Of course they do, and in increasing numbers, both in the Secondary and Primary sector. I pose the question following an interesting exchange on twitter recently, prompted by Drew Buddie (@digitalmaverick) He and I are presenting together at this year’s UK Moodle Moot and he was bemoaning the fact that only five people have signed up to our joint session, two of those people being ourselves… Now either ( a) we are really Dull speakers or( b) the other strands are Sooo much more exciting or (c) our content isn’t felt to be as relevant to those attending. Which brings me back to the Schools question – although an increasing number of schools use Moodle, a decreasing number, it seems, are sending delegates to the Moodle Moot:
Drew has been Moodling at Moots for far longer than I so he probably knows the scene better, but some background from my personal point of view: I first attended and spoke at the 2009 UK Moodle Moot. My presentation, entitled “Making Moodle Fun at Key Stage 3″ couldn’t have made it clearer that it was school-based. Never having presented anywhere before I was surprised and heartened to see the room fill up quickly such that late comers had to stand at the back. Last year, in London, I shared an hour session with Paul Garratt and Kristian Still. We all spoke on school-related subjects, Primary and Secondary, and we were well received (I hope) and yet - the room was barely half full. This year, as I write, only three people believe experiences of Moodle in schools will be of use/interest to them. Why the rapid decline?
Is this down to the timing of the UK Moot? Easter Holidays, when exhausted teachers just want a break? Is it because although teachers are committed in term time, they are are not that committed that they are prepared to give up their holidays to attend a conference? Or is it the price? I was informed this year that my school could only afford to pay for one person to attend (lucky me). Is it the organising of the sessions? In 2009, I had a whole hour session to myself and there were fewer speakers in all – maybe more people came to mine because there were simply fewer presentations to attend! In the move from a Sean-Keogh-organised to a ULCC- organised Moot, did those teachers who came last year feel there was a distinct emphasis on Further/Higher Ed/Commercial Moodle use and so felt a bit “left out”? Dan Humpherson (@MoodleDan)subsequently organised a popular and successful Teach Meet Moodle on a Saturday – but why did he feel the need to? Is there really no slot for schools at the UK Moodle Moot?
Incidentally, there is an irony here for me in that, although I am in a joint session with Drew who is talking about Using Moodle for Controlled GCSE Assessment, my presentation isn’t actually about schools. Having presented case studies the two previous years and realising numbers were declining I decided to take off my teacher hat and put on my Our Learning and Synergy Learning hats on and talk about training non-technical adults to use Moodle. I have trained users from Primary up to University level, from small accountancy firms up to major NGOs and while some newbies enter the training room keen and competent, others come in a bit nervous – and it is those for whom I aim to show that it is “Not as Scary as You Think“. It’s almost tempting for Drew and me to cancel ours and sign up elsewhere -except that for me, I would have put my name down for Drew’s session anyway, as it is something extremely pertinent to my school at the moment.
I am speaking at the Australian Moodle Moot in Sydney this July. I will be interested to see where schools and regular teachers fit in to it. I know #mootau11 is a much larger, much longer affair, and I have no idea of upside-down school budgets or holidays but as Australia is the Spiritual Home of Moodle, it would be nice to see one of the biggest Moodle-using sectors well represented. I will let you know