Proposal

Purpose

Implement a Learning Management System, Moodle, to support the Grande Prairie Public School district priorities of high school flexibility project, Edge Skills academy and Professional Learning Communities.  First, high school flexibility project where “we personalize student learning to create an increased responsibility and engagement of students in their learning” (Gonnet, 2010, pg 1), second to support Edge Skills Academy where students will be perusing their passion in hockey and dance and subsequently be missing a number of school days.  Finally to support, GPPSD’s robust PLC’s that were established in 2003 to help improve teaching and learning.

 LMS Rationale: Why Moodle?

With a plethora of LMS’s to choose from my recommendation to GPPSD to choose moodle is based on the following reasons as outlined in the Sections Model (Bates & Poole, 2003)

 Cost: GPPSD finds itself in the unique position of being able to deploy Moodle, open source and one of the least expensive LMS options, for even less.  Alberta Education’s Innovation Classrooms Project has a Northern Consortium project whereby the northern school boards are going to share expertise among themselves at less cost.  Both Peace Wapiti School Division and High Prairie School division have mature Moodles installations that are maintained by their IT departments.  GPPSD can use the experts from PWSD or HPSD to install and train staff at less cost.  As well, tapping the Educational Technology experts to help provide professional development will also significantly reduce the costs of Moodle implementation.  Finally, the strength of Moodle lies in “Its detailed on-line help, examples and sensible defaults assist the user in installing, administering and using the LMS. The greatest strength of Moodle is the community” (Chavan & Pavri, 2004, pg.3)

 Teaching & Learning

Moodle was developed on a Social Constructivist philosophy that “is based on the ideas that people learn best when they are engaged in a social process of constructing knowledge through the act of constructing artifacts for others” (Cole & Foster, 2008, pg. 4) Moodle employs the idea of a social process with its forums, internal messaging system, wiki’s and chats.  With a simple roles override of an activity, like Book or Lightbox gallery, a student becomes the teacher and constructs a portion of the course for everyone else to see and comment on. 

 Assessment strategies: “Assessment must be timely and appropriate to inform students and teachers during, not after learning” (Hersch, 2009, pg. 53) this is another place where Moodle will excel.  Through the use of Moodle quizzes and lessons, students are given immediate feedback on their learning.  Activities such as assignments, forums and glossaries allow students to submit work anywhere and anytime and have teachers give feedback in a timely manner.  The alternative would be wait for the student to return to class from their hockey trip.   The difference between a standard webpage for content dissemination and Moodle is “learning goals and feedback” (Cole & Foster, 2008, pg. 211)

 Content and Skills: Moodle will become the glue that allows teachers to “design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessment incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes”, as the National Educational Technology Standard articulates, because Moodle is not designed to be a stand alone system.  Moodle’s flexibility allows it to be used with other systems which will allow GPPSD to integrate Sharepoint, Students Achieve, Web 2.0 Tools and other systems, such as cloud computing, in the future.  Moodle can easily embed cached Skype discussions, google forms to gather science data, embed an iEtherpad to allow for collaboration or engage in a rich conversation around a Voice Thread.  

 Ease of Use

Implementing Moodle, as opposed to other LMS’s will ensure that you have local training and support.  Coordination and leveraging of GPPSD’s Tech Tuesdays and PWSD’s Bright Ideas in Teaching & Technology Webinars, will enable both school districts to access quality PD for less.  As well Alberta Education has been developing Distributed Learning courses, which are complete courses for a variety of curriculum, available at Learn Alberta that are ready for import into Moodle.  This allows teachers to have a base of activities and resources that they can alter to suit their classroom context.  A Moodle implementation also means collaboration with other Alberta school districts that have moodle.  PWSD has a number of stand along courses that they will zip up and hand over to GPPSD to deploy, alter and deliver in their own Moodle.  This again gives teachers a starting point rather than a blank moodle slate.  Finally mobile Mooodle development is truly ensuring anytime, anywhere learning.  Applications for the iphone or android for moodle, mean students and teachers need not have an internet connection to connect to their course.

 Interactivity

Looking at GPPSD priorities of personalized learning, for the high school flexibility project, Edge Academy and collaborative space for PLC’s they need to employ a blended learning environment.  “Blended learning refers to courses that combine face to face classroom instruction with online learning and reduced classroom contact” (Dziuban, Hartman, & Moskal, 2004, pg. 2 ) and therefore Moodle will have to facilitate “interaction between learner and the learning materials” (Bates & Poole, 2003, pg. 99)  Moodles interaction between the learners is facilitated by their communication tools, roles overrides of simple activities and adding some third party modules like podcasting.  To facilitate integration between the learner and materials you may choose to use a Moodle calendar or news forum to keep track of due dates or the plethora of multimedia plugins which will allow you to embed audio or video. 

 Rationale (challenges, opportunities)

Overall I think that Moodle will offer more opportunities than challenges for GPPSD.  Anytime a major technology implementation is undertaken it will cost money and time.  However by choosing an LMS that your colleagues are employing should help lessen the amount of time and money required.   

 Budget

Category Description Quantity Item Cost Budget
Staffing IT Support 0.1 $70, 000 $7,000
  ET Support 0.5 $99,000 $49, 500
         
Professional Development ET Professional Development/Training 1 $1,000 $1,000
  IT Professional Development/Training 1 $200 $200
  Teacher Professional Development (sub days) 30 $200 $6,000
         
Equipment Server 1 $6000 $6,000
  Software Install 8 $75 $600
        $70, 300

 

Bibliography

Alberta’s Distributed Learning Strategy. Available October 9, 2010 from http://education.alberta.ca/department/ipr/adl-strategy.aspx

 Alberta Education: Supporting Innovative Classrooms.  Available October 9, 2010 from http://education.alberta.ca/admin/technology/sic/participants.aspx

 Bates, A.W. & Poole, G. (2003). Chapter 4: a Framework for Selecting and Using Technology. In Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education: Foundations for Success. (pp. 77-105). San Francisco: Jossey Bass Publishers.

 Cole, J. & Foster, H. (2008). Using Moodle: Teaching with the Popular Open Source Course Management System.  Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media

 Chavan, A., & Pavri, S. (2004). Open source learning management with Moodle. Linux Journal. Retrieved Oct 9, 2010, from http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/7478

 Dziuban, C., Hartman, J., & Moskal, P. (2004) Blended Learning. Educause Center for Applied Research, Research Bulletin, 7, 1-12. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERB0407.pdf

 Gonnet, C. (2010). Superintendent’s Welcome Message.  Retrieved from http://www.gppsd.ab.ca/Publications/Superintendent%27s%20Welcome%20Message.pdf

 Hersh, R. (2009). A Well Rounded Education or a Flat World. Educational Leadership, 67, 50-53.

 Learn Alberta. Available October 9, 2010 from http://www.learnalberta.ca/

 Mobile Moodle FAQ: Moodle Docs. Available October 9, 2010 from http://docs.moodle.org/en/Mobile_Moodle_FAQ

 Moodle Docs: Developers Manuel. Available October 9, 2010 from http://cvs.moodle.org/lang/sv_utf8/docs/developer.html?view=co

 National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers. Available October 9, 2010 from
http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTeachers/2008Standards/NETS_for_Teachers_2008.htm

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