Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Overall thoughts on MootIE13

Overall, the 3 days have been great.  The sessions on Tuesday (day 2) were of more interest to me than Wednesday largely due to the amount of 'upgrade' and 'technical' sessions (whereas Tuesday seemed to have a lot more practical uses).  The event has succeeded in meeting my expectations again.  It continues to be an excellent source of information and networking to get ideas for the next things you want to do using Moodle.  

The range of organisations, perspectives (user, teacher, technical) and levels of skills makes it quite a challenge to meet everyone's needs. However, there are a few areas where I think we can do something a bit different to make this an even better event!

In the spirit of 'Moodle' I think that delegates should be able to 'apply' ideas (eg: the use of the tools, use of plugins, application of findings from research etc).  I did see at least one session where someone showed some heavy customisation to a Moodle 1 course layout that they hadn't released to the community. I am not really sure what I can take from this session!! 

I was also a bit disappointed of how many workshops were based on changes and uses in Moodle 1. I was part of the programme committee and read the abstracts but didn't notice these and assumed that unless the sessions were about 'upgrading' they would be based on a Moodle 2.x considering this has been available for 2 years now!

Chatting to various people throughout the days it is clear to see the range of skills and expertise in the room.  I watched Michelle's 'Why Moodle' Pecha Kucha and thought 'we are all convinced and already use Moodle' but I did find that there were a number of people looking to move to Moodle so this did have a place at the event.  However, for me, I wanted more sessions on application in teaching and learning.  Maybe streams of content would be useful such as beginners / new to Moodle; developing use for learning / advanced; technical; heavy customisation.

As I have mentioned, the Moodlemoot continues to be THE place to look at developments for the use of Moodle and this year has not let me down. I have picked up some new ideas for supporting learning using Moodle as well as further developed some plans already in action or ways to use something in a different way.  Even if some of the workshops are not always that relevant, having a couple of days to devote thoughts to Moodle helps to develop use and that has certainly been the case for me.  I have a big Moodle jobs list to get going on.....

MoodleMoot IE 2013 - part 2

Workshop day 1 had lots of nice things to think about and use.  Michelle Moore's workshop outlined how she has developed her Moodle training course to meet the social constructivist model of teaching.  I realised that this is a model I use for the development of my Moodle courses without realising!  However, there are other elements I want to look at building into future courses to develop this further.

Theming was also a big feature of the sessions I went to (largely because I want to look at a new theme for us).  Bootstrap seems to be the tool of choice for developing themes now and I have lots of ideas for development for our future themes.  In his first session, Alex Walker talked about the content of the theme and a few tools that were used to review current themes to inform development such as a heatmap to show where users click. (He showed us ClickHeat and Piwik for heatmaps and analytics).  Alex provided further advice on this topic on day 2 (but of a more technical nature).  Linked to this theme development, City College London presented a Pecha Kucha on usability testing and undertook a number of tests to get feedback from users on how Moodle is used, frustrations and most useful features.  This was used to inform development.  One piece of advice that was given though was that prior to undertaking a review, decide which elements you are willing to change and which you are not.  Future proof yourself for upgrades without the need for lots of changes for each new version.  
User testing and feedback to inform development of our theme is something I definitely want to undertake in the next few months.

Pieter Van Der Hijden delivered a presentation highlighting the options for Moodle maintenance and archiving.  Although it would have been nice to be given an answer, we can't find a one size fits all approach within our organisation so I guess it's impossible to do this across all Moodle sites.  We have a protocol for use at the moment but I think the key message here is to continually review your processes and work with other staff in your organisation to ensure you know what the requirements and future access to archived courses are.

The Pecha Kucha sessions were good providing a quick overview of lots of new ideas! Two of real interest for me were '10 things you can do with roles' from Moodle Helen.  Lots of ideas such as giving students editing or moderator rights to activities (such as glossaries, forums & quizzes). Giving students grading rights to assignments as a form of peer assessment if the workshop tool is too difficult to develop.  A naughty student role was even mentioned to temporarily remove privileges in Moodle!
Another Pecha Kucha was from Mid Kent College who talked about their ILP block.  They support their students with tools such as a flight plan and showing achievement on the ILP as badges.  The ILP collates all the 'minutes late' and the students need to 'buy back' the time!

A new 'panel' based concept was held called the 'fishbowl'.  A few people start having a discussion (in this case efficiencies with Moodle) and there are places for 5 people.  Anyone can come up and add to the discussion and one of the current panel leaves.  This is a nice way to share good practice and I will try this in the future.

Gaming in Moodle was another very interesting session and something I really want to try.  I think Moodle activities with activity completion can be used to develop games based on levels. Paul Vaughan has given me the idea of linking it to the LRC induction. I am going to give this a go!! 

Wednesday morning started with an update from Martin Dougiamas (live this time instead of via Skype as usual).  Twitter is the best place to look for the content of this session from a range on moodlers (#mootie13).  Martin showed the developments so far of the Moodle app and talked about the coming developments for Moodle 2.5 and 2.6.  These include new core themes, course listings redesigned, assignments further developed (better GUI, offline on mobile), and they are continuing to review the forum and wiki from OU. 
Also, there will be new app based plugins which will be able to be downloaded and installed straight from Moodle plugins site.

Martin concluded his presentation to summarise his vision of the 'Future of Moodle'.  This includes:
- A system that is open yet private
- It should scale & extend easily 
- Capable toolset for local implementation, research
- Contributes to community and further development

One of the real benefits of having Martin here in person is that he has been able to contribute to general conversations rather than just provide  an overview and Q&A. Also, general conversations help to understand his vision and he is constantly bringing the system back to the learning which is always positive.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

MoodleMoot IE 2013

It is time for my annual blog!  
I spent yesterday in a Moodle Assessment workshop delivered by Mary Cooch.  Her session provided a lot of detail of the various tools that can be used for a range of assessment opportunities including formative, peer and summative.  The use of the ratings functions for teacher and student use provide a range of opportunities for assessment.  It could also enable a good starting point for developing collaboration and peer review and help students to consider the quality of the work they submit and review the quality of others.  This is something I will look into for study skills development.
Other areas covered within the session were the Gradebook and outcomes, the new assignment tool in 2.4, rubrics and marking guides and using quizzes.  This was all promoted as part of a reality TV show which was a good way to enable the delegates to join in and make their own version.  Throughout the session Mary encouraged the delegates to discuss uses of each of the tools.  One area I think I am going to consider again is the use of outcomes.   Generally I don't like them for the simple reason that they do not present well in the Gradebook.  We had some discussion about outcomes versus rubrics.  I think there is a good place for both.  Rubrics are self-contained criteria within the assignment or workshop tool whereas the outcomes can be considered course, or even site, wide.  I am going to trial the use of just 3 outcomes in a course to link to core themes that should be part of all programmes.  An outcome for English, Maths and Employability will be created to state how assignments and tasks help to develop these skills.  It will highlight to the students how their core programme links to these skills and help us to review a course using the outcomes report to ensure all elements are being covered throughout.  I have a teacher willing test so we can build this in quickly after half-term to see what happens!

As a result of being in Mary's session I had re-read my book to refresh my memory.  I had forgotten how much I knew about the uses of the Gradebook and the options for customising it (although I am in no way an expert!)   Also, I had the pleasure to have a quick discussion with Martin Dougiamas before the quiz in the evening and he mentioned that I should put together a top 10 things to improve on the Gradebook.  The only two I can think of off the top of my head is 1) to turn the activity titles to present vertically rather than horizontally to make the Gradebook columns as thin as possible and 2) adapt the gradebook to utilise the full page width rather than fit inside a frame on the page.  Any way to help to reduce the horizontal scroll would be good.  However, I will have a good play to see if there are any others or let me know anything you can think of!  
For me, the use of the activity and course completion reports with the Gradebook from Moodle 2 really helps to encourage gradebook use and really helps students and teachers to review and track progress to aid learning.  The role of assessment in the future of online learning also featured in the opening panel discussion on day 1 of the official moot.

5 panel members gave a brief overview on their views of the future of online learning followed by delegates sharing their input.  Key messages shared included:

Martin Dougiamas: The use of social media can only be considered as surface learning.  It doesn't provide the deeper learning required.  Still a place for formal and certificated learning (whether online or face to face). Computer aided learning has the possibility to provide opportunities to learn more & be more efficient.  Things change and there will always new ways of learning.  "Before moocs there were books" (new phrase of the day!) We shouldn't forget about the important role that teachers play in online learning.  

Smith - Hibernian College: As learners we want credentials and to be part of a community.

Ross McKenzie: There is a lot of activity of traditional online learning and moocs.  The future is in assessment.  Monitoring and tracking. Accrediting what students are doing.  

Michelle Moore: Assessment, automation, adapting to learners needs (based on performance and / or interest) are all important to the future.

My view!! Education is about developing the knowledge and skills to use a range of learning tools - including online learning.   Teachers need to utilise all tools to provide a range of learning opportunities.  Online learning will continue to develop if only to provide additional opportunities for learning (but I think it will continue to develop as part of the core learning programme and has real potential to offer differentiated learning).  As online learning becomes more embedded into daily life we need to develop the skills of our younger learners to use the social media tools to learn 'on demand' and effectively access just in time training. We can use online learning linked with traditional teaching to develop learning skills AND offer efficient delivery to support student personal interest.

2 days of workshops follow to learn from others about how they use Moodle.  More to come on some specific things I have found interesting and will be looking to apply.