant

See you in seven days! Keep on moodling!

Ten years of Moodleblog

An important date slipped me by during the busy Christmas/New Year period: it was the end of December 2007 that I started this Moodle blog. Ten years…

A lot of things have happened over that decade, to me and to Moodle. When I first began, I was a full time languages and geography teacher, my children were still at school and Moodle was on version 1.8. In the intervening years, I moved from teacher to Moodle Community Educator, my children fled the nest, one to teach in London (with Moodle for School) and one to teach in St Petersburg (prompting me to learn Russian) and Moodle, of course, went from Moodle 2 to Moodle 3.4.

old Moodleblog

Moodleblog 2008 courtesy of Wayback Machine

The blog posts from the last ten years are all there, but unfortunately because of changing hosts, domain name and my own inefficiency, many of the images are gone. The first blog entry was a review of a Moodle book – little did I know at the time I’d be lucky enough to write Moodle books myself and then help with Moodle documentation.

Ten years ago I also began making video tutorials, partly for my school colleagues, partly to help others, but mostly, I suspect, for my own pleasure. I didn’t imagine then I would be luck enough to be  involved in the making of Moodle Release videos and the Learn Moodle Basics MOOC videos. (Quick plug: Learn Moodle Basics 3.4 MOOC starts next week and as usual there will be a playlist of video tutorials for the latest version.)

Ten years ago I rarely left my classroom (unless you count school trips to Blackpool Zoo!) And my French and German didn’t extend beyond the requirements of the UK GCSE curriculum (age 16)) Moodle has given me the opportunity, via Moodle Moots, to visit Australia, USA, Japan as well as revisting a number of European cities and networking with Moodle users globally. I’ve been able to use my French and German to a better level than I could in school; I got a chance to practise my minimal Spanish and even learned a bit of Japanese before heading to Tokyo. After some great times in Dublin, Edinburgh and London, the next  UK Moodle moot  will be on 26 March in Glasgow  (which I have never visited!) and I hope to see you there! And if you happen to be a Russian speaker at any Moodle moot – be warned – I will probably pounce on you to practise my current homework!

Ten years having passed, means I am now only two years away from claiming my teacher’s pension.  I could, in fact, retire. I mentioned this to my son the other week, saying it would be great to be retired because I could use my time flexibly, still  be involved in the Moodle community, helping in forums. contributing documentation, making videos, while at the same time  being able to travel the world and have time to study. He looked at me quizzically for a moment and said “But mum – you get to do all those things already! What’s the point of retiring?”

So.. grateful thanks @moodle. Here’s to the next ten years!