Thursday, 15 November 2012

reflections of moodle

I was asked on a group I belong to:
Subject: Are you using moodle?
 I am looking at our student learning platform and wondered if you could let me know....

1. Do you use Moodle?
2. if yes - who hosts it and is it well used?
3. if no - do you use another learning platform? If so which one?

I am really interested in what people are doing out there? I like Moodle and have many of my courses written in Moodle. However it costs and my school is looking at the cost. I can see this being an area where they will make some savings! Am looking for alternatives or a cheap way of hosting it.

Many thanks to you all.

my response

The school I am at uses moodle through the watchdog moodle in schools implementation. We are beginning our Learning Management System journey as this is the first real year we have used it. Last year was implementation and constant interruptions.
We have started a PD journey introducing staff to how and why they would want to use it, as with earthquakes, who knows when, and if there will be anymore, plus the three day snow day doesn't help, we need to continue students learning as exams don't move.

How do I use it, all students projects and assessments and other evidence of assessment are handed in on it, that way I have a final copy of the students work, the work is graded online and results are feedback with any issues mentioned in the feedback to feedforward. Students are able to login at home and access their results, as we did not have a student portal running. However it doesn't transfer the results into the Student Management System.
I had the students hand in a PDF of their final external assessment in case it goes missing in the post and am requested to provide another copy. 
I also have students do pre and post testing for my juniors through moodle using a number of quiz functions, this provides me details of students learning and am able to incorporate this into my teaching program.
Photos of my whiteboard are put up after lessons so students can refer to them at later stages, especially needed when students missed taking notes or where away, has been useful for the mysql top 6 commands needed. 
We also have a moodle install with python being able to run to test students programs against test data to make sure that there programs are robust, this enables them to have a competitive environment which has raised students understanding of programming. I teach at a boys school. As well as getting them used to other competition environments.
Being able to drag and drop resources from my folders directly into my courses now has made the process so much easier.
My year 13 class this year was driven out of the multiple levels of students, the units were made available so students could work at there own pace, in some cases this enabled the competent students to complete all work half way through term 3, while others worked at a slower pace and aimed towards University Entrance. 
I have all my resources created available to use next year in one easy place.
Students tell me what works and what doesn't and I make changes to my teaching and resources based upon these feedback.
It has become a phrase in our school, "It's on *********", with BYOD now becoming more and more part of the environment we are now allowing students to access the school file storage network, so where are they going to access the resources from in the future?  

We have a number of textbooks for other departments made available under their electronic licenses and will make particular use of these next year in mathematics and science, chemistry and physics.

Moodle is our portal for students to go off to other areas, Single Sign On is used so logging into moodle authenticates other services, see for a number of these.
We use Google Apps,, myportfolio as well to support students learning.

Why are we not hosting it ourselves, time, expertise and cost. We don't have to have our own server, we don't have the technical expertise, or time to even manage it all. If something goes wrong I can pick up a phone and ring and someone else gets to fix it. Backups are done and checked, we get acces to the moodle updates and security fixes as part of our contact, and don't have to pay extra for it. 
Downsides, we don't get to add our own plugins that we find, these need to be security checked.
I would love to get a turn it in or alternative up and running as this will help students, they are going to hit these at tertiary level and getting students to authenticate that the work they are handing in is there own helps students with the values and key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum.

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