Category Archives: Moodle

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!

 

Moodling in Cambridge with Catalyst

I had a great day on Friday, taking a break from Moodle 3.4 preparations to attend a Mahoodle moot organised by Cambridge Assessment International Education and sponsored by very own (international!) Moodle Partner, Catalyst IT Europe.

Joey Murison from Catalyst

“Mahoodle” is a blending of Moodle and its open-source sister, the e-portfolio system Mahara, a union beautifully demonstrated by Cambridge’s e-learning manager Andrew Field in his presentation.

Andrew Field

My favourite type of presentation in all moots are the “show and tell” ones, where people actually using the product give us a window into their world, and this mini-moot included several like this, not just Moodle but also Mahara, as we saw from the presentation by  Sam Taylor and Aurélie Soulier from Cranfield university.

Sam Taylor, Aurélie Soulier

As well as being Moodle partners, Catalyst maintain Mahara and were capably and competently represented by their Business  Development Manager Joey Murison who gave a very useful – and bravely live! – demonstration of LTI  integration. LTI allows you to link, not only courses to courses and activities to activities on different Moodle sites – and the same Moodle site – but also to link Moodle to Mahara, replacing the now ageing Mnet option. (Thanks Andrew Field for the pic.) Here is the Moodle LTI documentation.

Joey Murison LTI integration

User experience was also covered in the moot with established plugin developer Bas Brands speaking to us on the big screen from the Netherlands about his wishes for Moodle’s future. Simple, user-friendly, easy to access, were some of his key points, and tie in very well with where Moodle is heading. Indeed,  Moodle’s mobile app and desktop app already present a simplified but functional version of Moodle. (Thanks to Sam Taylor for the pic)

BBrands MahoodleCambridge

I talked a bit about the mobile app, about plans for 3.4 and Moodle’s projects for the future.(Thanks to Richard Oelmann for the pic.)

Moodle in the world

I also gave a plug for our Learn Moodle 3.4 Basics MOOC which starts on January 8th. Sign up now and join in the Moodling!

The day was packed with interesting presentations and I urge you to check out the hashtag #mahoodle17 for more information on those I haven’t mentioned here. Thanks to Andrew Field for inviting me and thanks to Moodle partner Catalyst for the lunch and @CambridgeInt  for the cakes! I hope this Cambridge Mahoodle moot becomes a regular event!

Moodle, MOOCs and Accessibility

As if co-facilitating our 3.3 run of our twice-yearly Learn Moodle MOOC weren’t enough, Moodle Community manager Helen Foster and myself have just completed a four week MOOC on accessible online content. We were among around a hundred participants in the test run of this Accessibility MOOC: Inclusive Online Course Design  which will be showcased by its facilitators, Aaron Page and Marlene Zentz, at the New Orleans Moodle Moot #mootus17. If you’re intrigued, here’s a link to  a short video summary by Aaron and Marlene.

Helen and I were very enthusiastic participants on several levels, not least because it gave us a chance to experience a MOOC from a student’s point of view, and this helped us better understand potential issues of participants in our own Learn Moodle MOOC. Additionally, from a course designer’s point of view, we were pleased to observe new ideas and ‘borrow’ them to improve our own course. (If you did the Accessibility MOOC and you join us for Learn Moodle 3.4, see if you can spot some cool improvements :) ) Both these aspects sit nicely with Moodle’s social constructionist philosophy. As Moodle founder and CEO Martin says in our Pedagogy documentation page:

“All of us are potential teachers as well as learners. In a true collaborative environment we are both”

Of course -the main point of the MOOC was to develop our skills in accessible, universal course design, and the course went over and above our expectations. And  knowing Marlene and Aaron, those expectations started high! We aim to improve Moodle’s user documentation on accessiblity based on what we have learned. The MOOC used Moodleroom’s Snap theme, specially designed for accessibility. I struggled a bit with it as it was very new to me and unlike my experiences with other themes. But that’s the fun of trying new things! The teaching elements were divided into different aspects of accessibility with a new focus each week. For example, in the first week we learned about working with text – headings, layout, hyperlinks. Other weeks included information about images, media and uploaded content. I’m not going to go into too much details because I recommend you sign up and do it yourselves…

I had a slight understanding before, but the MOOC really clarified and extended that understanding. I especially appreciated the videos by Aaron and Devin who showed us how they experience online course content using Jaws and Dragon, two assistive technology software programs. That was for me the most revelatory aspect of the MOOC  -in fact, I was so enthused that I sat @mrmoodlefairy down for half an hour and explained to him everything I’d learned so far, culminating in showing him a couple of these videos. (That’s number 2 in the documentation page on Pedagogy by the way!)

As we progressed through the four weeks learning the materials (presented in Moodle Books) we were able to ask (and respond to) any questions in the forums. This gave us an opportunity to experience the Advanced forums plugin, which  I haven’t tried before. Each topic had a little mini-quiz at the end, and I think they were made from the popular H5P plugin – again, a  new experience. As part of the course we had to develop a practice course with accessiblity in mind. We could then share the link to our course during a Moodle workshop activity.That was fun too, since Helen and I are normally at the teacher end of the Learn Moodle MOOC workshops.

At the end of the MOOC we had both done enough to receive a Certificate of Completion and I have to say, having downloaded it, I now totally understand the pride and excitement involved when you successfully click that link!  If you’re able to attend #mootus17 in New Orleans, do go and see Marlene and Aaron’s presentation. Perhaps in a few months time you too will be the proud owner of a certificate like the person in the picture below!

Mary with certificate

Changing perceptions: Learn Moodle week 4

As our sixth run of the Learn Moodle MOOC draws to a close, it’s been gratifying to note that, alongside the technicalities of learning how to teach with Moodle, we’ve seen our participants broaden their horizons both geographically and pedagogically. When I left my UK high school to work for Moodle, I recall the surprise on colleagues’ faces to discover that, actually, Moodle was bigger than just our school LMS –  or even a local education authority imposed LMS – or even a British LMS! One participant reminded me of this when she commented that not only had she learned good techniques for using Moodle with her class but that she was now aware that Moodle is  not just used in the US.

Having educators from all over the world connect with each other in the MOOC allows them to find common ground in their teaching, share ideas and strategies that give their subject a more global perspective. This effect of  ’changing perceptions’ is also apparent in participants who come to the course with some previous experience of Moodle. They are surprised to discover that it’s more than just a ‘document dump’, and they leave motivated to try out new features with their students:

Additionally, there have been a number of conversations in the weekly forums which have gone beyond the basics of setting up course activities. In a thread sparked  by the workshop peer assessment results, we’ve discussed the role of facilitators in ensuring  student feedback is effective and fair:

We’ve also been talking about time spent in a MOOC. Some organisations require a certain number of hours for accredited Professional Development. One participant pointed us to a recent study (HarvardZ and MITx: Four years of Open online courses) which states that A typical MOOC certificate earner spends 29 hours interacting with online courseware. The Custom certificate plugin allows teachers to specify number of minutes a learner must have been logged in the course in order to be eligible for this certificate, but how meaningful are such figures? Should our certificate include a time element?

These are the kinds of discussion we hope to continue over on Moodle.org where there is a dedicated Teaching with Moodle forum. And for those who want to continue learning Moodle, there are many courses, online and face to face at intermediate, advanced  and administrator level available from our Moodle Partners.

Final smile and sigh:

In an earlier post I talked about the smiles and sighs. Here are my personal two from this last week:

Smile:  the success of the Moodle mobile app. Each time we run the MOOC, more people access the course from the app. Each time we run the MOOC, more of the course is accessible from the app :) Participants can also do an optional quiz about mobile learning and an optional assignment from the app. If your organisation doesn’t use either the standard Moodle Mobile app or the branded Moodle Mobile app, you really should encourage them to!

Sigh: Questions asked in the forums are speedily answered by our experienced, regular attendees, and yet sadly the same questions are still repeated. Even a MOOC FAQ page doesn’t resolve the issue entirely. We need to give guidance in searching the forums to prevent this.

 What’s next?

Once the course is over, Helen and I  will  post some completion and participation statistics and as usual, we’ll be going through the participant feedback and adapting the course ready for next time. Missed this MOOC?  Or simply missed the workshop deadline? Get ready to sign up for our next run, starting on June 19th!