What does a school have to think about as it adopts Moodle? We are finishing our first year of Moodle use at Carmel Middle School and Carmel High School and I will share some of our findings on this blog. We are using Moodle for teacher web pages but use another system for online grades.
History and Setup: We piloted Moodle on our own server for one year. The teachers who set up Moodle pages liked the system and so we adopted it as the official platform for class websites. As part of our official adoption the district paid for Remote-Learner.net to host our Moodle and provide support. This really helps with peace of mind and has been a very positive relationship. All student were given accounts created with a file upload. Teachers could request courses to be set up, but students are not automatically enrolled. All courses allow guest access, so that students and parents could just use guest access to download files.
We ran several all day trainings in the summer to get teachers up to speed and occasional trainings during the school year.
The most important lessons so far:
- Creating a website takes time. If you want teachers to create pages, give them the time to do so by making it a professional development priority.
- Most teachers will start with Web 1.0 features. They will use Moodle as an online file storage center, not an interactive virtual learning environment. That is OK and as the level of comfort with Moodle grows, teachers can start to explore interactive elements. Also Web 1.0 features are really useful for student absences and lost handouts.
- The students will want to socialize online. We have messaging turned on and our middle school students love to hang out on our Moodle at night. This means they are chatting in a safe, monitored environment (Moodle logs, only students and teachers have accounts). It also means that students are familiar with the page and so are more aware of the resources teachers provide than if the site wasn’t social.
- Many teachers will need to see real benefits before they jump on the bandwagon. Don’t worry about pushing too hard on the reticent teachers at first. Support and encourage the power users and the benefits will speak for themselves.
- The more teachers that use it, the better. One of the advantages of Moodle is that it is a one stop shop for school. If some teachers use their own system, that fragments your online school community.
To close my first post about our Moodle, I would like to share the result from one of the questions from a student survey about Moodle. The students really love having a place to interact online and access to classroom materials. Check out our site.