Moodling in Hollywood: moodlefairy goes to LA #mootus16

I’ve just come back from a week in Hollywood (OK, Universal City, but Hollywood sounds good!) at the very successful, very enjoyable – and VERY SUNNY! – US Moodle moot. I’m still in jet lag mode, sleeping, waking and eating at strange hours, so I’ll try to make this report as coherent and simply phrased as I can. It was a three day event; Tuesday, the pre-conference training sessions, and Wednesday and Thursday the conference itself. I took part in three presentations, one on our Learn Moodle MOOC, one on screencasting in Moodle and one with HQ’s Damyon Wiese on the new assignment changes in Moodle 3.1. The venue was the Hilton Universal City, great rooms, great food and best of all for conference attendees, having everything in the same place.

The novelty of breakfast in the sunshine

I especially liked the fact that my room, on the 20th floor, had not only a fine view of the Hollywood Hills but also, if I dared look down, a fine view of the swimming pool, allowing me to see how busy it was and whether it was worth going down there :) Before and after the conference, I did indeed go there, making the most of the 37 degrees C weather, which, to someone used to rainy summers of 17 degrees was in no way a burden…

I also took the opportunity to do the “Walk of Fame” and the Universal Studios tour.

Just to prove I’ve been!

Since my brain is still too chronologically challenged to think in sequence, here, in no particular order, is a list of things I really enjoyed and appreciated at #mootus16.

  • The full day workshop on  MOOC design – we were a small group so we all sat around a table discussing and sharing ideas. I felt it worked all the better for that. Thanks to Kathie Robeson from Elearning Experts for co-facilitating.
  • Meeting more Moodle partners. It’s always good to meet the people who pay your wages :) Several Moodle partners were sponsors, as you can see from the US Moot Sponsors list. As well as meeting Kathie, I was also pleased to meet other Partners for the first time, such as the refreshingly original Shalimar from Moonami, Ben from Lambda Solutions, Jai from Key to School/Vidyamantra and Navin from Ballistic Learning
  • Keynotes by invited speakers (1) On Wednesday we were treated to a fascinating exposé of the Neuroscience of Learning Design from Britt Andreatta. One aspect which particularly caught my attention was the knowledge that meditation/mindfulness is not only good for your mental health, which I was aware of, but can also help with learning and retention. I’ve been trying to “improve myself” this year, physically and mentally, with good intentions of  taking ten minutes each day for quiet reflection and weekly visits to our local Buddhist Centre and my good friend Pagpa. Sometimes it’s hard to find those ten minutes -yes- really! So understanding that there is yet another reason to do it – will motivate me all the more.
  • Keynotes by invited speakers (2) On Thursday we heard – and saw – the inspirational Aaron Page and Marlene Zentz demonstrate best practices in Accessible design. I say “saw” because Aaron demonstrated on his computer what it is actually like for people, like himself, who cannot  see with their eyes. And the two explained how we who are (love the term! “visually dependent“) can ensure our online courses are inclusive and accessible to all.
Marlene and Aaron keynote

Marlene and Aaron – photo by Martin Dougiamas

  • Speaking different languages! Kudos to Carles Augiló from Wiris Math, who is present at every moot I attend, whatever the country, and seems perfectly happy to pass on his passion about Moodle and Mathematics in several different languages. And thanks to the University of Montréal’s Serge Gauthier and Jean Philippe Gaudreau who worked with HQ on Competency based Education and who gave me the opportunity to attune my ear to Canadian French !
JP and Mary

J-P + Mary – le selfie anglo-canadien!

  • Having my historical phobia of numeracy assuaged by the calmly reassuring Statistics and Analytics expert Elizabeth Dalton. I’m sure if she and the equally mathematically competent HQ Community manager Helen Foster,  had been my school teachers, I wouldn’t have been so fearful of what, after all, is just another language.
  • Meeting old Moodle friends and making new Moodle friends. I don’t want to list names because I don’t want to offend  I don’t mention, but if we chatted, whether we had met before or met for the first time, I was really happy to connect with you and hope we meet again online or at another moot soon.

Many thanks to Gavin Henrick and Martin Dougiamas for making this possible and allowing me to attend. And now, if you don’t mind, it is six thirty pm, which I think means it is almost time for lunch…..

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