Saturday, May 1, 2010

Moodling Through History

According to Winston Churchill, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” It’s exciting to learn about civilizations before us, but it can be even better to learn about those cultures in a hands-on, rich environment. The PBS resources from Egypt’s Golden Empire use multimedia tools and a variety of different activities to introduce the topic. Students work individually, in small groups, and as a whole class. They are challenged to think about the culture as they create projects on the topic. Looking at these resources got me wondering about how a teacher can best organize and implement all of the great activities they discover and develop throughout each school year. There are so many resources we can use to teach about important topics like, say, ancient Egypt, but it can be a challenge to disseminate all the material to students, check for understanding, and effectively manage group discussions on the topic. This, in turn, got me thinking about an email I received earlier this week.

“Calling all Moodlers! Join us for a MoodleMoot to see what Moodle can do for you!” What? Are any of you understanding this foreign language? If these terms are new to you, you might want to check out Moodle It’s a popular open-source learning management system (read: free-learning software platform to help you run your class.) Moodle lets you, the teacher, create a dynamic website for your students. In case you were wondering, it stands for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment…Moodle is just a lot easier to say! Since its creation in Austraila, Moodle has spread widely around the world to schools in over 200 countries. Many teachers are using Moodle to supplement the learning in traditional classrooms, but it is used to support virtual classrooms as well.

Some teachers like to use Moodle simply as a means to deliver online instructional tools like lessons and quizzes and other course-related resources and information to their students. Others use more of Moodle’s tools to create a community of collaboration and discussion in the classroom. Some of these collaborative tools include forums, blogs, wikis, and databases. Using these tools can help you create a private classroom environment that is similar to the types of online environments many of them spend a lot of time in outside of school.

Moodle is a part of the IMS Global Learning Consortium, a group of companies working to improve education through the strategic use of technology. It is part of a growing number of quality open-source tools teachers can use, which is especially important in today’s economy. Districts are not able to budget money for expensive technology, so we need to be searching for good, free tools like this.

Ask around to see if any of your colleagues are using Moodle in their classes. You may be able to try out their site to see how well it is working in their class, and see if it is a tool that will be beneficial to you. If you don’t know anyone who is using it, you can log in as a guest to experiment with the demonstration site. If you are currently using Moodle and you have comments you would like to share with us, please let us know. We will continue the conversation on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Gateway to 21st Century Skills is a project of JES & Co., a company who is a contributing member of the IMS Global Learning Consortium. Moodle is also a contributing member of this consortium that has the goal of improving education and learning through technology. Working together, educators and education-minded businesses like these will help our students excel in the 21st century.

~Peggy's Corner - 5/1/2010~

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