Is Moodle Causing Stagnation in Education?

A couple years ago I helped implement Moodle at my school in Chennai, India.  In 2012, they decided to transition from a god-awful Sharepoint site to Moodle for their LMS, Learning Management System.

This was a great decision back then and to implement the plan I had to dive into Moodle.  To teach myself this new system, I watched countless youtube movies and just clicked around until I was familiar with most of its many features.  The thing is that Moodle easily gets confusing because there is too much functionality.  When I gave my weekly Moodle PD sessions, the teachers would groan and roll their eyes… saying “God why do we have to learn this.”

Moodle has a big learning curve.  Most teachers just don’t have enough time to really discover its potential uses.  They are too busy coming up with creative lessons to spend hours editing their Moodle courses.  It’s clunky, it doesn’t always work perfectly and most school Moodle sites are pretty ugly.  And despite being such a versatile tool, I think it leads to stagnation of content and instruction.

To get teachers to use Moodle, it has to be a mandatory requirement.  Most teachers would not use Moodle if they had a choice.  It just takes too much time to learn and build courses.  But once a teacher builds a course, it’s there for years to come.  Teachers put so much effort into putting their material on Moodle and creating quizzes, that they rarely ever want to go back in a modify it.

I believe that successful teaching and learning needs to be dynamic.  For me it’s a continual work in progress as I tweak lessons, update material and personalize my course to the needs of my students.

When comparing Learning Management Systems, Google Classroom supports contemporary learning much better than Moodle.  You build your course as you go in Google Classroom, allowing a better opportunity to personalize your course.  You can reuse old posts from previous courses in Google Classroom, but just going through and choosing those old posts will help you decided what you should keep and what to change.




An Interactive Art Show

Last year for the Middle School Art show, students made their artwork come alive with the Morfo App and Aurasma.  This year we are going to do it again.  However, instead of the teacher uploading all the Trigger images and Overlays, we are going to have the students do this.

Here is a video tutorial on how to create a Morfo movie with the iPad.

Here is a tutorial on how they will upload a picture and their morfo movie to Aurasma.

Let’s see if my middle schoolers can follow directions.

Check our Our E-Portfolio Blogs

This year I had big dreams about vamping up our reflective E-Portfolio blog program.  E-Portfolios are something that we have been doing at AISC for a long time.  Two years ago though,  things really improved by moving our kids from a Google site/ artifact based E-Portfolio to a reflective/ Blogger E-Portfolio.  This switch aligned the program with our vision and mission and the E-Portfolios have now become an wonderful way to keep track of student growth during their time here at AISC.

Originally teachers would pick what projects appeared on the blogs and typically the same projects were showcased in each child’s E-Portfolio Google site.  Now with blogs, students are encourage to reflect about their learning instead of reflecting on a project or artifact.  This learning might be something they are proud about, something that challenged them or maybe a reflection of how their learning changed.  Students and teachers still have a long way to go for the vision of this program to become a reality. Many students often write about the same projects because their teacher tells them to do so or they write exactly what happened in class (their posts are not always reflective).

In an attempt to get students more excited about this great reflective learning exercise, I decided to do a couple of experiments with motivation.  My first idea was to pair up 6th and 8th graders to do blogging buddies during their STEM projects.  I paired up students who were doing similar projects in the hopes that they could learn from each other by commenting.  This failed terribly.  Students were not held accountable by their teachers for commenting because it was seen as something extra.  They were given no time to comment in class and weren’t intrinsically motivated to write comments on each others blogs.  Students were blogging because they had to.

My second attempt was to get parents and family members involved in the commenting.  I held a session as the last middle school Parent Coffee.  I created this nice informational brochure.  I thought it would be such a great way for families to become involved in their child’s learning.  I hoped family members from far away would comment on the blogs (this was the “redefinition” part of my plan).  The family commenting initiative, however, failed miserably too.  I sent the parents emails to remind them to comment and checked the student blogs frequently to see if there was any commenting by parents.  Parents were not leaving any comments.  Maybe they were too busy.  My hopes of motivating the kids to become reflective learners through blogging were dashed.

So, today, as I was browsing around the student E-porfolio’s wallowing in my failure, I decided to try one more thing.  When I came across a blog that looked pretty good, I emailed the student asking if I could share it out to other educators and students.  I received a bunch of enthusiastic replies from students saying “Sure!”  and “Thanks for the compliments” and “Thanks for looking at my blog.”  I took Jeff’s “redefinition”  advice and I posted these E-Portfolio blog links to twitter with the hashtags #comments4kids #edchat #eportfolio #COETAIL and #edtech in hopes that they would get a little traffic and maybe a comment.  Here are the links to the E-Portfolio blogs I shared out.  If you are reading this, PLEASE, click on one and leave a thought provoking comment, or some words or encouragement.

Let’s see if this last try can make a little bit of difference these student’s motivation levels around reflective blogging.


Learning from my Mistakes

I was just on Twitter and came across this page from @cybraryman1 “Learning from Mistakes” and love it.   This idea of reflecting about your mistakes really resonates with me and I want to create a whole series of blog posts like this.

So, in the past week, I have been interviewing with Jakarta International School for their MS tech coach position.  I’ve had three successful interviews so far and I am praying that I get offered the position.  During these interviews, many of the questions were about challenges and failures I have had in my career.  Though it was hard to talk about past mistakes, I realized that I have become better at my job because of these mistakes.

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

Mistakes are our best learning tools because they happen to us first hand.  Sure you can learn from the mistakes of others, and hopefully you will because you just can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.  But when they are your mistakes, they hit home, they change you and effect you.  Whether these mistakes are personal or professional, they always help you grow as a person if you admit your mistake and think how you could do things differently next time.

I’m definitely not perfect and I make mistakes all the time.  No one is perfect and people don’t want to work with people that think they are.  So embrace your mistakes, and share them with others so they can learn from you.

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

Simple Steps to Setting Up the Moodle Gradebook

Make sure the Gradebook is enabled in the Course Settings by clicking Edit settings in the course administration menu on the side.

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Then scroll down until you see Show Gradebook to students and select YES and save changes

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Now Click on Grades on the Course Settings Menu

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Click on Categories and Items

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 Click on Add Category

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Enter a Unit of Study or a type of assessment (test, lab, assignment) into the Category name field. Keep simple weighted mean of grades for now.  You can experiment with other settings later.

Click on Save Changes

Keep adding all of your units this way.

 To add Assignments, get back to your course page and Turn on Editing.

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Add an assignment to a section by click on Add an Activity or Resource.

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Click Assignment under ACTIVITIES. Fill out the assignment details.  In the Grades section, select the Category the assignment falls under

For detailed directions on how to add an assignment check out the video below.

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If you put the assignment into Moodle, you can give feedback online to students. Students can also keep track of assignments they have turned in and ones they still need to complete.  Moodle sends automatic assignment reminders when new assignments are created.

The next blog post will talk about the AISC MS Grading Scale

“Doesn’t Meet Expectations, Beginning to Meet Expectations, Approaching Expectations, Meets Expectations”

Something that will take us one step closer to standards-based reporting.

Please follow or check back soon.