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Moodle vs Facebook, Wikis and Blogs

The Context

 

The NorthGlen Cluster is made up of two secondary schools; Northcote College and Glenfield College. Both schools are located onAuckland’sNorthShore and share a desire to increase student engagement and achievement. This shared view underpins the focus of our ICTPD cluster which is now in its third year.

                       

In 2011 the cluster goals are:

 

  • All students able to effectively use IT to access information and take learning beyond the classroom fostering values of inquiry, curiosity and participation.

 

  • Provide dedicated time for lead teachers, new teachers and HODs to build skills in the use of e-learning strategies and pedagogies.

 

  • To progress with infrastructural improvements to maximize the potential of the NEAL loop.

 

  • Enable and encourage all teachers to use e-learning tools seamlessly in curriculum delivery to enhance learning for students.

 

  • Have a parent portal operational in both schools to enable family and whānau to support the student and monitor progress. (LMS/SMS)

 

  • To have Lead teachers contributing to local and national professional learning workshops.

 

  • To have teachers contributing to subject specific on-line communities with Lead teachers meeting to collate ‘story’ and evidence to share on the Virtual Learning Network.

 

What we did

 

2008

Decided KAMAR and Moodle would integrate well based on what we saw atKatikatiCollegewhere they used loan laptops and wireless broadband. Some of the factors we did not fully consider were:

  • Storage (internal vs external LMS hosting and associated costs as usage grew)
  • The advisability of setting up a g-mail address for all enrolled students making Moodle more manageable

 

2009

GlenfieldCollegeforged ahead and within a year had the KAMAR portal working that enabled students to see their achievement data.

NorthcoteCollegechose to focus more on using Moodle for teaching and learning resources.

 

Both schools hit speed-bumps- specifically:

  • Problems with reliability with external host
  • The clunky nature of uploading resources using Moodle 1.9
  • The exponential growth making it very expensive to cover the cost of storage with an external host
  • Active directory problems
  • Glenfield used the KAMAR portal but there were technical issues with hosting this externally and internal hosting on their primary server raised security issues that are unresolved which led to them turning this portal facility off.

 

 

From Wikis and Blogs to Moodle:

 

Moodle 1.9 was less popular than wikis and blogs but the frustrations were:

  • Having multiple logins and passwords
  • Students were reluctant to visit multiple wikis and blogs – even though they were spending considerable time each day (night) on their computers socially networking. – Interestingly even the cluster wiki essentially failed because staff at Glenfield felt the same way. – It was an extra place to go for information.

 

Moodle 2 is now in use atNorthcoteCollege.  Initial teething problems with scripting and logins (Students needed an e-mail address to be able to log in.) have been overcome.

Senior students are habitually referring to Moodle for information in many subjects (English, Classical Studies, History, Commerce, Japanese, Media, Physical Education, Statistics and Biology).

 

Moodle 2 is much more straight-forward for less confident teachers than the previous version and has a good blog facility built in that encourages collaborative work and it is easy for students to transfer files between home and school.

Best to use Moodle as a launch off point for big files (to You-tube or other sites).

 

Training provided for HODs and delegated LMS manager in each subject area.

 

 

Lessons Learned

 

  • Give students a reason to go into Moodle.
  • Junior classes in particular need to be physically planted in a computer room and made to log on step by step. Once on-line they use the site well.
  • Submission of assessments on line through Moodle works well and prepares students for tertiary practice.
  • Moodle 2 is much more user friendly than Moodle 1.9 and has a good blog facility
  • Students with limited internet access/time need to be enticed away from Facebook
  • Consult staff & students when considering blocking student access to Facebook at school
  • Facebook for educational groups can be managed by a senior student
  • Facebook can be effective in a language learning context – turn off some features
  • Allow teachers access to Facebook as it is an effective way to manage sports teams
  • Use portable video devices rather than cell phones to record activities if possible to avoid inappropriate posting on You-tube
  • Make the use of e-learning the expectation of all teachers (build into appraisal but provide support)
  • Using Moodle (rather than wikis etc) addresses intellectual property issues to some extent and retains resourcse when a staff member leaves the school.

 

Next steps

 

Ensuring schoolwide use of Moodle as a centralised source of learning material for students across all subjects.

 

1.         In the immediate term we plan to do this by:

  • Continuing to provide PD support for teachers and opportunities to share practice
  • Having at least one LMS ‘go to’ person (LMS Manager) in each department
  • Building the expectation of e-learning pedagogies into the Teacher Performance Review systems – with an evidence requirement.

 

  1. Developing the parent portal. (Refer VLN Trials and Tribulations)

 

 

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