Moodle CMS: A Recipe for School Use

Why Bother ?  
What comes first ?
  • Stage 1: Admin takes responsibility for online provision of comprehensve continually-updated school admin info online.
    • Staff no longer have to keep myriad of memos, procedures, foms - online version of all policies, procedures and forms are the latest and are organised in clear coherent manner (e.g. wiki)
    • Can check on all school committees and activity in any KLA groups from single site.
    • Get a daily email digest of links to all site changes in courses that are relevant to them.  Most staff keep these emails so it forms a searchable memo history.
    • Painless "at your own pace" personal intro into ICT use with moodle BEFORE it hits their classrooms 
    • E.g.
  • Stage 2: All courses with network folder accessible from within and outside school.
    • Minimum requirement is to have up-to-date cousre syllabus in each folder
    • Staff ultise the folders for additional course documentation if they wish. Most commonly for assignment instructions, homework sheets, lists of suggest internet research sites.
    • Painless "at your own pace" personal intro into digital documentatio.
    • Pressure build "naturally" on staff as:
      • early adopters reveal how they can reduce their personal celrical admin by providing online copies to students (plus encourage student responsibility and self management)
      • early adopters are praised by students and often parents and occassionally they are asked "why don't you do it ?"

      • Stage 3: Parents are told that all course network folders will contain all course documentation haneded out in class
        • Students can check course requirments anytime anywhere (e.g.iphone)
        • Students can retreive any docuement that they might have lost
          Students can see what they have submitted (or not !) whther it is digital or not as can see the teachers response (e.g. comment or assessment
        • Student excitement of being in forefront (boasting to other students, boasting to parents just like having latest model phone, they feel cool) 
        • Very challenging step for staff.  I never acheived this at Cheltenham Secondary College over 5 years.  Main issues:
          • So many new initiatives forced onto school through the line manager (principal) that staff were continually overloaded and space for any "local" initiative that we "don't have to" do was limited.
          • Staff were uncomfortable making any assurance to parents about their performance
          • Staff were worried that differences in course operation between teachers being used for negative feedback.  I believe that this should be viewed as an opportunity for improvement.  If the best practices are highly visible and well documented, then it is more likely to affect all teachers. 
      Remember that the objective is to improve teaching and learning - using ICT/ moodle where it aceives this.  The objective is NOT to encouarge the use of ICT/ moodle..... essential distinction to be repaeted as often as possible.
      One of the main reasons for the resistance to education innovation from experienced teachers (so frequently dismissed by school and government leaders as "old") is their recognition of faddism - i.e. innovations that are promoted with such shallow rationale as "new" "comtemporary" "relavent" or even "fun""cool" "entertaining".
      Often, people with high responsibility use no more than but propoganda and staff evaluation goal to justify programs.  Experienced and intelligent teachers need a more convincing and rational argument.

      While waiting for Stage 3, there is still an enormous amount that can be done to encourage and assist early adopters to encouarge uptake of effective teaching and learning practices. 
      • Stage 2.1: Staff assisted and encouraged to use course features that provide personal and two way communication
        • forums:  The most powerful and flexible moodle feature...
          • mulitple forum types
        • assignments
        • choices
        • questionnaire
        • wiki
        • message system
      • Stage 2.3: Add functionality to moodle so that it assists students, teachers, parents and even administrators with their daily work
        • Any way that moodle can help people will make them more sympathetic to other possibilities that require some commitment.  moodle helps me ..... I am willing to spend some time learning to use it.
        • At cheltenham, through excellent technical support staff, we introduced features such as:
          • calendar list view
          • daily email digest reformat
          • online student reports - all student reports as pdf documents stored within an assignment viewable securely by the student and all teachers
          • student timetables
          • staff extras
          • student observation recording
          • ePortfolio - esp for the MIPS programHope that mahara  portfolio integration will be a better replacement than this but worry that it may be over complex when it comes to extracting reports on all students.
          • calender subscription (through Microsoft Outlook)
          • online archives - photo galleries back to 1965 using Gallery 2 intergration into moodle
        • This was not done all at once.  Users understand, use and appreciate new helpful features much more if they are rolled out one at a time with a decent ineterval between. 
          If they are all there at once anyway, then it can even be a good strategy to pomote them sequentially (if early adopters discover them before the announcement, then this viral marketing can be even more important, as teachers tend to trust fellow teachers more than "IT people"

        • DON'T use
          • mandated proformas:  guides and helpful examples are great but if you are introducing and encourageing new initiatives, to say that you KNOW how to do it best and it MUST be done this way is a sure recipe for turning away the very people that you wan=t as users - the innovative, uncontrollable expermenters...
          • mandated assessment within moodle:  Moodle assessment does not connect to the Victorian State Government mandated assessment and reporting software so anything that you mandate in moodle is an addon. 
            Some staff(especially in senior classes) will find the ability to use assignments as communication with tsudnets and parnets invaluable.
            Most staff are stressing at trying to cope with the ludicrous number of reporting fileds that have to be filled in on the governmemt software.  they do not need or want nay more !

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        This post contains some responses to questions that I have been asked by various people over the last few years. In most cases, I have also posted the information on relevant online community forums such as I hope that you find this useful. Stephen Digby