Sunday, April 5, 2009

Moodle

You may have guessed by now that I like free stuff or as Australians say, I am tighter than a fish’s bum. I object to having to pay for resources that are freely available on the net. That is one of the main reasons I made my collection of links called Primary School available to you. I think it is kinder to think of myself as being like a Bowerbird. Collecting digital treasures for my website nest. If you are not an Aussie, have a look at this video from David Attenborough. Moodle is one of these treasures. I am looking for new ways of delivering content to students that takes advantage of the power of ICT and I am finding Moodle to be fairly exciting for the following reasons:
  • It is FOSS (free and open source software).
  • Being FOSS it is constantly evolving and improving.
  • It is modular and you can add useful objects and tools to it (the number and range of these will increase).
  • It allows teachers to create a course (unit of work) and deliver this content to anyone, anywhere, any time.
  • Learners only need a browser such as IE or Firefox (Please give Firefox a go) and an internet connection to use it.
  • It allows you to create your course and improve on it each year (no more handing in programs, I hear you say)
  • It allows you to collaborate and share courses with other teachers and so, reduces the incidence of duplication (how many of us are creating the same units of work today and reinventing the wheel?).
  • It manages assessment and student feedback really well.
Ok. I admit there are a few hitches. You will have to move out of your comfort zone and learn something new. I get sick of teachers telling me, "Not more things we have to learn!", but that is what life is all about. If you don't learn, you don't grow. My suggestion is that you start by watching these videos. Then look at the examples I collected and then log in to the Moodle demonstrations at http://www.moodle.mylearningspace.com.au/ and http://demo.moodle.org/ and learn how it works (I am a novice too and hope never to be considered an expert at anything). One of the problems I have found is finding primary school Moodle courses that are available for public viewing. You have to log in as a guest and I often find I am locked out, so it is difficult to view good existing examples. The other problem is that, while you can run Moodle on a single computer, you really need to get a computer nerd to download and put the Moodle software on your school or regional education office server so you have somewhere secure to store the precious courses that you create. You can get around this by using a free Moodle hosting service such as Ninehub.com as a way of dipping your toe in the water. They host the Moodle courses for you and the only drawback is a bit of google advertising at the top and bottom. When you open a new account at Ninehub.com you can easily create a new course and play around adding topics, resources such as links and activities such as quizzes or forums. Once you have created something useful in this account, test it with the kids at school, then show it to your IT administrator and convince them to host it on your school or regional server. If this fails just leave it on Ninehub.com . They also offer a paid service if you want extra features. To me Ninehub.com looks like a good place to start (I hope I am not proved wrong sorry). The other problem with Moodle is that it looks really high school centric but I am sure that once primary teachers like me get a hold of it, there will be new modules and new ways of using it that are more suited to primary schools that will emerge. Go on. Do yourself and your students a favour and have a go.

P.S. No sign of the new netbooks yet that are ordered but I am hoping we can get hold of them by next term. Hopefully, I can have a couple of decent units of work ready to deliver via Moodle when we get the devices up and running.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Charlie

    Glad you are finding 2 Minute Moodles useful.

    Other resources I can recommend:
    - GlobalClassroom - free Moodle for educators, better & faster than Ninehub and no annoying ads
    - "Socrates" (not sure but heard good things) free Moodle

    - Moodlecommons.org - collection of courses people from around the world contribute to share

    - Moodlemeet & Greet Ning (Laurie Korte)

    - "Moodle for 7 to 14 year olds" (a book recently written by Mary Cooch, a friend of mine in UK, published by Packt publications)

    I am writing a book on Moodle myself, it will probably be quite helpful to you guys as well (out I hope by end of the year).

    If you are on Twitter, follow people like:
    moodleman (Julian Ridden, AUS)
    moodlefairy (Mary Cooch, UK)
    moodler (Martin Dougiamas, AUS)
    awyatt (Alicia Wyatt, USA)
    daibarnes (Dai Barnes, UK)
    digitalmaverick (Drew Buddie, UK)
    cytochromec (Colin Matheson, AUS)
    rhysatwork (Rhys Moults, AUS)
    joseph_thibault (as named, USA)

    + a few others you will find no doubt.

    We already follow each other on Twitter (lasic) so here is one less for you :-)

    Chances are you will bump into some more moodlers out there who will be more than happy to lend you a hand - we are a pretty sharing and caring lot.

    Good luck and happy moodling.

    Tomaz

    PS If you want to explain Moodle and see what an impact it can have, have a bit of a look around 'Human' blog for clips (Moodle explained with LEGO & How can Modle change a school). I show this first to staff new to Moodle to sort of get their head around it a bit.

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  2. We've just started using Moodle at our school and we're having great success with it. For the moment we've just got 6 teachers working with it (Yr 5 and 6) and it's pretty good.

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