A New Moodle Community

The launch of Moodle as a new online community tool at Catlin Gabel is well underway. What pleases me the most is that the faculty and staff are showing an appropriate amount of enthusiasm for this new tool at this early point in the school year. In each division, a number of early adopters have jumped at the opportunity to give Moodle a try, a larger number have decided to wait and see what others do with the tool, and some have no desire to start at this point. The following chart shows a neat curve of activity from the most-used to least-used courses. I will follow this activity report closely as students begin to add to the hit totals.

chart of Moodle activity

This reflects a wonderful balance at this point. The small crew of early adopters will be able to roll with the kinks (as we work them out) and lack of clarity (as we refine our training approach). For them, taking advantage of new capabilities will likely outweigh any frustrations experienced from using a brand-new Moodle installation. Leading the way are the modern language teachers, who are excited by many features of Moodle: requiring users to use a foreign language interface, the ability for teachers and students to post audio files, and the facility to create links to many online resources from other countries.

modern languages courses

As I noted before, I am hopeful that Moodle can serve as a general-purpose community web site tool for a wide range of school groups: classes, clubs, teams, and faculty. Under the leadership of Andrew Merrill, the Upper School Faculty page has taken off, and its use practically required due as it now hosts links to attendance and directory files that every upper school teacher uses. The girls volleyball coach has started a page and apparently directed her team members to it, as the access logs attest. The lower school librarian would like to experiment with a page. The outdoor education teacher is excited by the ability to post permission forms in addition to trip schedules, reports, and photo galleries.

Lower school technology integration is a new field for me. I presented Moodle to them for the first time today and was excited to find several points of resonance. Some teachers were interested in posting lesson and homework materials for students. However, the possibility of posting student work for parents to view was perhaps even more warmly accepted. It is currently common for teachers to print reams of student work or burn CDs — posting the work online could simplify and broaden access and save trees and time in the process. The lower school is especially interested in electronic portfolios, though they want the portfolios to span multiple years of a student’s work rather than being limited to one grade. This suggests that an individual-centric application like Elgg may meet this need better than a course-centric application like Moodle.

Two ideas that have nothing to do with Moodle also show a lot of promise in the Catlin middle school. First, Jordan showed me an application called Comic Life that comes preinstalled on some recent Macs. This allows a user to quickly pull images from one’s iPhoto library, arrange them in a comic book template, and add text callouts! Quick and fun storyboard! I also shared the KQED Digital Storytelling Initiative as a way for students to produce digital movies without the time and effort of editing digital video.

Comments are closed.