Moodle Blog

Online Exercise Books in Moodle

Friday, 16. January 2009 von admin

All our ICT classes are run entirely on Moodle. While the older students upload evidence of their work for their exams, it was felt that the younger students – in Years 7 and 8 – who do not take external exams, needed some form of online exercise journal – or exercise book –  to show their progress from lesson to lesson. I’ve been pondering this for a while. Whatever we used had to meet certain criteria:

  • it has to be very simple for young pupils to be able to use
  • it has to allow them to upload and display screenshots of their work in an intuitive way
  • it has to be quick for the teacher to zip throught the class of students checking their progress.
  • it had to allow for teacher feedback

We rejected:

  1. Moodle assignments. These are used for specific, end of unit pieces of work or homework that are graded. This online exercise book is just for pupils to keep a record and teachers to check how they’re doing. We didn’t need the formality of an assignment, added to which, with one or two lessons of ICT a week, they’d have needed a lot of assignments.
  2. Moodle’s wiki. This would appear to be the most obvious choice as a wiki allows for each student to have their own personal space to communicate with their teacher. Indeed, we’ve used wikis before as private revision booklets where older students create pages for each exam subject and add their own revision notes. However, the big minus was that – short of uploading to and linking from, say Flickr, it is not possible for students to display images. And the Flickr option would have been one step too far and would have taken us out of the safety of Moodle
  3. Moodle database or Moodle glossary. While these would tick some of the necessary boxes,such as allowing students to attach screenshots of, say, their latest Powerpoint (aargh), it was felt they would not be particularly user friendly to younger and less able pupils.

We have trialled:

  1. Moodle’s blogs. We haven’t disregarded these at all -we are using them with Y7 but with some reservations. The pluses are that they are very simple for pupils to use. They can attach screenshots as jpgs that go straight into the blog and it is easy for the teacher to add a comment and then for the pupils  to continue the blog next lesson with a new post..etc etc… However… a Moodle blog is not attached to a course; it is attached to a user and this means that if they use their blog for ICT they cannot use it for any other subject. At the moment this is not an issue but if other subjects such as English wish to make use of the blog facility, that could cause problems. (This is where Mahara will come in useful!) Another consideration was that students could see each others’  blogs and perhaps copy. I changed that in the permissions, although it was never a real problem since it would have been no different from their sneaking a look at each others’ exercise books anyway. The major minus was that, in theory, the children have the ability to edit their teacher’s comments – they haven’t bless them,  but they could, and some teachers felt uneasy about this. I couldn’t find a way to disable this and still enable them to continue posting so… we are continuing with blogs at the moment but I have found another way.

We are going to try individual student forums. Advantages: ticks all the boxes – very easy for pupils to use as they use Moodle forums all the time; easy to attach screenshots; teachers can post feedback but students cannot edit it; they can only see their own forum and not view anyone else’s so no copying. We could even , if we wished, set it up to be graded. Disadvantages: It is hellishly time consuming to set up as you have to make an individual group for every single pupil -and of course, the trial class had to have 33 year 8s in it! The same message has to be posted to each of the students as they each have their own forum – so that’s 33 messages in 33 groups. Another consideration was that previously all teachers in that year group were able to view all classes for moderation purposes/consistency of marking. This was not going to work anymore as it would be unfair for teachers of one set only to have to scroll through 33 students who aren’t their own each time they marked work. So , with some compromises made and some judicious use of  separate groups and groupings, it is looking promising. The other students outside the trial are not even aware the student forums exist as they are only visible to the trial class and their teacher. The other teachers do not see the 33 new ‘groups’ in their drop down set list, but the head of department can still keep an eye on all classes. So far so good…now to see how it works!

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