Moodle takes off…

Well its been a long time since I have posted – 7 weeks. Co-incidentally this seems to be the same length of time as our summer school holidays. Unfortunately I have not been slumbering in the sun as some have. I have been hard at work writing 3 Moodle courses and preparing for my new role as eLearning Director at Wellington College, a New Zealand state boys high school.

The last week has been absolutely hectic for me. For the last 2 years the school has been using a Microsoft intranet or Content Management System called Sharepoint. Unfortunately this business targeted system, which is really aimed at getting mainly Microsoft documents online, has not met the creative needs of our dedicated teaching staff. Over the holidays I have developed an independent Moodle site for teachers wanting more. It was offered as one of a range of online options (along with wikis and blogs etc) to a group of teachers working in our Collaboration Webs project. In the space of the last few days interest has grown to the point where we now have 18 teachers wanting to develop courses with more knocking on the door. In just 3 days over 100 students have enrolled in courses and I expect up to 400 within the next 2 weeks. This has far exceeded my expectations.

Feedback from teachers, once shown the potential of Moodle, has been one of “this is exactly what I am after”. One commented that “this will totally change my teaching”. The way I pitched it to teachers was that they could have their own course site with full control over how they wanted to use it. Our other SharePoint system frustrated more than encouraged experimentation and discovery. I emphasised three aspects of the course:

  • The first was the way they could organise their content and hyperlinks etc.
  • The second was the huge range of choices in interactivity.
  • Thirdly, I emphasised that they could monitor student activity

It is interesting that they could do none of these three things with the Microsoft SharePoint system that the College still uses.

Lastly one of the things that I am very conscious of is workload, particularly at this time of year. I have suggested to teachers to just start with one of their classes and upload a few documents that they already use. Once students are enrolled then they can add more content and start using the interactive tools. Keeping things simple and quick at the early stages is important. Of course once a teacher starts using Moodle and discovers its full potential for both teaching and learning then they won’t look back. Without realising it their ICT skills will grow exponentially (sorry I had to sneak in a Maths term there).

Anyway, that is all from me for now. To all the Kiwi (New Zealand) teachers, all the best for the start of the year. And greetings from “Down Under” to all those from overseas who are delving into the exciting and rapidly evolving world of eLearning.

The new Moodle site can be seen here: RightClickLearning

Thats all for now. I will try to write more regularly, once things settle down a bit…

Mark

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