School started today, and I can see light at the end of the tunnel. We have made our most significant changes to the network for the year, have almost finished annual maintenance on everyone’s computer, and can soon settle in to the daily support of a school in operation. And I can find the time to start blogging again!
Today, I spent an hour with our U.S. History teacher, who is offering an elective titled “Election 2008” this fall. He wanted to build a course web site that would put the students’ ideas front and center and provide many connections to outside resources related to the national and state elections coming in November. We stretched our practice of what Moodle could do to support such a course.
Here is the Moodle site as it currently stands.
Why the big blank space? We are using the “social” course format for this course, rarely used at Catlin Gabel. The social format is the most child-centered of the course formats in Moodle. It puts a discussion forum front and center, so that students’ posts about election news, photos or cartoons, and statistics from the race can dominate the page. As the course begins, this part of the page will become an ever-changing river of student thoughts and reactions.
On the right-hand side of the page, we are pulling two RSS feeds into the site, one from the progressive Talking Points Memo and the other the conservative Washington Times. In this case, Moodle’s practice of showing the feeds separately works well.
In the left-hand column goes more conventional Moodle content, especially links to course resources and activities. We did have some fun using embed code from YouTube and election-related widgets to embed interesting content into the sub-pages.
The teacher is planning to Skype in representatives from the campaigns and students from other schools. I have seen Moodle’s Skype plugin but haven’t quite figured out what exactly it does. Isn’t the magic of Skype all in the application? Does it list your online friends or something? Please enlighten me, if you have worked with this before.
I will enjoy watching the students develop this page and engage in rich conversations as the course begins.