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.