New Ideas at the 2016 Michigan Moodle Moot

Busy! So busy! Taking a beat, I wanted to reflect on my first trip to a Moodle Moot, in this case the 2016 Michigan Moodle Moot at Mid Michigan Community College. Even as I keep my eye on serious games, student response systems, open educational resources, collaborative classroom spaces, and all other aspects of educational technology, there’s no doubt that Moodle grabs a lot of my attention. That’s okay; I find the LMS an interesting space, and I sincerely enjoy collaborating with faculty to use it more effectively and make it a complimentary, integrated part of our courses. Increasingly, staff members are finding non-course utility in Moodle for working with student employees, campus organizations, and even faculty communities of practice. That’s added another rewarding level of depth and engagement to what I do here at Kalamazoo College.

I attended two workshops led by @michelledmoore of eLearning Consultancy both of which focused on re-thinking approaches to Moodle. Software, design models, and peers have a tendency to push us towards a certain normative “logic” of use so I valued the idea of trying to challenge that logic. Michelle encouraged us to think about “crazy” applications for traditional Moodle Activities to break the routine and find new, creative uses.  Some of this was based on the idea of expanding Permissions to empower students and let them do the work of knowledge construction.  Great thought!

In another session, she challenged the wisdom of Forums, suggesting that regardless of why we are using them, there might be an alternative right in Moodle that would be more effective. This could be the Glossary, Blog, Workshop, etc. I’ve relied on Forums in the LMS extensively and have always had some mixed feelings.  They’re used all the time, but their compulsory, joyless nature is often plainly decipherable in participants’ posts.  Forums are difficult to fully give up on, but I did appreciate this contesting of learning orthodoxy.

Glossary, yes, like I was saying on Twitter – Michelle and other presenters earnestly wanted people to reconsider the value of the Glossary. I can see why it’s a non-intuitive sell. Many educators are assign textbooks with glossaries. Words are defined everywhere on the web. What is the point of students doing this work inside Moodle? There were some great ideas – allowing students to define difficult concepts in their own words, personalized class introduction rosters, course-specific dictionaries, resource sharing, a student-generated study guide, an FAQ, inventories of characters/concepts/specimens/you-name-it, and on and on. I immediately thought of a colleague’s technique where her students built a slang dictionary as part of an ESL class. In the end, I was sold and quickly had an idea for using the Glossary in one of my many hypothetical courses.

Overall, it was a quality experience, and I’m planning on attending next year. There were specific takeaways and strategies, but it was also rewarding to commune with people are working in the same space, facing similar challenges, and collaborating to create a better experience. Maybe I’ll eventually make it to the national Moodle Moot!

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