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We have been experimenting with Moodle and so far the results are impressive.

1) It is easy to put quizzes and tests online and collect in the marks automatically. (Yes I know quizzes and tests are the same thing, but don't you dare tell my pupils <_<:)

2) It is easy to put resources online so pupils can access them at home or in the town library.

3) Pupils enjoy using forums. To start off with there were some off-topic postings but they seem to have subsided after I told one or two miscreants their fortune. I was very interested that year 8 pupils did far fewer off-topic postings than year 7. And the forums have started some really interesting discussions beginning with "What do you find exciting and interesting about ICT?" and "What do you find difficult about ICT?" and working from there. Pupils are very keen to make their own web pages.

Anybody else had experience of Moodle?

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We have been experimenting with Moodle and so far the results are impressive.

1) It is easy to put quizzes and tests online and collect in the marks automatically. (Yes I know quizzes and tests are the same thing, but don't you dare tell my pupils <_<:)

2) It is easy to put resources online so pupils can access them at home or in the town library.

3) Pupils enjoy using forums. To start off with there were some off-topic postings but they seem to have subsided after I told one or two miscreants their fortune. I was very interested that year 8 pupils did far fewer off-topic postings than year 7. And the forums have started some really interesting discussions beginning with "What do you find exciting and interesting about ICT?" and "What do you find difficult about ICT?" and working from there. Pupils are very keen to make their own web pages.

Anybody else had experience of Moodle?

Sounds good, but all these things are achievable without Moodle or its nasty template look :) .

I also dislike the proliferation of such sites hidden behind passwords

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3) Pupils enjoy using forums. To start off with there were some off-topic postings but they seem to have subsided after I told one or two miscreants their fortune. I was very interested that year 8 pupils did far fewer off-topic postings than year 7. And the forums have started some really interesting discussions beginning with "What do you find exciting and interesting about ICT?" and "What do you find difficult about ICT?" and working from there. Pupils are very keen to make their own web pages.

Is there any attempt to allow the pupils to create blogs on their learning experience in the school?

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Moodle is very popular among language teachers, not least because of the availability of its interface in a large number of different languages. EUROCALL conferences have featured presentations and workshops on Moodle: http://www.eurocall-languages.org

The Moodle for Language Teaching forum is accessible at http://moodle.org/course/view.php?id=31

I am not a Moodle user myself, but I often browse the forum and make contributions.

The Moodle forum includes hints and tips on incorporating audio files into Moodle, special scripts, etc.

Andy is, of course, right. You can achieve all of what Derek describes without using a Virtual Learning Environment (or whatever the fashionable term is for it) such as Moodle.

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Having experimented with a couple of VLEs, this does seem to be the one students actually like to use.

If it encourages collaborative learning and motivates students - great.

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Thanks for all the replies.

I have not made use of blogs with pupils as yet but it would be a logical extension of what we are doing now. Outside school a lot of pupils make use of http://www.livejournal.com (open source) and www.blogger.com. Livejournal seems to be plagued with adverts - the reason I moved away from using www.tripod.com.

There is a restriction on most free sites that users have to be over 13 but I assume most parents are over 13 and taking an interest in your child's website is no bad thing :)

I will look into the idea of browsing the site anonymously because I don't see any reason why people shouldn't be able to do that. As this is a West Sussex experiment we don't have full administrative control over it.

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The power of the internet is that it allows creative teachers to share and inquisitive students to learn proactively.

VLE's (moodle and the expensive ones :) ) encourage teachers to hide their work and ideas behind a password and point students to deliberately restricted functionality.... it is not surprising that bureaucratic organizations like them.

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The idea of the whole word communicating and collaborating via the Web is a great idea. It was part of the vision of the creator of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee, who wrote: "The dream behind the Web is of a common information space in which we communicate by sharing information."

Unfortunately, this is a dream. Although the world is populated mainly by nice people, there are enough nutters out there who can create havoc. We used to have what we called a Bulletin Board at the ICT4LT site at http://www.ict4lt.org. However, we had to shut it down as it was abused by time-wasters, nutcases, spammers and - worst of all - credit card fraudsters. This was because we allowed absolutely anyone to contribute and didn't have any kind of automatic or manual filtering system in place. At the same time our email addresses were attacked by spammers, resulting in hundreds of spam emails per day hitting our mailbox for a period of around three months. Now we bounce all mail addressed directly to the ICT4LT mailbox. We have a feedback form at the ICT4LT site instead that uses the generic (free) FormMail CGI script. I filter incoming emails sent to me via the feedback form. The form is very effective at keeping out spam, but I still get emails from nutcases and people who can't be bothered to read what the ICT4LT site is all about. I guess you shouldn't have such problems if you only allow your own students access. But once you open up blogs or fora to the public at large you are asking for trouble.

This is where a blog site is useful - i.e. you get someone else to do the filtering for you, as at the TES ICT Blog site:

http://www.tes.co.uk/blogs/

I have noticed, however, that the TES ICT Blog site now requires contributors to register first. I guess that they must have had problems operating a completely open system.

Andy is well aware of the problems that one particular individual, hiding under various pseudonyms, created in this forum for a while. This is why passwords and closed systems are essential under some circumstances. It's not a case of "hiding" behind a passowrd. It's to avoid the kind of chaos that can arise from operating a completely open system.

BTW, using a pseudonym does not protect you if you make libellous remarks in a blog or forum. The courts can force the administrator of the blog or forum to reveal the identify of the originator of a libellous remark. See the story of the lecturer who sent a message to a blog calling a politician a "lard brain" and a "Nazi". The poltician successfully sued her, winning damages of over £10,000 plus costs of £7200:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/story/0,,1737445,00.html

Other cases (in the USA) are documented on the Web.

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Andy is well aware of the problems that one particular individual, hiding under various pseudonyms, created in this forum for a while. This is why passwords and closed systems are essential under some circumstances. It's not a case of "hiding" behind a passowrd. It's to avoid the kind of chaos that can arise from operating a completely open system.

Indeed.

However my points about platforms like Moodle is that they often lack functionality to engage pupils, stifle any urge on the part of teachers to "create their own" online stuff or learn how to, hide resources away within an institution's password, and finally tend to end up with a drab corporate image.

You can see my own VLE as a classic case in point!

http://school-portal.co.uk/Grouphomepage.asp?GroupId=21393 :lol::lol:

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No au contraire, Moodle has encouraged us to create our own material, to engage pupils in forums, facilitate out of lesson learning and many other wonderful things.

I am still seeking to facilitate anonymous login but like I said West Sussex (god bless 'em) control that aspect of it so it might take a while. Moodle does have the facility to allow guests to log in and this would be a good idea. The only people who can add to forums are pupils and teachers at the school and that seems reasonable - maybe TAs should be included too but none has expressed an interest so far.

I run the (moderated) mailing lists for the Teachers' Campaign for a New Workers' Party and the Socialist Party Teachers. We have had to kick off people for totally off-topic and indeed incomprehensible messages and someone who was trying to promote a dating service. Comrades are expected to organise such things for themselves.

No really.

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No au contraire, Moodle has encouraged us to create our own material, to engage pupils in forums, facilitate out of lesson learning and many other wonderful things.

No really.

All within moodle templates and restrictions no doubt.

Once a teacher knows how to use the VLE have they cracked e-learning?

How much of your VLE is is open for the others to see and use?

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You're welcome to see mine, Andy. http://class.ws ... My three groups -- 9th Grade World History, Regional Studies and 20th Century Topics -- are all guest access. I've only really worked at keeping the 9th Grade and 20th Century Topics up-to-date. The Regional Stduies one is on my list of resolutions for next year... I suppose I like Moodle specifically because I haven't "cracked e-learning". I'm a very old dog and it takes me a long time to master new tricks. I find preparing and teaching a full load, after-school activities and paperwork take up around 12-14 hours a day and I'm just too tired to do any more...

I haven't even scratched the surface of Moodle and some of the ways I use it are, apparently, not kosher to the purist. However, the kids enjoy it, and I've been especially pleased with the responses to the 9th Grade forum discussions to which more than half of the kids in the class contributed -- including some it's very difficult to persuade to join in discussions in class.

I wish I had the time and energy to learn html or whatever and to design and maintain my own website, but I don't. With something simple like Moodle and the support of the school techy, I can just about keep my head above water...

Edited by mike tribe

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I'm a very old dog and it takes me a long time to master new tricks. I find preparing and teaching a full load, after-school activities and paperwork take up around 12-14 hours a day and I'm just too tired to do any more...

I haven't even scratched the surface of Moodle and some of the ways I use it are, apparently, not kosher to the purist. However, the kids enjoy it, and I've been especially pleased with the responses to the 9th Grade forum discussions to which more than half of the kids in the class contributed -- including some it's very difficult to persuade to join in discussions in class.

I wish I had the time and energy to learn html or whatever and to design and maintain my own website, but I don't. With something simple like Moodle and the support of the school techy, I can just about keep my head above water...

It is very impressive. Are your students grateful? I particularly liked this illustration.

post-7-1147325193_thumb.gif

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As you can see from the forum section, the 9th Grade use it a lot and read almost everything I put up. Around half the 11th Grade (20th Century Topics) visit regularly, but hardly any of the 12th Grade even log on... You can lead a horse to water, etc..

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I think Derek is absolutely right when he says:

No au contraire, Moodle has encouraged us to create our own material, to engage pupils in forums, facilitate out of lesson learning and many other wonderful things.

My impression - from browsing the language teaching section is that this is indeed what many teachers are doing. There's an excellent tutorial too on creating audio materials using the Audacity software. See my previous posting:

The Moodle for Language Teaching forum is accessible at http://moodle.org/course/view.php?id=31

I am not a Moodle user myself, but I often browse the forum and make contributions.

Moodle can be used for both open and closed systems. The above forum is accessible to the public (guest login) and many of the materials and links contained within it are also accessible to the public.

However, you don't necessarily need a VLE to achieve all this. It can be achieved with a well-managed website - but then you probably need a higher level of expertise or a very amenable webmaster to set it up.

The thing about Moodle is that it's open source. Bits and pieces are constantly being added on to develop it further and make it far less restrictive than VLEs such as WebCT and Blackboard: v. the COVCELL project that is being discussed in the above Moodle forum. COVCELL = Cohort Oriented Virtual Campus for Effective Language Learning (COVCELL) an EU funded initiative to develop new Moodle modules for collaborative language learning.

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