MyColl (Our New Moodle Site) – 2 months in

Well our new Moodle Site (MyColl) has now been going just over 2 months. The idea to replace our school Microsoft File Sharepoint(less) site with Moodle grew last year as some staff started using a “Rebel” Moodle site that I provisioned. By early October I also had a handful of students requesting that we replace it. Two of the students helped me develop a site plan and they came up with the idea of naming it “MyColl” (as Wellington College students often refer to themselves as Coll Boys). I whipped up a Photoshop mock-up of what the site would look like. I was careful to include the integration of Google Apps Education Edition as an essential element. I presented the idea to the school’s Senior Management team Mid October. The idea was that the site would be the “hub” of online activity for the school on top of being a teaching & learning site.

By the end of October the site was hosted and themed for us by Totali. They also provided a tool called TSync which syncs password changes on the school’s Active Directory through to online services. We also made MyColl the browser home page on all computers, plus we enabled SSO (single-sign-on) so that students and staff were automatically signed into Google Apps when signed into Moodle.

Key Features of MyColl

  1. Students Input and Ownership – they named it and also designed the logo (over 1/3 of the school voted online for the student finalists who submitted their Logo design online)
  2. The MyTools dropdown provides access to all student Google Apps
  3. We do not allow students to change photos (their school ID is uploaded for them), First or Last Name, and Email Addresses – this forces them to access school Gmail accounts. If they want to fool around then they use FaceBook.
  4. A Gmail Block appears (once logged in) on the front page with unread mail headings displayed
  5. We turned off Moodle Calendar completely – opting instead for the more generic Google Calendar (all departments are required to place assessment dates on the school assessment calendar embedded in the site. We also have our standard Public Calendar embedded and a Sports Calendar was also added.
  6. School Events and information are updated regularly on the home page (though we are currently in the April School Holidays)
  7. There are a range of public pages for parental and public access and information. A number of pages and most courses require logins.

The site is deemed to be “under construction” as a number of pages are still to be added over the next few months (we are aiming for one new page/course  every week or two).

How successful has it been?

I am presenting the site to the New Zealand Moodle Moot (Conference) this week. My presentation is on the integration of Moodle and Google Apps with a discussion around Google Docs as a teaching & learning tool. As I was putting together the presentation I gathered some statistics on our MyColl site.

Key Statistics Are:

  • We are averaging 1200 “Unique” logins per week (out of a school of 1530 students and 120 staff) – From Moodle Stats
  • We are averaging about 1500 “Absolute Unique Visitors” Daily – Google Analytics (interpreted this means from a different browser/computer)
  • Interesting is that although there is a drop-off of “Absolute Unique Visitors” on Friday and Saturday, Sunday when school is closed sees us maintain the 1500 visitors.
  • In the last 15 DAYs of school (since we enabled Google Analytics) we have had 28,400 Visits, 8700 Absolute Unique Visitors with 116,840 Pageviews.

Considering we have been effectively going for only 9 school weeks this is very encouraging. Only about 25-30% of teachers are using it regularly with their students. As training is provided and courses are developed over coming months, we should see the usage really take off!

Why has it been successful?

I believe that the integration of Google Apps with the Moodle Site has been one of the keys. The site is steadily growing to become the communication hub of the school as well as an effective growing eLearning site.

Feel free to explore the site at http://mycoll.school.nz and ask any questions here.

3 Comments

DarrenApril 12th, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Looks great Mark. My only challenge to you would be that like so many online environments this is focused on a single school. Wouldn’t it be better to have a shared environment between schools? This would provide an opportunity for rich collaboration between schools at both a teacher and student level. I know Moodle can be networked, but it is not the same believe me.

Then Moodle and Google Apps can be left to do what they do best which is develop learning online and the school site can be developed with Drupal or Joomla.

Not to knock what you are doing (it’s great), just wanted to throw it in there as a thought…

Mark CallagherApril 12th, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Hi Darren, we had exactly that with the Wellington Loop. A shared Moodle site between about 6 schools. Unfortunately the collaboration didn’t eventuate because Moodle (the tool) was used at varying levels between the schools. My belief is that Collaboration on a wider scale is a worthy goal, but small steps are required before we expect the jump into the utopia. Staff and students need to be comfortable in the environment, and particularly they need to learn to use it effectively. A strategically planned site, taking advantage of the already strong school identity has enabled our students and staff to move into that environment. A year down the track we could look at a collaborative interschool environment. However, I would prefer the current school Moodle to be used at say 80% effectiveness, rather than an interschool site used at 20% effectiveness. Small well planned steps is what I have come to believe over the last 3-4 years of experience.
A good example of a site that is collaborative throughout New Zealand is the Mahara ePortfolio site called MyPortfolio. Though from my experience, the goals are good but there is very little interschool collaboration. The schools that do use it are teachers working with a class or projects across year groups within the actual school. Again, an example of a site that espouses collaboration across schools, with little evidence of it.

DarrenApril 13th, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Hi Mark,

You may be right, but I think the difference comes in how the schools buy into it (shared environment) and leadership. The trouble with Myportfolio is it just sits out there ready for anyone to use, but there is no co-ordination or leadership when it comes to collaboration.

Cantatech and AorakiNet have a shared environment and I can see real possiblities starting to emerge, especially with our three year blended learning project which involves 30 teachers from 30 different schools. There is now a purpose for teachers to collaborate and this makes a difference. Without a shared environment (including Mahara and Google Apps) it would be far more difficult for these teachers to work together.

Pockets of sharing outside of this group is starting to occur as well.

I do agree that small steps have to be taken, but I’m not sure it has to happen within a school based environment. Darfield High School for example, has 1/3rd of its staff using Educo (the shared Moodle) this year. Last year it was around 5 teachers. The fact it is not branded as Darfield’s has made little difference.

I’m not trying to change your mind here. Your site looks great and it would be foolhardy to change now, but I think it would be great to see our larger schools working more closely together in the future (starting to happen now of course).

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