Moodle Blog

Moodlefairy goes to Munich #Mootde13

Julian, David and Mary

Julian, David and Mary

Fresh from the Dublin Moodle Moot, it was a delight to hop on the plane and go to Munich for the German equivalent. And what an experience! Not only linguistic and cultural, but also in terms of both meeting up with people  you know,  people you’ve  only known online for years and people you become friends with for the first time, but also being able to compare and contrast Moot styles.  I thought, rather than give a chronological account, I’d split the post into sections, so in reverse order from above, here goes:

Moot style

Thanks to Sigi for this and first photo

Thanks to Sigi for this and first photo

So many presentations! So many rooms! I really enjoyed the variety of choice, and particularly the number of secondary school teachers and presentations at school level. I have been to other Moots where teachers are in a minority, perhaps because of cost or holiday clashes, but here I was able to attend talks on using Moodle with students from primary all the way up to 6th form vocational college and more.  I listened and took part in sessions on creating quizzes in grammar lessons, using Moodle interactively in MFL teaching, making your Moodle course look better, using LTI in Moodle and  the latest features of Mahara. The German Moot is a joint Moodle-Mahara event and we had the “mother of Mahara” Kristina Hoeppner speaking live from New Zealand.Ralf Hilgenstock from the German Moodle partner ELeDia who was my contact during the months of preparation, would like to see more commercial presentations, non educational sector, delegates, and that’s a fair point: Moodle is for everyone, not just for schools and universities. Perhaps at next year’s Moot – Leipzig – the balance can be redressed. The venue was the Hochschule Munich, one of their universities, rather than a hotel in as in Dublin. It was good in that everything was within a few metres of everywhere else so it was easy to go from one seminar room to another, although I must confess the inside of the building itself reminded  me very much of the design of UK Academies, which in turn remind everyone of UK prisons. But we were happy to be inside 🙂

Meeting people

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I made it to the hotel around ten o’clock on Wednesday and got to my room only to find a tweet from David Mudrák whom I had walked right past in the hotel lobby! Considering we have communicated for several years, this was only our second meeting, the first last week in Dublin. We were soon joined by Moodleman Julian Ridden, over from Australia to run workshops at the Moot, visit family in Austria and practise his German, by “Mahara Grandma” (not my words!) Sigi Jakob Kühn and by German Giant, Stephan Rinke. Julian I had met before in the UK and Sydney but  for Sigi and Stephan  it was the first time, and isn’t it interesting how, in this day of social networking, you are able to meet people face to face and react with them as if you have been friends for years. Because, in fact, you have – you just never met in person! Stephan makes me smile because his perfect colloquial English is interspersed with Midlands vowel sounds and vocabulary, due to spending seven years in the Midlands not far from where I grew up. He had been secretly helping me with a few difficult phrases for my Moot presentation which I had been determined to do in German. The #mfltwitterati wouldn’t have expected anything less.

Mahara Granny Sigi

"Mahara Granny" Sigi

It was also a pleasure to meet Ulrike Montgomery and learn more about  another Moodle partner,Moodle Schule and to discover that, because of my French and English Moodle screencasts, other teutonic Moodlers came to say hello as well. In the very last five minutes of the very last session I came face to face with Gisela Hillenbrand who translates the Moodle documentation into German. On each page of the English documentation, for which I am partly responsible, is a link to the German pages, and it’s not only impressive to see the German translations appear so soon after an English page is created but also so gratifying to see my own words translated into German. I also caught a fleeting glimpse of Alex Büchner from Synergy Learning in between his swimming, running and other serious keep fit routines 🙂

German documentation writer Gisela

German documentation writer Gisela with Ralf Hilgenstock


On the plane

On the plane

Oh this was great! I did German up to A level (well “Special” level if you are old enough to remember that) I didn’t do it for my degree but it was part of my teacher training.  However, I had only been to Germany once in 35 years, so I knew this would be an experience. My first cultural shock came on the plane where we were given some kind of dumplings with mustard inside – feeling I should get into the spirit of things, I asked in German the German next to me what they were and he replied -they are some kind of dumplings with mustard inside; not typical daily German fare… Bavarian food was plentiful and particularly suited to the snowy environment of Munich (yes – SNOW!) We had potatoes and meat twice a day in various forms. I was caught out on the first day, but not in an unpleasant way, when I thought I was getting hot sauté potatoes only to discover it was cold Kartoffelsalat. And it came with what looked like spam but was in fact,  Fleischkäse, which is like -er – spam. On Thursday night we went to a “Wirtshaus” , a pub type place presumably in the Bavarian style where the waitresses wore long dresses and clog/boots and the waiters wore – yes -Lederhosen!  We had four filling courses, the dessert with  brandy snaps and chocolate being a particular favourite , not least because it included mint leaves that combined could have made a mojito, Moodle’s official drink. On my first evening I had my first linguistic  lesson, when I asked how could you possibly have “dunkles Weissbier” since Weiss is white and you can’t have dark white. Then I learned from my teacher Stephan it’s Weizenbier- Wheat beer, so it then makes perfect sense. I also discovered there’s no such thing as a small glass in Bavaria – but that was fine, too!

The first presentation I went to was about a “virtual Moodle primary school” – very useful for me as I am currently involved with primary schools and hope to maintain this connection. This gave me my second cultural shock after the food: they bang on the desks to show appreciation instead of clapping! But by the end of the two days, I was happily knocking on the desks like any other!


Vortrag: Moodle und Mahara in Lancashire und Cumbria

Linguistically, I was determined to upgrade my 40 year old rusty pre-internet German to meet the challenge of presenting in German. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I hadn’t ,even though I knew it would be far from perfect and although I might understand the questions afterwards, I might not be able to reply to them. The presentation itself went well, although I was astonished to see CHALK and a BLACKBOARD (well, actually a greenboard) in each seminar room of the Hochschule München. I was so out of practice, I dropped it and broke it into pieces after the one and only time I used it!

Blast from the Past!

Blast from the Past!

German is my third language, after English and French, and so I was pleased to be able to understand much if not most of what was going on. The first keynote speech on Wednesday was made easier by being able to refer to Powerpoint slides; the second one on Thursday was more challenging as it was talk only, no slides. Like the chalk – a blast from the past! Another enjoyable session was Martin @moodler being beamed live from Perth via Skype and Stephan translating as he did  Q&A session on Thursday afternoon. We were delighted to see his children come and wave hello at the end as well. Because I spent a lot of time with Anglophones such as Stephan, I didn’t speak much German in between presentations. I was grateful to be chaperoned on the journey from Munich to the airport, a tram, train journey and two hour wait. It turned out that my chaperone is the only man in the whole of the country who doesn’t speak fluent English (so he claimed!) and so in my final three hours of the Moot I talked more German than I did during the whole previous two days. And I managed it fairly ok … but that’s another blog post…

Thanks to the German organisers who invited me, and thankyou for my gift of a chocolate keyboard. ( I was going to take a photo of it but I had eaten half of it already so you only get half a photo..)

I was so happy to come and look forward to seeing you again next year. Oder besser gesagt: ich freue mich schon auf nächstes Jahr 🙂

Dieser Beitrag wurde am Saturday, 02. March 2013 um 20:52 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Moodle abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen. Du hast die Möglichkeit einen Kommentar zu hinterlassen, oder einen Trackback von deinem Weblog zu senden.

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