Sonia Foote is a teacher at the Mangakino Area School in New Zealand, where she teaches Science, Biology, and Human Biology to years 9 to 13.
Sonia has been working on and trialling with Junior Science and Level 3 Biology students her Moodle site and resources, which she has been designing and building over the last few weeks. It has quite a journey as she has been working out the most effective design to use as well as how to actually create a course in Moodle. At every step of the way, Sonia has been asking for evaluation from her students, and with this feedback she can't go far
Her Level 3 biology students have jumped straight into Moodle. One student in particular has used Moodle in the past with a math teacher/course and was extremely positive about the experience, saying that students really enjoyed math with this teacher and using Moodle. Such was this student's enthusiasm, she jumped into Moodle as soon as she got her log in and was trying out all the quizzes, and activities. The other students have followed suit.
With Sonia's Junior Science students, however, it has been rather frustrating as students found it tricky to copy the URL from the board, and as most of the students don't have working email she couldn't send them the link and log in details. Once everyone had typed in the correct URL, worked out their user name and password, and accessed the course, they then relied on her to tell them where to go - even though she had shown them, prior to going to the computer lab, what the Moodle site looked like, and what they could do there.
From my experiences with students I have always found it necessary to allocate the first couple of sessions to helping students log in, and work out for themselves how best to use the environment for their learning. I've discovered that it may take up to a month before learners gain in confidence and become more self-directed. The students will get there, though. A screen capture video of the login process might be a useful way having a reminder for students, and to save teachers from having to repeat the same information many times over.
Sonia has been focussing putting logical groups of resources together in the topic areas of Moodle, and has used a range of media and activities to help engage students and to work towards meeting the needs of a variety of students' learning styles. She is also keen to build on the interactivity for students that she already has within the course, and is planning to ask students to use a more inquiry-based approach (using the wiki in Moodle), and working towards getting students to create some of the content/exemplars for future students.
Find out how to use Moodle
If you are interested in finding more out about how to use Moodle, you may find the following resources useful:
- VIDEOS: Shawn Brandt has created over 30 demonstration screencast videos around how to use Moodle
- VIDEOS: Moodle for NZ Schools also have a range of screencasts
- READING: A beginners guide to Moodle (nicely formatted): http://issuu.com/m.unsy/docs/moodle_beginners_guide.
- FLASH Videos: These are really clear videos (but you'll need Flash
player installed on your machine, and they are specific to the ISU -
same actions, just looks slightly different): http://courses.isucomm.iastate.edu/course/view.php?id=698. They also have a downloadable .pdf that is worth looking at: http://courses.isucomm.iastate.edu/file.php/698/Moodle_Guide_2009.pdf.
- PRINT or read online: This one is slightly more advanced, but much more thorough - Moodle 1.8 Teacher Manual: https://moodle.sbc.edu/mod/resource/view.php?id=8087