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David Richardson

E-HELP members using MOODLE

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I was so organised in sending round that list for people to indicate their willingness to help us with MOODLE, wasn't I … and so disorganised in forgetting to take it with me when I left!

May I just ask again, that anyone who's interested in conversing with us about the use of MOODLE as an LMS for an educational institution is welcome and encouraged to send me a mail with their mail address. We won't bother you - it's just that we've got a couple of enthusiasts here who're very interested in talking to people who've been down the same road.

You can mail me at david.richardson@hik.se and I'll pass your address on to either Peter Carlsson or Peter Diedrichs.

Thanks in advance.

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I was so organised in sending round that list for people to indicate their willingness to help us with MOODLE, wasn't I … and so disorganised in forgetting to take it with me when I left!

May I just ask again, that anyone who's interested in conversing with us about the use of MOODLE as an LMS for an educational institution is welcome and encouraged to send me a mail with their mail address. We won't bother you - it's just that we've got a couple of enthusiasts here who're very interested in talking to people who've been down the same road.

You can mail me at david.richardson@hik.se and I'll pass your address on to either Peter Carlsson or Peter Diedrichs.

Thanks in advance.

Hello David

I am exactly at the same stage as you with Moodle - just about to trial it at DTC - maybe we can help each other? Feel free to pass my details on to your techies andrew@dtc.kent.sch.uk

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I started with [as a pilot] in the middle of last year and the whole school started with it in September. I use it pretty extensively but discover new things about it all the time... I'm very much an amateur when it comes to matters technical but the relative simplicity of the Moodle set up certainly seems to be making my life a bit easier...

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I was so organised in sending round that list for people to indicate their willingness to help us with MOODLE, wasn't I … and so disorganised in forgetting to take it with me when I left!

May I just ask again, that anyone who's interested in conversing with us about the use of MOODLE as an LMS for an educational institution is welcome and encouraged to send me a mail with their mail address. We won't bother you - it's just that we've got a couple of enthusiasts here who're very interested in talking to people who've been down the same road.

You can mail me at david.richardson@hik.se and I'll pass your address on to either Peter Carlsson or Peter Diedrichs.

Thanks in advance.

In my school Guido van Dijk might give some advice. I'll send his email address to you soon. :up

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Many thanks for the quick responses so far. I've passed your mail addresses on to the two Peters, and I expect that they'll be in touch.

I've been a bit resistant to VLE/LMSs so far, although I've both used and helped design more than one. My main problem with them is the enthusiasm of central bureaucrats for control of what teachers do! However, I don't want to make a religion of it, and I might ask the two Peters to help me use MOODLE for at least one of my courses in the spring.

I think that one of the problems with the development of LMSs is that they tend to get used by total beginners a bit like the training wheels you sometimes use when small children first learn to ride a bike. You can definitely learn without them … and in some ways the use of training wheels actually makes it harder to learn to ride. Among the total beginners are, of course, the IT departments. They're usually very accomplished with the features of various systems, but the benefits to the learning process are usually completely beyond them … because IT technicians are rarely teachers.

Still, if I do take the plunge again in the spring, I'll keep you all posted about how it went. I'm writing a blog (very sporadically) called A Distance Teacher's Diary at the moment. You can find it at: http://flexlearning.blogg.se/ There might be one or two things in it which you could use …

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Zuboff in "In the Age of the Smart Machine" suggested that technology can be used to "informate" or "automate". The point being we have something of a choice as to how we "consume" a new technology. The critical time is in the period of transition.

Institutions tend to like VLEs because they automate teaching, assessment, learning etc. They also like the corporate image such systems lend themselves to. I would contend that such concerns have nothing to do with learning.

Frankly having heard you speak twice now I much prefer the choices you have made as regards technology and learning.

I would advise you to proceed with caution along the VLE path.

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I wrote this in response to an enquiry regarding the use of Moodle in language teaching in the Modern Languages section of this forum:

I agree with David Wilson about choosing the solution before the problem. Right now VLEs, along with podcasts and blogs are being hailed by the new generation of teachers as the greatest inventions since sliced bread. Think about the pedagogy first, and if it looks as if a VLE will enable you to deliver that pedagogy in a better way then experiment with it. VLEs are only as good as the materials that they contain and the way in which the materials are exploited.

Moodle has quite a strong following among teachers of modern languages. There is a Moodle for Language Teaching forum at:

http://moodle.org/course/view.php?id=31

It contains some useful hints and tips, e.g. a tutorial on using Audacity for the creation of audio files:

http://moodle.org/mod/resource/view.php?id=3545

Recent EUROCALL conferences have also featured Moodle, including at least one Moodle workshop. Look at the EUROCALL conference archives at: http://www.eurocall-languages.org

Anita Pincas, Institute of Education, runs a course in online learning, which I think includes an introduction to Moodle:

http://www.ioe.ac.uk/english/OET.htm

The Open University is introducing Moodle for the delivery of online tuition, including modern languages. Currently it uses its own in-house system, Lyceum. See:

http://www3.open.ac.uk/media/fullstory.aspx?id=7354

Bear in mind, however, that the Open University’s modern languages departments have no intention of delivering 100% online. Moodle, like Lyceum, is considered only as an add-on (currently audio-graphic conferencing) to the media that it currently uses, e.g. printed materials and recorded audio and video materials, as well as face-to-face tutorials delivered at local colleges. The Open University is a success because of this “blend” and its comprehensive tutor support network. See:

Hampel R. & Hauck M. (2004) "Towards an effective use of audio conferencing in distance language courses", Language Learning and Technology 8, 1: 66-82. Available at: http://llt.msu.edu/vol8num1/hampel/default.html

Like all other VLEs, Moodle is still incapable of delivering the one facility that I regard as the sine qua non of language learning, especially in the beginner stages: namely offering interactive exercises in which the learner can record and playback his/her own voice and hear what he/she sounds like. I have been doing this as a language learner since the 1950s and as a language teacher since the 1960s, beginning with the humble reel-to-reel tape recorder and, more recently, using a variety of CD-ROMS and DVD-ROMs that offer this facility. I picked up a bit of Polish with the EuroTalk series of CD-ROMs in anticipation of a visit to Poland in 2005, having searched in vain for anything on the Web that offered me a listen / respond / playback facility that allowed me to practise getting my tongue round those horrendous Polish consonant clusters.

Try addressing your question to the EUROCALL discussion list at:

http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/eurocall-members.html

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Frankly having heard you speak twice now I much prefer the choices you have made as regards technology and learning.

I would advise you to proceed with caution along the VLE path.

I take your point - which, I suppose is my point too! I'm not actually going to go down this path myself, but rather take a long and deep look at Moodle on behalf of some of my colleagues.

It sounds really arrogant to put it like this … but I happen to know more about VLEs than they do, despite the fact that they're largely computer technicians who've spent lots of (paid) time looking into various environments. I actually started using TopClass back in the days it was called WEST, which was way back in the dark ages!

The problem is that they don't know much about what features most VLEs actually have, so they have a tendency to be dazzled by whatever bit of salesmanship is being hawked. I got an administrator ID on our version of Moodle this morning at 9.00 and by 9.20 I'd created a course … because I've done it before on several similar systems.

My initial reaction is that a system like Moodle might be OK for a complete newcomer to on-line learning, who doesn't have time to work out what he or she really wants to do, because the boss has just told them to get their course on-line. A bit like training wheels on a little bicycle, it might help you to avoid falling off the very first time, but it might also make it harder for you to learn to cycle properly.

I react to the names 'Learning Management Systems' or 'Virtual Learning Environments'. I tend to call them CIS - 'Course Information Systems' - since all they do is collect fairly boring course information in one place.

So, don't worry, Andy, I'm not going over to the dark side!

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