When my son drove a car for the first time he remarked that driving was not just about handling the car but about handling the car while keeping in mind multitude of factors like other drivers, their driving, other vehicles, pedestrians, signs and signals, following the rules and so on! I felt the same when making the lesson in Moodle. It was not about playing with technology but using it keeping in mind the content, the suitable pedagogy, the abilities and ZPD’s of the students involved regarding technology and content, and my needs as the instructor.
In my attempt to create a balanced program I relied on Anderson (2008) to ensure that adequate opportunities for interaction between students with content, students with students, and students with teacher were provided. I strove to include some variety in content and activities to accommodate different learning styles, which is essential for good learning (Chickering & Gamson, 1987). The affordances of Moodle allowed for this through use of open forums,group forums,chats, collaborative wikis, creating database, designing partnered assignments, and including multimedia. Besides ensuring to embed constructivist principles I also created lessons keeping in mind the cognitive strategies of scaffolding and schema building. I created lessons that scaffolded on previous lessons to ensure layering of information, which would help the students in making meaningful connections.
Besides pedagogy, I had to keep in mind the criteria for the assignment. It was just like it was stated in the assignment outline– some requirements were easy and some were challenging. Embedding html was the biggest challenge for me. The power and effectiveness of a Community of Learners became evident as the class worked together to build individual lessons. We tested each other’s quizzes, analysed the criteria together and troubleshooted as a team. Besides my classmates, Google was my other big help. I found it more resourceful than the Toolkit.
As I worked on the assignment, I felt like a designer! There was the aspect of aesthetics involved which could not be separated from content and pedagogy. Even though it was a comprehensive and a time consuming assignment, I enjoyed it. The format has to be appealing to the 10 year olds who would be using this site for learning.
In meeting the criteria for the Moodle assignment, I have five completed modules for a grade 4 Reading Unit. However for assessment purposes Module 4 and 5 could be examined besides the Splash page. On the Splash page I have six navigational links, one of which is a discussion forum called Help Desk. The other discussion forum is in Module 5, while the additional group discussion forum is in Module 4. There are some other asynchronous communications tools used in the lessons as well – like the Wiki and more forums – as I believe discussion to be an essential part of learning. A chat has been also set in Module 5. I enjoyed creating the HTML pages in Moodle and also embedding my other sites in the lessons. Most of this was accomplished in Module 5, which deals with more in-depth content.
The biggest challenge for me was programming the selective release. With the option not initially activated on the site, I had to get creative and I tried a few different methods. Firstly, I controlled each module from the splash page by displaying only that module whose link was clicked and hiding the others. Secondly, every time a module is selected, it asks the students if the previous module has been completed and provides the links to go back and ahead. The selective release was also activated by putting a start day on the initial activities in module 1, 2, 3 and 4 and then making the following activities available in module 2 depending on the results of the opening pre-assessment quiz.
Is submitting this assignment the end of Moodle for me? Absolutely not! The affordances of Moodle compliment my pedagogical beliefs. Besides – it’s free! I will be using it in my blended teaching and will also share it and teach it to my colleagues.
Anderson, T. (2008).Towards a Theory of Online Learning. In: T. Anderson & F. Elloumi (Eds.), Theory and Practice of Online Learning. Edmonton AB: Athabasca University. Accessed online 3 March 2009 http://www.aupress.ca/books/120146/ebook/02_Anderson_2008_Anderson-Online_Learning.pdf
Chickering, A.W. & Gamson, Z.F. (1987). Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, 39 (7), 3-7. Accessed online 11 Mar 2009 http://www.aahea.org/bulletins/articles/sevenprinciples1987.htm