Our school (NBCS) is going through a major reform of not only teaching styles and pedagogy but learning space, both physical and virtual. If you would like to see some of the blog posts by my principal about this visit http://imaginelearning.tumblr.com/.
My main roll in this transformation is guiding and reforming our online class spaces which run on a Moodle infrastructure. (NBCS, Pete, HSCOnline) In the last two years we have evolved our use of Moodle from long list of links and resources (eventuating in something most teachers affectionately referred to as “the scroll of death”) into far more engaging and interactive authentic tasks online.
“The Scroll of Death”
Creating these long lists of resources meant that teachers no longer needed to hand out as many notes, but it really didn’t engage students online and quite often lead to confusion because there was so much written content to navigate through. Often a single logical task would be separated into a webpage which give information, a file which needed to be downloaded and then possible (if lucky) an activity which the students could complete. This meant that for every one task online students would have several links online to click through.
What We Changed
Having looked at this dilemma we decided firstly to start using the Moodle resource “Compose a Webpage” far more extensively. Teachers were trained how to rather embed their information/instructions and (importantly) links, images & documents INTO the webpage. This meant that a single webpage click could replace several links on the front of the course page. See the below video on the basics of this.
Once we had more engaging and rich web pages on our courses, we started to copy these pages INTO the description part of the Moodle activities. This meant that in one link we could, for example, get students to view a video, visit a couple of websites and then download a worksheet which they completed and finally could upload. All this within ONE link!
Watch the basic below video on how to copy a webpage resource INTO an activity in Moodle.
Where We Are Heading
What we found was that once we had these web pages and web activities in our Moodle courses it was easy to start using images on the front page to link to these resources. Instead of having a boring list of links we stated to play around with the simple concept of using images to link to these resources and putting the resources either at the bottom of the course or in a “hidden section”. What this has started producing are site pages which look nothing link Moodle course pages but more like normal engaging sites for students to explore. The bonus is that these new courses were as dynamic and easy to update as old courses because it is all based on Moodle activities and web pages. Teachers are able to modify tasks themselves and now we can use enhancers to “bling up” the front look.
Below are two examples of this; one is a Christian Studies site created by Tim Barrett (http://www.chaplaincymatters.org/) who works at our school.. the other is a term based course with a variety of Blooms Taxonomy style activities.
This is creating far more interactive and tantalising online environments for our students to work in. To see and hear more about what we are doing visit http://scil.com.au/