This blog post is long overdue. As per usual, the blog gets put on the back burner as work just seems to keep piling on up! And while I did have good intentions to blog during my one hour commute to work in the mornings, I usually just end up playing Free Cell on my iPad. Oh well. But today – no more excuses! I am taking some time out as I wait for the bus, to reflect on the wonderful experience I had two weekends ago at the #hkmoot12. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the HK MOODLE Moot was an event that took place at the Canadian International School of Hong Kong. It brought together educators, administrators, technology developers and support staff from primary, secondary and post-secondary schools to share their expertise and experience using Moodle as an educational tool. I had the privilege of being a workshop leader during this conference and discussed how I am using MOODLE to support my “Better Biology” program, which you can read more about here. I also attended some excellent workshops that demonstrated tools that I will now be able to incorporate into my program.
The first MOODLE feature that I am going to start using to support student centered learning is called the Workshop module. This tool is a great way to have students self and peer assess their work. The feature allows students to first practice grading a piece of work that has been modeled by the teacher. Using this function the students can see how close their assessment was to that of the model. They can then self assess and peer assess other student’s assignments. The neat thing about this program is that it produces a grade for their own assignment, but also for their marking abilities! Therefore the students do have to put serious effort into their evaluations of themselves and others. There are many modifications you can make in the settings such as how much weight each assessment is worth. Overall I was very impressed with it and it will fit in nicely with my unit. I plan to use it twice for this unit – students will self and peer asses a design lab and a data collection and processing lab. Thanks to Frederic Nevers @TeachWithMoodle for showing me this wonderful workshop tool!
The second MOODLE feature that I will start to use is scales for formative assessment. When you want to give students feedback or have students give each other feedback, a custom designed scale can allow you to comment on a student’s work and give them an idea of how they are progressing without having to use a number grade. I am also going to start using task specific rubrics (that I have already created for learning opportunities) to evaluate student assignments, discussion forums etc…right on the MOODLE. You can simply click in the appropriate box of the rubric and add comments on the side. Awesome! Saves paper and creates an archive of all the student’s assessments. I am going to start using this for lab reports and A layer activities as each one has a separate rubric. Thanks to @vinnystocker from Pukunui
Finally, the last thing I learned to do at the moot was “bling” my MOODLE or in other words, make it look pretty! I can now use the label feature to create visual links to orphaned activities and de-clutter my MOODLE page. This will make the site more engaging for the students and help avoid the “scroll of death.” Thanks to Julian Ridden the @moodleman for this one!
Overall the MOODLE Moot was a great experience for me. While I did learn about some useful modules and features, the best thing was that I got to network with other educators from around Hong Kong. In a previous post I mentioned that having a PLN on Twitter is great, but having real life contact is more valuable to me. I am excited to continue these discussions with the passionate and knowledgeable people I have had the pleasure to meet. We will be starting up the informal gatherings next week. Unfortunately I will be at the Learning 2.0 conference and won’t be able to attend the first one. But I am looking forward to next time.
I still have a long way to go in making the most of MOODLE in a meaningful way for my students. But the feedback I have received so far is very positive and I feel like I am on the right track in creating a student centered, blended learning environment.
For anyone who’s interested in viewing the presentation I gave, please email/tweet me and I can share it with you.
Disclaimer – this post was NOT sponsored by MOODLE. I just happen to really love it!