Session notes: Making the most of Moodle!

During the last session of the day, I had the pleasure to sit in on Michelle Moore ‘s presentation, Making the most of Moodle! Moore shared a site for us to examine. I tested the site through my iPad and was initially impressed with the mobile theme that appeared.

Moore began by explaining what Moodle was.

  • Can make it your own.
  • Open source
  • Scorm compliant
  • Can develop a variety of content
  • Communication and collaboration tools
  • Social constructionist underpinnings
  • Can control roles to allow certain permissions.

What does moodle look like?
Moore showed a number of different themes that have been applied to Moodle. The different looks provide inspiration for sites I am developing.

Here are training issues Moore has identified which Moodle can assist.

  • Complex navigation
  • Technical difficulties
  • Low engagement
  • Limited retention
  • Collaborative test taking

During the rest for Moore’s presentation, she starts addressing these difficulties and how Moodle can help.

Fixing navigation and technology issues
To address navigation and technology issues, Moore begins by recommending common design concerns such as not using more than 3 font styles per page, maintaining consistency throughout the site, using topic summaries and labels, and don’t use the course page for content.

Additionally, Moore recommends using the course page as a launch pad; however, do not overwhelm your page with content. Instead place the content in lessons, books, or other files. Also, beware of the bling which will distract the learner rather than assist. Don’t be afraid of white space. You can add white space through indenting and adding spacing between items. Use images to enhance course. Moore recommends aligning images to right or left, so that the text will wrap around the images. Additionally, control for scroll of death; this is where too much content is placed on the page and learners have to scroll to find content. Finally, Moore recommends simplifying delivery. She recommend not using MS Word docs or PDFs, instead use books and lessons, and embed slideshare presentations.

Moore introduced the use of Lessons for delivering content. With lessons, you can provide content and assessments. Adaptive instruction can be created by using branching within the lessons. Lessons can incorporate audio, video, image, and textual content. By using lessons, you can create lessons that adapt to the learner. For example, ask what type of MS Word they have and provide the correct solution.

Why use lesson?

  • Chunk content
  • Simplify deliver
  • Ease of access
  • Ease of editing
  • Increase learning engagement

Moore also introduced books. With books, each page is a static page and has a table of contents. Additionally, you can print out a book; however, you cannot print out a lesson. Moore offers the same reasons for using books as she did for lessons.

Moore provides a number of other recommendations to help learner navigation.

  • Do give your learners completion tracking. This basically turns the course into a checklist where learners can track their own progress. This capability has to be turned on at the admin level.
  • Install plug-ins that will collapse topics or weeks. This makes it easier for the learner to hide unneeded content.
  • Turn on auto linking at the admin level. This will automatically link to documents referenced through out the site.

How to fix problems with learning and engagement
Moore offered great advice for learning and engagement issues. First of all, don’t do all the work. Let learners do the work for you. For example, let students create quiz questions, and then you can pull them from quiz bank. Create a glossary and let students add content. The administrator should turn auto-linking on. The glossary is also able to use text, audio, and video. You can use a glossary to collect best practices. If students are adding glossary entries, they can be held until you approve them. Glossary items can be rated. Finally, glossary items can be randomly displayed on the course page with a block.

Moore also introduced the workshop module. The workshop module can be used for peer review and peer feedback. Within the Moodle site, you can create a grading form or rubric that everyone would fill out. This tool helps to automate review.

How to fix collaborative test taking

Moore provided great clues for managing collaborative activities and test taking. She first emphasized all the tools available, for example, the logs. Don’t forget about the logs. The logs can provide clues on what has been completed, when, and how long it took. She recommends taking advantage of conditional activities, which must be turned on at the admin level. Finally, do not be afraid to experiment.

Overall, it was a great presentation. Although, I knew most of what she was talking about, she provided great examples and ideas. You can catch more of Michelle Moore’s ideas at http://slideshare.net/michelledmoore

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