I spent a day and a half in Seattle to visit Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences and attend the PNAIS Teacher Conference. I got to spend a good chunk of time with Vicki Butler, who graciously toured us through the Seattle Academy campus and gave us an in-depth look into their Moodle installation.
Seattle Academy has deeply leveraged Moodle to organize assignments and track student progress. Every teacher maintains homework assignments for every course. Teachers and students thereby benefit from Moodle’s aggregation features — each person has a meta-calendar that shows all of their outstanding work program-wide. In additon to built-in features, staff have installed optional modules and written custom code to more effectively track student progress. On their course home pages, teachers can easily view what assignment submissions remain to be graded and advisees who are falling behind on their homework. Advisors can quickly view overall course progress of their students. The school is experimenting with Mahara e-portfolio integration. I hope to learn from their use of roles and permissions in order to create a way for our parents to view course content without having to enroll in each one.
I am most interested in using Moodle to create immersive, social learning environments for students. Vicki showed me several examples of students maintaining glossaries, posting science videos, and holding discussions using Moodle’s activity modules.
After checking Michael Thompson‘s keynote on boy education, I soon settled in with my colleagues from Lakeside, Billings, Meridian, Evergreen, and Seattle Academy to plan the PNAIS TechShare conference, scheduled for June 28-30, 2009 in Welches, Oregon. We selected a theme, “Small World,” an exploration of global education and social technologies. This should lead to sessions on GIS, trip planning, international collaborations, global education, Skype, Drupal, uStream, and more. We are also hoping to walk the talk by coordinating live, international participation in the conference through uStream and Skype.
We speculated that it might be particularly effective to put a single person in charge of the remote participants in each session. Instead of occasionally reading out remote contributions, the backchannel facilitator could arrange Skype connections with remote participants and pull them into the discussion.
I also added Billings and Meridian to my list of schools with Drupal-powered public-facing web sites.
Can you imagine how much richer our daily professional life would be if the staff from all of these schools blogged?