Saturday, August 20, 2011

Moodle Implementation: A Sweet Success!

“If you wait until you are sure you will never take off the training wheels.”

Let me start by clarifying that I am NOT an IT person. I do not know HTML or PHP.  I do not speak any computer languages. I was the girl in the mid-eighties who couldn't get the darn turtle to make a square in DOS (if you remember this you are OLD!)

I can click.  I can also click and drag!  I also know how to right-click! Please don't ask me to know more than that about any new software or Web 2.0 tool (are they the same thing or different?)  And for the life of me my mind refuses to believe that a bunch of 1's and 0's create everything we see on a computer! Complete hogwash I say!

Despite this declaration, my co-school librarian (who is retiring this year) and I were charged with training the 100+ faculty members at my high school and junior high school in using Moodle (some who aren't quite as good at clicking and dragging).  Thus  it was and is my goal this year to teach Moodle in the most basic terms possible.  

I first started teaching myself Moodle mid way through the 2010-2011 school year.  I watched YouTube videos, visited sites like MoodleNews, MoodleMoot, and  To be honest, these sites did little to help me understand the bare bones basics of Moodle.  Most of these sites relay information that is on a administrative level and for which you must know more than clicking and dragging. The best assistance I have received onine is on Twitter using #moodle. Still, much of the information received via Twitter simply linked me to one of the sites mentioned above...
Here is a typical questions and response you will most likely get from one of the above mentioned Moodle "help" sites: 
Q: How do you mass upload enrolment keys for groups in Moodle? I already have groups created but not enrolment keys for each group.
A: One possibility is to export the MySQL table for groups, modify it in a dbase program (FMP) or spreadsheet (Excel) add the enrolment keys, then reimport into MySQL dbase for the Moodle. 
My response: ?????

We started implementation of  Moodle in early Spring of the last school year; piloting the program with one teacher from each discipline and of varying degrees of computer skill.   By doing this we would have a Moodle "expert" in each discipline as a go to person the following school year.  A "trainer" was brought in for a few hours and basically feed our group the book definitions of each item on a typical Moodle page.  When the "trainer" left none of us had a true functional understanding of how to use this new classroom management system that we were expected to fully implement in just a few short months.

I buckled down during summer vacation and learned via trial and error with a page that is now my main webpage for my library. (click on guest access)

Starting in July 2011 we began training our high school faculty by offering two 4 hour paid professional development days for teachers to learn Moodle and be ready to roll with when school began.  An assorted variety of bagels and coffee from Panera didn't hurt either!

Teachers are stretched beyond belief. They need to see a legitimate purpose for program implementation, see how it will benefit them, their students and the parents... and will be less work for them, not more. Oh.. it also must be easy to learn and  use.

One of the first question you must answer for teachers when implementing a new system is WHY...  For my school the questions were: Why are we doing this? We use Microsoft FrontPage. What's wrong with continuing to use that?  If we start using Moodle will we also have to keep doing FrontPage?  Will we have to do both?

My answers: Just like the 8 Track Tape so is Microsoft FrontPage...obsolete. Moodle will be our all in one public webpage and classroom management system.  We will be able to go paperless and take advantage of working in a school district where over 95% of our students have access to the Internet at home. Parents will be able to stay informed of classwork, homework, tests, etc. Best of all the old "dog ate my homework" excuse disappears!
Thus the training began using the "chunk and chew" PD method. I began the session by setting up a Bell Ringer activity to build background knowledge of Moodle, give teachers the chance to experience Moodle from a student perspective including self enrollment and give my co-librarian and I time to trouble shoot any technical issues that inevitably rear their ugly heads. (use guest log in and moodle as password).

After the Bell Ringer activity we:

  • Designed a public (guest access-no password) course page to replace the old Microsoft FrontPage. Mrs. Amy Robertson set up a great public course page:
  • Filled out our profile and added a picture to our profile.
  • Learned about Blocks
    • Calendar Block
    • HTML Block
  • Learned and applied "add a resource"
    • Specifically File, Folder, Label, and URL
    • When and why you would add each one to your Moodle page
  • Learned and applied "add an activity"
    • Here we focused strictly on "Assignments" and "Forums"
  • Learned about "buttons"
    • delete
    • move
    • edit
    • hide
  • Learned how to set our pages to allow or not allow guest access.
  • Learned how to enroll students either manually or self enroll.
  • Finished with an evaluation made in Survey Monkey and linked in our Moodle Training page. Thus informally demonstrating to teachers how other Web 2.0 tools can work with Moodle.
Teachers were obviously overwhelmed having their brains glutted in a small four hour time period with brand new information for which most had little or no background knowledge. Thus the most important part of any PD training especially when implementing a new program is follow up. Our follow up consists of the following services:
  • Have a question? Call or email us and we will come work with you right then if possible or during your next planning period.
  • Not sure how to set up your class assignments in Moodle? We will work with you on a collaborative activity designed in Moodle.  Then we will book a computer lab and co-teach the Moodle lesson with you. 
    • I have done this for the past two weeks.  I've had goosebumps and got misty eyed as I watched teachers go from insecure and hesitant about using Moodle to saying, "This isn't hard at all!" "Wow! The kids really like this and it is so easy!" and "I can't wait to put more of my lessons in Moodle!" We have even had teachers who were dead set against Moodle come around and say how much they like it now! Guess what? You CAN teach an old dog new tricks! 

  • Freebie Fridays: Once a month we offer PD sessions on Moodle.  Our first Freebie Friday will assist teachers in setting up groups among students enrolled and will help those who have not set up a student activity in Moodle to get one developed and ready to use in the next week or so.
  • Moodle Tips and Hints:  As we learn new details about Moodle we relay these to teachers via the PD page in the News Forum. We also disseminate the same information via Facebook and Twitter. 
    • By:
    • Like us on FaceBook
  • Lastly, I provide video tutorials via my collaboratively produced YouTube Channel:
    • My plan is to provide video tutorials beginning with the Bell Ringer activity all the way through to the Freebie Friday PD sessions.  Stay tuned!
*If you would like your classes to work on a collaborative project with some of our classes via Moodle let me know! That is the next big thing I am going to try to get our teachers to do via Moodle! We are a public AP/IB 10th -12th grade school.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nikki,

    This is a great plan and our district (about a year behind you) can get some ideas from this.