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Nives' endeavours as an English Teacher


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#MM9 – A reflection

The end of MM9 arrived Sunday December 11, 2016 and for the graduating alumni it was a wonderful ending after a month long [50 hours] professional development using Moodle for Teaching. The whole course designed, created by Dr Nellie Deutsch and managed on Integrating Technology -Moodle for Teachers site was an amazing experience. Not just for me but for all the participants in the Moodle course.

The Moodle has it’s own fascinating story which will not be dealt with here, but visit this page for more. Suffices to mention the acronym for Moodle – “modular object-oriented dynamic learning environment”. Whereupon we notice the all important word ‘learning’ and that is in essence the Moodle for use in today’s society and more importantly in Training and Education – more simply Facilitating Learning. Because that’s  what the moodle platform enhances without any doubt. An environment that facilitates learning be it professional training or simple courses for education, such as are English Grammar courses.

Let me get back to the very important topic at hand … MM9 – in my own experience it was a turning point in that it culminated into the finality of obtaining almost all the badges and final certificates that would be possible in any such course online. Including a special Presenter Certificate and Badge! The main presentation titled “Teaching Online with Moodle” was in conjunction with Thomas Hodgers (a constant colleague in online presentations during any Moodle Mooc with Dr Nellie Deutsch). The almost being for moderator … in my honest opinion and from past experience – being a moderator and teacher in training cannot possibly be carried out to its full potential if you have any normal existence. The hours involved are many and do not preclude time for dilly-dallying if the weekly tasks and activities and responding to ALL the participants need to get done in time. Sometimes those participants reach the thousands!

The whole course unfolded over five intense weeks of online work to complete set activities and tasks within a weekly time frame. Most of the tasks in this MM9 were ‘easier’ as it required making a video of one’s exercise in carrying out the tasks. Easier because it cut down time on preparing slides which then needed to be turned into audio visual presentations, as was the case in previous Moodle courses. The 3rd and 4th week were carried out in collaboration with set teams (set by the system but with the ability to change and join another team) this though proved to be as difficult as it is easy to fathom.

Why?
Well firstly because creating a Team may not seem difficult, but getting that team to communicate within a set time frame and complete activities with (in our Group B team) three diverse time zones. Add to that personal and professional work commitments outside the moodle. In fact the Moodle 3.1 site offers many advantages of setting up teams and working separately to other teams, that is each team has the possibility to communicate in a common forum without ‘seeing’ the other groups or teams working within the same moodle and access to the exact same forum. This is an amazing tool for a Teacher that does not need to go far when keeping an eye on all students in groups in one unique forum area. Also the amazing tracking system of the moodle enhances the Teacher’s own control of the students within a moodle for education.

Rounding up the Team experience brought about many conclusions and highlighted some areas which need to be ‘polished’ for teachers to work well and co-ordinate their online collaboration. Areas which can well be adapted to Teachers understanding the needs of their students in their own future moodle courses. We must succumb to the idea that online teaching and learning can only be carried out effectively with Teachers themselves understanding the mechanics of the rudimentary elements of working online and within a group. It will only ensure that when a teacher has had to go through the same motions that the student will eventually have to process then it can only benefit both Teacher and Students. After all most Teachers that have been teaching for at least 10 years have not had any experience with fast forward moving (& mobile) technology or LMS [Learning Management Systems] in their own learning. Most likely their learning involved very little use of technology at best a computer (for preparing essays, reports, etc.) overhead projector in lecture theatres, computer assisted library research and perhaps some online digital experience. This is only a generalization and it is sure that some were much luckier and had access to more modern technology for the year 2000. Also the use of emails and search engines did already exist, but how many of those at University in the late 1990’s actually relied upon the internet….? Not many I’ll bet.

The outline of the Moodle Mooc 9 course:
Overview of the Syllabus; Live Online classes (weekly webinars plus opening and closing webinars)
Week 1 – Introduction (learning about each other) & Video Tutorials
Week 2 – Course Design with Resources and Activities
Week 3 – Blocks available to a Moodle Course Manager
Week 4 & 5 – Collaborative Course Design
Bonus tasks – Manager of a Moodle 3.1 site (activities over and above the usual completion for certificate – resulting in a Bonus certificate for those that were able to complete the extra activities).
Badges for every week and final Certificate for Teacher & Manager of a Moodle Course.
All the work carried out in the tasks and set activities was exported into files within an Exabis folder which every participant has the possibility of exporting onto their own computer or external drive.
The final week saw the presentation of each Group Team Showcasing their work in an online live event.

This amazing experience has fulfilled my own desire to complete and attain a more in depth understanding of using the Moodle for online Teaching. It is the next step in my curriculum to prepare a self paced language learning course within a Moodle site.

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Final Presentation slides on SlideShare