by Rusty Meyners.
OK, so you’ve created your Moodle course and maybe you’ve posted some information or even videos on it. Oh, you haven’t posted any videos? You haven’t even used it to list assignments or other class information for parents to access, much less as a paperless way to pass out forms, references and other resources?
How are we going to take the next step with Moodle and leverage it for the interactive WEB 2.0 potential we’ve heard all the hype about? We can create, take and grade quizzes or tests in Moodle, but at first glance, that’s intimidating enough for the new Moodle Educator, so just imagine how the students are going to react to that. Digital documents can be not only created in Moodle but turned in as well using the assignment submission feature – once we get the hang of it; but frankly the "fun and engaging" factor we’re looking for in a new learning tool is a little lean when it comes to basic word processing.
Collaboration on documents or other projects is a little more to the point, after all, a simple definition of WEB 2.0 is "the read-write web" or maybe another way to put it, is "the give & take web". I never tire of telling the story about the first time I was involved in introducing Moodle and Google Docs to an 11th grade AP English class in the spring of 2008, where the first reaction was "this is lame" (the word spoken wasn’t actually "lame") but by the end of the class one was heard to exclaim "Wow, Google Docs is like MySpace for English!".
The challenge before me at the moment is how to start getting a 4th grade teacher and class involved with the "give-take" aspects of Moodle. KISS principles seem appropriate, so let’s start with something very simple and next to it put something fun, then push them together and stack something simple & fun on top and call it "constructivist".
So here’s the plan. First, we’re gonna take the 4th graders into the lab and have them register their own account in Moodle and with the time left have them try out the Chat feature. Second, the teacher will create a Forum for a recently finished class assignment (in this case, a major biography project that each student produced and presented); then, either in another lab period or in individual computer sessions, each student will "Add a new topic" to the forum with a paragraph summarizing their biography presentation. Each student will then choose or be assigned to read a few (say 5?) of the other topics to which they will each post a discussion question or comment for the original student to reply to or acknowledge. Or something like that.
Online forums obviously should never replace classroom discussions but the benefits could be substantial. They can be quieter, more organized, and don’t have to take place in real time on a strict schedule, besides which they can be graded more constructively. Students can be promised an A for participation but the teacher will be able to critique and suggest additional tries on underwhelming efforts.
I’m a tech and not a teacher but Dr. Holcombe stresses that we are all Educators; and since I can hardly wait to see how this goes, he must be right! BTW, activities like this in a forum such as Moodle leave a digital record that can be shared and evaluated as appropriate, so I am also looking forward to having this example for other teachers to follow in the near future.