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#octel MOOC

Introduction & My “Big question”

I’ve enrolled in ALT MOOC with the first challenge being the management of the onslaught of mails, posts and tweets from my enthusiastic classmates. Literally over the last few days 100’s of my virtual classmates have addressed the first activity in the course by introducing themselves and posting their “big question” relative to the course. So heres my contribution to the deluge of information:

Introduction

Keeping my introduction brief. I work for Dublin City University, where I head up the Learning Innovation Unit (LIU). I would imagine so many people on this course are in a similar position to myself, loads to do and not enough time to do it in. The role of the LIU is to support learning innovation throughout the university so as you can expect we get calls from every corner of the college. It is great role and I’m very fortunate to have a great team, albeit far too small team. We are constantly looking for opportunities to establish collaboration with other third level institutions and as such this is a personal goal that I have for this course. Two technologies that we are interested in collaborative projects would be the use of Moodle in HE and the use of Google sites and Blogger for e-portfolios. . My Twitter id is @glynnmark and for more of a personal background please feel free to visit my linkedin profile – http://ie.linkedin.com/in/enhancingteaching

 

My big question is very simple how do I engage staff in the use of technology to enhance learning? I have staff with a wide range of abilities and interests when it comes to technology – how do cater for such a diverse audience, how do I measure the success of my team and our work programme. I’m very open to hearing the experiences of others with this and would welcome advice from all corners

 

 

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Interested in Collaborating on Moodle 2

Everybody connected in some way or another with Moodle is aware that the system has undergone significant changes when it moved from Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2. Some institutions are lucky to have significant resources at their disposal to cope with these changes – other institutions are not so lucky. Most of us have built up our training and support resources over a number of years. But the advent of Moodle 2 has put everybody onto the same starting point. To that end I have a suggestion for a collaboration. I suggest we sharing resources for Moodle 2. A logical suggestion considering the open source nature of Moodle.

We can potential share training resources i.e. training manuals and screencasts. In theory this level of collaboration is great, in practice though, there can be a great deal of difference between two different Moodle instances so my instructions on how to do x,y, or z is not applicable to your institution. That said, I do feel sharing instructional resources is a very useful idea and potentially a great starting point for collaboration between two or more institutions. However I have a specific suggestion on how to collaborate through Moodle.

I would like to collaborate on Moodle 2 orientated around an initiative led by Napier University in Scotland. This initiative is referred to as the 3E framework. The framework is based on an Enhance-Extend-Empower continuum. This was developed, with illustrative simple-but-effective examples that might be incorporated as a minimum (Enhance), through to uses of technology that give students more responsibility for key aspects of their learning (Extend), and to underpin more sophisticated, authentic activities that reflect the professional environments for which they are preparing (Empower).

The framework is best explained through examples. The link below provides such examples

http://staff.napier.ac.uk/services/academicdevelopment/TechBenchmark/Pages/examples.aspx

I would like to support this framework by crowd-sourcing screencast examples/instructions on the various features of Moodle relevant to the example on the framework e.g. if the example under groupwork at the enhance level

  • Make the group working more manageable and ‘visible’ by having each group post a weekly update of progress to a private discussion board visible to the group and tutor” –

The relevant moodle screencasts would be how to create groups and how to post a discussion forum.

If you are interested in either of these initiatives please contact me via the comment box below or via twitter through @glynnmark

Assessing documents from students and providing feedback through technology

Deutsch: Logo des Adobe Portable Document Format

There are several posts (linked below) providing information on how to manage your assessments through technology. This post deals specifically with receiving a document from your students e.g. a lab report or an essay and providing feedback on that asssignment.

The YouTube video below shows you how to set up an assignment to receive documents from your students. It will take a bit of time to set up (roughly 5 minutes) but it will save you an incredible amount of administration time connected to the assignment and from a quality assurance point of view will provide a potentially better experience for both the student and teacher.

The challenge that you will face is being able to read the documents that they have submitted. Every student may not have MS office and even if they do, it might not be the same version as yours. This will result in potentially a lot of extra contact with your students asking for appropriate versions of their documents. one way around this is to ask them to submit PDF versions of their submission. There are numerous versions of “PDF creators” allowing anybody to convert a file into PDF format for free. The one I use is CutePDF.

From a lecturers point of view it is now possible to annotate  a pdf enabling you to provide individual feedback for your students by using adobe reader

Embedding a twitter hashtag feed into your moodle site

Trying to get students to participate in moodle discussion forums can drive you up the wall.

There are a variety of  techniques that you can use to encourage engagement in the forums but this post may provide an easier solution. There is an old saying (unfortunately I don’t know where it came from, “if you want to catch a fish, go where the fish are”. In this context I interpret that as if you want to get students talking to one another about your subject – go to where they talk. The most obvious place for todays students is through social media. This short video shows you how to embed a hashtag from twitter into your moodle page. So when they talk on twitter about your subject, using the hashtag that you provide, all of their comments on twitter are fed through into your moodle course

In this video you will see the twitter feed being placed as a HTML block on the side of the course. You can also insert the feed as a “label” in a section on the course – the choice is yours

A poster outlining some of the great changes in Moodle 2

The poster below can be accessed in powerpoint format by clicking on the image below. Please feel free to download and adapt this poster to suit your needs – remembering creative commons. I would also welcome any feedback on the poster through the comments section of this blog post.

What is Moodle?

Moodle

Moodle (abbreviation for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is a free source e-learning software platform, also known as a Course Management System, Learning Management System, or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Moodle is a software package for producing Internet-based courses and web sites. It is a global development project designed to support a social constructionist framework of education.

Moodle is provided freely as Open Source software (under the GNU General Public License). Basically this means Moodle is copyrighted, but that you have additional freedoms. You are allowed to copy, use and modify Moodle provided that you agree to: provide the source to others; not modify or remove the original license and copyrights, and apply this same license to any derivative work.

This presentation sums it up it up nicely

 

 

Student generated content as an assessment

There are a variety of tools that can be used in moodle allowing students to generate reusable learning objects. Click on each of the each on the links below to find out more and how they can be used to get students to generate content to help themselves and their peers learn a particular topic :

Moodle 2 Databases

Databases

The database activity module allows the teacher and/or students to build, display and search a bank of record entries about any conceivable topic. The format and structure of these entries can be almost unlimited, including images, files, URLs, numbers and text amongst other things. Similar to the glossary option the database module is a great activity that can be utilised as a student assessment, allowing students to generate content for the rest of the class (and future classes) to learn from. Three main features distinguish databases from glossaries

Databases allow the teacher to provide specific fields for students to populate with information

You have a variety of template options

You can format the how the final product looks very easily.

The screencast below illustrates how to set up databases

For more information go to:  http://docs.moodle.org/22/en/Database_activity_module

Removing the “scroll of death” in Moodle with Diigo

The scroll of death is an infamous feature of courses on moodle; a consequence of too much content on the one page and the user having to continually “scroll” down page to find the information they are after. This tip will help teachers minimise the scroll of death, while at the same time keeping course page up to date with minimal effort from the teachers point of view.

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Moodle Discussion forums to collect new class material

Discussion forums are extremely powerful tool help bring learning outside the classroom. However they also can be used to bring learning back into the classroom from the teachers point of view. This short youtube clip illustrates the different type of discussion forums available into moodle and also how to set them up.

Later clips will show you how to use this as an assignment that gets the students to assessment the contribution of their classmates