Wednesday, January 11, 2006

First Lessons Learned in Moodle

Day one of Moodling was a success. I assigned my students the following tasks:
  • Log in
  • Go into the Journal course so you can write back to me in your journal
  • Go into the Science course and take the quiz
  • Go into the forum and tell us what you are looking forward to doing on our environmental ed trip next week.
  • If you have time, go into the chat room and chat with your classmates
Here's what I learned...
  • You can moodle in Mac OS 8.x. However, the screens don't render correctly. This isn't insurmountable once you know where to look for things, but it is a bother. The biggest rendering problem we've encountered thus far is that in the journaling forum, the header above the topics is completely jumbled and covering the link to the topics themselves so you have to wave the mouse around until the cursor turns into a hand, otherwise you can't find the link.

  • In OS 8.1 the chat feature works. In OS 8.0, the browser keeps trying to take us to the plug in download page, but not finding what it wants. I suspect it needs Flash which isn't compatible with 8.0.

  • I didn't give clear enough directions regarding the journaling, so some students started new topics rather than replying to the message I had written to them.

  • In the quiz module, I watched some students take the quiz, but nothing was recorded for them in the grade book. Possibly they aren't submitting their answers.

  • In the forum, if they reply to someone else's response rather than hitting the reply link on the original topic, they are not given credit for responding in the grade book.

  • As the teacher, you can read ALL the comments made in the chat room, even after the event. Although I had laid down guidelines about the chatroom's use, a few students went over to the dark side. They will be surprised when they discover that even though I was busy helping students while they chatted, I still know what they said.

  • All of the students really seemed to enjoy the journaling. Most of them do not spend time online at home and don't have their own email, so this is a novel experience for them.

  • The students greatly enjoyed chatting. One of my struggling readers who rarely reads voluntarily, read the chat messages as they appeared for twenty minutes. He only managed a few comments; I suspect the chat was streaming by too quickly for him to keep up. However, anything that gets this child to want to read has great merit in my book.
My next goals are to get the rest of the students in the grade level into the Moodle and the correct courses. Then I can really put it to work. However, it's mid-terms time and then we are off to camp for a week, so my progress may be slow.