Thursday, 21 November 2013

Moodle Course and Teacher Blog Posts

As was outlined in earlier "Major Digital Project" posts, one of the main goals of the Teaching with Technology workshops was to:
  • Explore, plan and implement a technology tool to support an instructional strategy or outcome. The model will support selecting, evaluating, and reflecting on the teacher’s plan.
  •  Share the successes, challenges, and implementation of the strategy or additional technology integration as a community of learners through a series of blog posts and reflections.  
Our hope was to make the learning process of the teacher participants visible, and to provide a supportive collaboration space for teachers to share their project experience.  Our division made an upgrade to Moodle over the summer, so in our planning we decided we wanted to try out some of the Moodle blogging features.  In planning the session we began by creating a Teaching with Technology section on our Moodle site.  We then enabled the blog block for the Teaching with Technology course.

During our session we introduced the teachers to the SECTIONS model for evaluating technology tools.  The sections model is divided into four parts: Define, Assess, Implement, and Refine.  Our plan is to have teachers submit a blog post for each of these four parts as they work through their project.

Participants were given time during the workshop to complete their first post.  In this post they answered the following questions related to the Define component of the sections model:
  • I really want students to learn...
  • I think I could be more effective in facilitating this learning if...
  • The learning activity that I've chosen to address these objectives is...
  • The technology I'm thinking of using to support this learning activity...
Teachers were also asked to attach the Assess Checklist document to the first post.  The Assess Checklist document was the checklist teachers used based on the SECTIONS model to evaluate their chosen technology tool.  Displayed below are a couple of examples of initial blog entries made by participants.

Sample blog Post 1
Sample Assess Checklist

As teachers work on their class projects they will be asked to submit two more blog posts.  The second blog post will address the Implement portion of the SECTIONS model.  Teachers will complete this post while they are actively implementing the project with students.  In this post teachers will respond to the following questions:

  • In observing the students engaging with this activity, I notice...
  • The technology I have chosen is enabling the learning because...
  • The technology I have chosen is a barrier to learning because...
  • Feedback from students about this technology is...

  • Sample Blog Post 2

    A final post teachers will be asked to submit will be for the Refine part of the SECTIONS model.  In this section teachers will be asked to consider future changes or improvements.  During this stage teachers will reflect upon:
    • What worked?
    • What didn't work and why?
    • I need to change...
    • My plan to make this change is...

    Final Blog Post

    Leanne and I have begun the dialogue in this area by commenting on participants' first blog posts.  We plan to encourage teachers to support each other in this space by viewing and commenting on the posts of other participants.  Participants in future sessions will also get the opportunity to view and comment on all participating teacher posts.  It is our hope that this will encourage sharing of ideas between teachers and help in our development of a technology fair.


    1. I think what you are doing here Dean is awesome. I like how you are using the blog tool in Moodle. Can students see these posts as well as teachers? I like your SECTIONS model where you have teachers blog their responses to questions under each these 4 parts (Define, Assess, Implement, and Refine) as they work through their projects.

      Is this workshop mandatory or optional for teachers. What % of your school teachers are participating?

      1. Thanks for the feedback Greg. We decided to use Moodle for the blogs because we are hoping to promote some of the features for classroom teachers so they may begin to incorporate them into their teaching. The Education Technology page is currently not a section students can enroll in, so the blog posts are not visible to them. We were really pleased to find the SECTIONs model, and so far the teachers have found it easy to use. Only a very small portion of RCS teachers will take part in this workshop this year. We had a small budget for offering professional development workshops and decided to create the Teaching with technology workshops. Our first session included seven participants. The next two sessions are at full capacity of 20 teachers each. Our hope is that the participating teachers will assist in our first attempt at an EdCamp.

    2. This is great stuff. I used to use Blackboard and Moodle. I experimented with OpenClass as well. None of these ever really caught on with other staff members and we never did have a full initiative to adopt a Learning Management System school wide. Google Apps seems to fill the gap as we already have PowerSchool for our Student Records System. I like the tools that Google offers for collaboration and I like how Communities and blogs work to create areas for discussion. I suppose the problem is understanding levels of privacy and keeping things internal when it comes to student blogging. Edublogs has been a good experience this year. I wonder if the RPS would consider implementing an LMS with our students. It certainly is a lot for people to learn! Great work at RCS!

    3. Thanks Jason! Regina Catholic switched to Moodle when Learning Village was no longer an option. Initially we used it primarily as a file repository. Over the last few years we have made upgrades and modifications in our use of Moodle at the system level. All curriculum related resources are housed on our Moodle site, and our online courses are taught through Moodle. Some teachers have incorporated Moodle in their classroom as a blended learning teaching approach. We still have a ways to go - we thought using Moodle for the blog component of our project would help promote and model how teachers could use this feature with students. Like you said, there really is a lot for people to learn. Thanks for your feedback.