Tag: School

Leaving behind the “Scroll of Death” –A Moodle Evolution

Our school is going through a major reform of not only teaching styles and pedagogy but learning space, both physical and virtual.

My main roll in this transformation is guiding and reforming our online class spaces which run on a Moodle infrastructure. 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”

List

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!

NewPage

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 a college who works at our school.. the other is a term based course with a variety of Blooms Taxonomy style activities.

Graphics2

Graphics

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/

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Embarking on ePortfolios using Mahara in a K-12 School..

 

Mahara

Well I’ve embarked on a journey of rolling out the use of Mahara as an ePortfolio system for our school which is K-12 (NBCS) and have had some interesting reflections.

Everyone Seems Keen

Normally new technology or ideas in the education sector is met with much resistance and squirming. With ePortfolios though, it seems that the educational ground is fertile and ready/waiting for this implementation. I have had teachers and managers alike approaching me to ask how and when they can start using the system.

Know What You Want

The first and most important step in implementing ePortfolios at your school is to make sure you know WHY. This seems obvious, but it is a crucial set in the process of figuring out HOW you will implement the system as a whole. At our school (NBCS) we have the following primary goals:

  1. Student learning reflection and “Award Garden”
  2. Better Student-Parent-Teacher communication and work display
  3. Staff Professional Development

With these goals figured out it makes decisions down the road a lot easier.

 

Pete2

Separate Installations for School Sites

Having fiddled with the use of “Institutions” in Mahara to split and re-theme the Primary and Secondary ePorfolios, I found that it was actually easier to create two whole separate installations. Some of the reasons for this have been:

  1. In the current version of Mahara 1.2 you cannot stop members from one institutions becoming friends and interacting with other institutions.
  2. You cannot configure plugins for a specific institution, which means if you want to switch off something for Primary you have to do it for the whole site.
  3. Single sign-on becomes messy when you have two separate Moodle sites trying to log into the one Mahara site. (Double user accounts start popping up all over the place.)

There is a little more management required for two sites but so far these have been minimal.

Lastly – Run a Pilot Test Program

Pick three enthusiastic teachers across the school in a range of areas and allow them to start a pilot program for a semester. allow this process to be fairly loose in nature. This not only engages the students and teachers, but also gives you time to iron out all the bugs and hiccups you might encounter before releasing the system across the whole school. Remember, you want the majority of teacher’s first experience with ePortfolios to be positive and not full of issues.

Our ePortfolio experience so far has been great and I hope that some of these tips will help you with yours!

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