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Building a Moodle

National Goal:
Increasing the understanding of the contribution that ICTs can make to effective learning across the regional cluster.

 

Background:
The Kapiti Collaborative comprises two secondary and eleven primary schools spaning the area from Paekakariki to Te Horo.

During 2011, a Moodle was developed through an association with the Kapiti Collaboration and Norrcom. The aim was to create an online space where initially, Kapiti teachers could collaborate and share resources, with a view to it becoming a much more useful teaching and learning resource. The working party was floated as a way to develop the Moodle, but in reality a small group of committed secondary teachers got the task underway, mostly in one school. The management team were very keen to have as many of the Kapiti schools as possible becoming aware of, and using the Moodle to complement their teaching programme and resources, so the former working party was reignited. This process is described below.

1.   What we changed in 2012?

We put a new working party leader in to run the working party. We decided that the major focus of the working party for 2012 would be the extension of the use of Moodle as a cluster-wide tool. It currently exists with growing use in the secondary schools and we want to extend that to the primary schools. This year we want a lead teacher at each primary school who takes on an administrative role in Moodle for their school and trials it with their own class. Some will hopefully get some early adopter colleagues involved as well.

2. Why this was necessary?

This was necessary as the previous working party leader was a school principal, not using Moodle extensively himself, and not realistically able to manage the day-to-day business of this working party. We needed a clear, specific goal that would be achievable, innovative and change teaching and learning within schools. We also needed something that would keep us connected when the contract comes to an end. A shared Moodle that we are all using and have to make joint decisions around will achieve that and give a sense of unity to students in their move from primary to secondary school. They will still be part of the wider community of Kāpiti schools.

3. What we learnt

We learnt the importance of using senior leadership to drive an initiative, but utilising people with more time to see it through. We have also learnt the importance of getting the right representatives involved from each school. Some teachers who opted to be part of the ICT working party already had commitments to other systems than Moodle and have not been keen to implement this. We need to advertise and discuss changes of direction more, giving working parties time to adjust and, if necessary, change personnel. We also learnt the need to be firmer around meeting times. It has proved very difficult to get the working party together at one time and it is harder to get the feeling of momentum in small separate groups.

4. What we achieved

This is a 2012 initiative with the first meetings in the last few weeks. We do now have Moodle administrators identified and courses created for almost all the primary schools. One primary teacher has already used her new course with her classes and is very excited by the potential.


We have just had Mark Osborne, the DP from Albany Senior High School, down presenting and the morning was Moodle focussed with the working party and other interested teachers. A lot more teachers now have courses that they have started to build and are informed about and keen to use Moodle as a learning tool. There is a sense of momentum in the working party and more widely within the collective.

We have created something concrete and can all look at each other’s courses as they develop, getting new ideas and bouncing ideas off each other. Secondary school teachers are already starting to see the different way Moodle can work in the primary environment and the potential for students to come to school who are already familiar with the tool and have their own ways of using it. Two further meetings are booked in for the next month to keep the current momentum.

5. How we know we achieved it

We know this from feedback from teachers in the working party who have been e-mailing the co-ordinator about what is happening for them since the original meeting.

“What really impressed me is that I showed it [Moodle] to them and some of them went home that night and got on and did it … it enabled them to take off with their learning.”

Julia Bevin Year 5/6 teacher.

There has been some positive feedback from primary school students who are starting to use Moodle for the first time. We also know it from the number who were keen to sign up for a training day with Mark Osborne and the buzz of learning that went on during that day. Secondary teachers who have been using the course for years have discovered new features of Moodle 2 that allow us to easily embed videos and share assignments with students. This can be seen in the videos on courses and assignment sharing already created.

6. What advice we would give others

We would advise others to consult more closely with the working party before changing direction and to communicate more firmly with principals about who was involved in the working party and what Moodle actually is. We had been talking to principals for some time about Moodle, but they did not have sufficient knowledge to share with their staff. We should have started with the Mark Osborne presentation, asking all principals to also be present, to get everybody fired up from the first introduction. We could also have e-mailed principals a link and ask them to share an existing secondary course with staff at their school before finalising who would come to the Mark Osborne session and take on administrative responsibility for Moodle in their school.


We now need to ensure that one or two working party members are either changed or commit to giving this a go. We need to set up regular meeting times for the rest of the year. We need the whole working party involved in the forward thinking about how we extend Moodle more broadly into primary schools next year. Primary teachers have asked for a whole day training, funded by the collective, when they can build their courses. We could have this discussion as part of that day, giving them a sense of empowerment and direction as to where the collective moves once we are no longer funded to work together.