Last week was MoodleMoot UK & Ireland, an annual conference which sees the sharing of ideas and inspiration, that was on this occasion hosted in London.
There was a lot to take away from this conference, and you’ll find some useful links at the end of this post. This includes a link to a Storify of all my Tweets, which is my new note-taking method. I simply find it more useful to Tweet what I would otherwise note, and then gather them together afterwards, then to keep isolated notes in Evernote or OneNote. If you would like to seek out more from the Twitter conversation that took place then you can search with the hashtag #mootieuk16.
In this blog post I want to focus on the key theme I noticed from the conference and also talk a little bit about some of the cool uses for Moodle tools that I saw demonstrated.
So, what was the biggest take away, the key theme that kept popping up in presentations and keynotes? Analytics, consult, refine, improve, repeat! Over and over again I heard about the importance of using analytics to highlight areas we can improve upon, be they system analytics on which Moodle features as most (or least) used at our institutions, or learning analytics to identify how we might put in technological or human solutions to help improve the learning experience of our students. Once we have identified the areas to target, it is then all about consulting with users, which could mean staff and/or students, to find out exactly what they want from the system. This all then leads to the need to refine what is feasible (within the limits of technology, resources and budget) before carrying out improvements. Perhaps though, it is the repeat part of this equation that is most important to remember. It is no good to carry out improvements of our systems and then sit back feeling happy with a job well done. It is about reflecting on what we have done before starting the cycle over again. With the rapid pace of technology it is important to always be honing what we offer, and reviewing how we use it. What can be done more efficiently? What can be replaced? Of course this is all much easier said then done, in reality there are a couple of major restraints on all of this (budget and resources, which in turn are limited by budget). However, it was clear from the conference and talking to those present that this need to review and improve is key to a happier use of not just Moodle, but any technology. I think it is also important to remember that the message isn’t just about enhancing what you have, it is about evaluating first then based on that information carrying our required improvements. Change for a purpose, not for its own sake.
Moving on from the key theme I’d like to quickly looks at some of the clever use of tools I saw at MoodleMoot. Perhaps one of the simplest aspects of the conference, but often one of the most valuable, is just the ability to see alternate ways other people are using common Moodle tools. My favourites from this year include the Moodle lesson tool and forums.
For the Moodle lesson tool I was really inspired by Lewis Carr’s (@lewiscarr) talk on using the lesson tool instead of creating SCORM packages. By using a tool built into Moodle you are reducing the complications and the room for error. I also thought this could be a really useful tool to use to help teach storyboarding as a pedagogic approach. By getting tutors to sit down and plan out a Moodle lesson in a storyboard format, you could encourage them to think more creatively about the lesson, and to visualise it in a more holistic way. I have always found when using the Moodle lesson activity that sitting down and planning out the structure of the lesson, (quizzes, branching, pages etc) on paper before doing anything in Moodle to be really helpful. So why not expand upon this idea to run a workshop on storyboarding from a pedagogical perspective? If you’d like to see more of Lewis Carr’s presentation, ‘How I learned to stop worrying about SCORM and love the Moodle Lesson Activity’, you can do some on the MoodleMoot IE UK site.
Another presentation that excited me was by Rx Islam from Floream (@floreamedtech), and her presentation about, ‘Using Core Moodle Tools for Collaborative Learning‘ (also available from the MoodleMoot IE UK site). I really liked the creative ways that she described using the Moodle forum tool for peer assessment (all protected and arranged by the clever use of Moodle groups) and as a glossary. Despite the fact that Moodle has a dedicated glossary tool, by using the Moodle forum it was easily searchable (Moodle has a forum search tool) and it also utilised a tool that students were already familiar with. The Moodle forum is also a good tool to use because it is fairly straightforward and easy to understand, which can be a benefit over other tools, that may be more tailored but could also involve more of a learning curve. Personally I found it enlightening to think about using the tool that students were already familiar with rather than the tool most designed for the task. It makes sense and I feel slightly embarrassed for not thinking in those terms sooner, however I will be considering tools students have already been using more often when making recommendation in Moodle.
More information on all of the presentations, including recording can be found from the MoodleMoot IE UK site.
My notes, in the form of all of my tweets, re-tweets and interactions can be found on Storify.