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Holger Kroll

VLE/Moodle

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As part of my MA in education I intend to research the usefulness of the VLE Moodle for MFL.

Does anybody know of schools that use this technology? If you do please can you let me know.

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Holger:

Have you done an online search with MFL and Moodle as search terms? I've just done one and several schools and courses were flagged up:

http://learning.thedustonschool.northants....egory.php?id=16

http://www.rsc-london.ac.uk/cms/865/

http://www.ag-consulting.co.uk/mflelearning/tools.htm

http://moodle.fallibroome.cheshire.sch.uk/...egory.php?id=12

When I've researched the use of ICT in MFL, I've always started with the problem - the teaching point within MFL I wanted to impart - before proceeding to the solution, which may or may not involve ICT. Choosing the solution before defining the problem seems like putting the cart before the horse. And MFL teachers are likelier to adopt new technologies such as VLEs if they begin with what they know - the MFL teaching tasks they have to be perform - before casting round for imaginative and effective ways of delivering them. I've attended too many INSET sessions when a new technology was demonstrated and the only impact was to dazzle the multidisciplinary audience. There was little follow-up and little take=up, because no spadework had been done on finding out what the real underlying educational issues were. Pedagogy must come before technology.

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I agree with David 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. See my "Lessons from the past, lessons for the future" article:

http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/coegdd1.htm

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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