In Moodle-izing Your Education Enterprise, you read about how the Moodle course management system could be used to facilitate online professional learning, facilitate campus communications, and much more. How Moodle will be used also will depend on your expertise in setting up Moodle to allow for maximum educational use. This article seeks to share several practical tips for enhancing your Moodle for K-12 district use. Below are some of those tips:
When I first implemented Moodle in my K-12 learning environment, I was exploring how I could use Moodle and encourage others to use it. That resulted in one Moodle installation with a multitude of courses. That can be problematic, especially if you plan to grow your Moodle implementation. With any technology program, especially one that is Web-based, remember that youll have to update it on a regular basis. Like a poorly planned city, you can end up with a series of Moodles that are running different versions and have various components -- and the whole enterprise quickly becomes confusing to maintain. To avoid that confusion, I urge you to map out what you hope to accomplish. Below is a sample concept map of a Moodle implementation.
Click here to view larger image.
As you can see from the diagram above, my school district's Moodle is organized into the following sites:
Professional Learning Center (PLC):
This is where adult learners can participate in either instructor-led or self-paced, 100 percent online courses, and earn Continuing Professional Education (CPE) and/or Gifted and Talented credit hours. The GT credit hours are done in collaboration with our district's Advanced Academic Services Office, and the partnership with them has been well worth the investment of getting their staff trained in online learning. We also are working with our Office for Professional Learning to consider what additional courses should be available to the entire district. District level teacher specialists are developing online courses for publication and use within the Professional Learning Center.
Some specific examples of how Moodle is being used to enhance professional learning opportunities for educators are:
K-12 Open Campus:
The Open Campus facilitates teachers, and impacts students who are participating in online literature circles, classroom specific courses facilitated by teachers, and more. The focus of Open Campus is to enhance classroom teachers' ability to create online learning environments that complement their teaching. Some of the exciting ways that Moodle is being used in K-12 are exemplified in the links below:
This is the Technology Center, a place where support areas and online communities for technology department initiatives are facilitated. There are many examples of Moodle being used as a "support area" where you can facilitate sharing frequently asked questions and ideas about a particular initiative. In my district, for example, information is shared about our district's electronic gradebook.
Mapping your Moodle implementation is an important step to take before you start creating Moodles on a server. Another point to consider is how you will enhance that Moodle installation. Many modules and enhancements are available to make Moodle even more versatile than it already is.
Expanding Moodle's capabilities can seem like a daunting task. To help accomplish that task, here are some Moodle tips organized into two categories: 1) Moodle Tips and 2) Moodle Modules, Blocks and Filters.
Note: Because these tips are too long to include in this article, links to more information are provided.
Administration These tips will help you better administer Moodle. You also might consider purchasing a book on Moodle, such as William Rice's Moodle 1.9 from Packt Publishing. I recently reviewed this book and found it accurate to the process you follow in setting up Moodle.
End-User These tips focus on enhancing the end-user's ability to accomplish more with Moodle.
Moodle can be enhanced in variety of ways. Essentially, you can add what is known as a block, a module, or a filter to your Moodle installation. Below are some of my favorite ways to enhance Moodle.
Top Moodle Modules
Another one that looks interesting, although I have yet to try it, is OpenShare.
Top Moodle Blocks
Often, technology administrators ask questions about Moodle. The questions below are the most common; possible responses also are included.
Is Moodle a district-subscription type site or can one teacher subscribe?
Moodle isn't a district-subscription type site, although you can certainly go through a third-party hosting provider that will set up the Moodle for you and help you get going. You can find some of those online at Moodle Tips -- Hosting Providers . Please be aware that there are usually costs for doing that. I would encourage you to work through channels in your District and set up a server and get it installed. It's definitely worthwhile to have your own server. In my situation, we have active Moodle running on servers that also do other things. The servers we buy are about $6-7K each. You also can take advantage of a Moodle hosting solution.
What does free, open source mean in regards to Moodle?
The word "free" does not mean "no cost" but refers to the ethic of free software. The distinction to keep in mind is that while this is Free, Open Source Software (FOSS), costs are involved in implementing the solution as measured by capital outlay (e.g. server(s) to host it), technical support personnel, and so on.
Would you share your favorite place for getting free content/curriculum in Moodle format?
One of the daunting tasks of using Moodle is course development. Whether you are designing for educators or students, knowing how to start and where to start is important. Yes, and here are a few of them:
How can Moodle be used to prevent FERPA issues and ensure overall security problems are taken care of?
Moodle can be used to teach teachers about FERPA. We do it by hosting a video that shares key FERPA information and then have people register for the course, view the video, and complete a quiz that is graded. If they do well enough, they pass. If they don't, back to the video. Moodle also can be set up to minimize the risk of security problems. Frequent updates to Moodle are shared and discussed online.
Can I transfer all that Ive done in Blackboard to Moodle?
Yes, you definitely can transfer content from Blackboard to Moodle. For starters, I encourage you to read this paper on the subject. Not having had to endure that transfer, I have no more to offer on the subject.
Moodle can be used in a variety of ways to enhance teaching, learning, and leading environments in K-12 education. I encourage you to explore this solution and embrace Moodle as a one-stop-shopping way to introduce yourself, your colleagues, and your students to engaging learning in a safe online learning environment.
Article by Miguel Guhlin
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