Wednesday, August 5, 2015

10 11 Ways Moodle Supports Teaching and Learning

   The tremendous, unparalleled access to information and digital technologies makes it imperative that today's educators understand how this access has reshaped the way both teachers and students learn as well as the way we all access and process information. Additionally, an abundance of research demonstrates how students learn best and how digital technologies can be used to access information to promote both rich, dynamic, interactive learning environments as well as deeper levels of understanding and student engagement. Effective integration takes place when the use of digital resources and tools is guided by sound pedagogical decisions made by the teacher, resulting in gains in student engagement and achievement. 
   So what does this mean to the classroom teacher? How does a learning management system like Moodle fit into classroom instruction, especially if it seems an imposition on traditional methods that "have worked" in the past? While not all inclusive, the following is a list offering the advantages of an LMS like Moodle:

1. Organization of Digital Resources: The tremendous abundance of world class online resources requires a means for teachers to organize and align those resources to the curriculum. Moodle enables teachers to organize resources to meet the needs of students as they progress along the learning continuum. Furthermore, its flexibility and adaptability ensures the teacher can make adjustments on the fly. Furthermore, Moodle gives teachers greater control over a wider variety of instructional presentations and activities without having to rely on a single resource or textbook. 

2. Scalability: Moodle provides teachers with opportunities to scale learning paths specific to the needs of individual students. From activities constructed to remediate to those designed to accelerate, Moodle can used to provide learning opportunities ranging from supplementary materials for an entire class to deeply immersive, targeted activities designed for specific groups or individuals in mind. 

3.  Pacing and Choice: Moodle allows teachers to create options for students, engaging them through self-selected activities that give students a sense of control and investment in the content. Furthermore, students can pursue activities at their own pace, reviewing or revisiting assignments and activities they have yet to master or accelerating through concepts or skills they already know.

4. Collaboration: There is ample research demonstrating that students learn best when provided with opportunities to work together, give and receive immediate feedback, serve as both teachers and learners at the same time, contribute to the classroom, interact with the teacher, exercise his or her voice, and participate in learning activities. Moodle creates a highly interactive environment to allow collaboration to occur both inside and outside the classroom. Furthermore, an LMS like Moodle allows for teacher collaboration, combining the best practices from more than one instructor and allowing for co-teaching and assessment as well. 

5. Ongoing Assessment: Effective learning takes place when teachers are constantly monitoring student progress by way of both formal and informal assessments. The use of ongoing progress monitoring and formative assessments assures teachers can access data to continuously inform the direction and progress of instruction. The tracking and reporting features of an LMS like Moodle provide teachers with an abundance of data to make informed decisions about the direction of student learning. 

6. Maximizing the Effective Use of Classroom Time: By using Moodle to provide learning opportunities both during and outside of classroom time, teachers can gain more time to specifically observe and work with students in small groups or individually during class time. Students can remain engaged and immersed while the teacher guides learning and thinking during the learning process instead of relying upon a summative assessment days or weeks later to determine if students have grasped the concepts or skills.

7. Flexibility: Using an LMS in the classroom can be like having a virtual teaching assistant. A teacher has options for presenting content and for measuring the transfer of knowledge in a number of different ways. While a content management system is often considered useful for learning outside of class time, it can actually offer multiple paths to learning concepts and skills in addition to direct instruction and face-to-face activities simultaneously. Extension activities, independent learning opportunities, immersive simulations and rich, multimedia experiences can all be used to present the curriculum in ways all students learn best. 

8. Constructivist Approach: Research provides evidence that far greater learning takes place when students are actively engaged in  constructing knowledge ("creating" or "doing") rather than passively listening, viewing, reading, or memorizing. Moodle provides the teacher with the ability to create immersive, interactive learning environments promoting student inquiry and engagement. 

9. An LMS is Student Centered, Not Teacher Centered:  Moodle provides opportunities for students to learn both independently and inter-dependently. In a traditional classroom, the teacher may lead the entire class via lecture or share media while students are passively engaged; in an LMS, students are actively engaged in activities created by the teacher while the teacher monitors progress, offers assistance, and makes observations of actual student thinking as they work to solve challenges or construct understanding. 

10. Framework for Digital Literacy and Citizenship: The proliferation of digital technology requires educators to model the effective use of that technology to provide access to appropriate information. The use of an LMS provides structure and guidance for examining valid and reliable sources of learning content while preparing students to appropriately use digital tools for learning beyond school.

11. Providing World Class Examples of Content and Skills: Alan November asks 6 key questions to differentiate the use of technology as truly innovative versus merely "using" devices as a substitute for what can be accomplished via traditional means. One way Moodle can support more rigorous student expectations is by serving as a collection point for world class models, demonstrations, and examples of exactly what it is we want our students to accomplish. When students are struggling to be creative, find ideas, or develop a thought, often it helps to provide models and demonstrations of exactly what we as teachers expect. With access to the global playing field, we can find and organize the very best examples of student work, problem-solving, thinking, and products for our students to consider as they tackle the challenges presented to them in the classroom.