Back to School with 3 ways to Jazz up your Moodle pt 3

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It’s back to school week! We have all the tips and tricks for getting a jump start with Moodle this school term and will be sharing a few of our favorites all this week.

Our 3rd tip for putting some Jazz in your Moodle is: do not use Moodle as a document repository.

Perhaps one of the best and most frequent criticisms that students have of Moodle is that it’s just full of documents and homework to be downloaded and printed out.  It’s easiest to setup Moodle by just posting links of Word, PDF and PPT documents that were previously created for a course, and that’s how many courses start.  But the real value of Moodle is replacing some of the traditional classroom activities (group work, independent discovery, chats, study guide creation) with a Moodle-based solution and moving beyond links to resources and a forum.

I’m no expert in Moodle-based pedagogy, but what I can say from experience is that if you try out Moodle’s activities on your own you’ll discover new and really great ways to recreate some quality learning experiences online.

My favorite Moodle activities are (included are quick videos to showcase the setup/use of each activity),

  1. Quiz module (whether graded or not, this is a great, efficient way to gauge comprehension and understanding).  A short quiz to recap a topic could provide a lot of information about student comprehension and where to focus next. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjmILn5KGZo
  2. Glossary: allow users to add glossary entries as introductions to themselves or to create a class vocab list is a great way to utilize the glossary. Adding a random glossary entry block to the main page of your site is just another way to showcase student contributed work.  I love this module.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JziF3hiArkY
  3. Wiki: When I first started using Moodle I thought that the wiki was lacking.  But in terms of simplicity, the Moodle wiki is both easy to use and user-friendly — as long as you take the time to figure it out.  If you’re looking to provide students a way to collaborate on a study guide, this is a great place to do it (even in groups!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Uva-PwgF_4
  4. Lesson: A commenter once said that this was perhaps the most under-utilized Moodle activity.  I agree.  While daunting when you’re first introduced to the Lesson settings, once you master the flow it’s a great way to present information, assess, repeat.  Branches add a level of complexity but all in all it’s a great opportunity to use the HTML editor to incorporate audio or video (through embedding or Moodle’s native filters) so that students can “flip through” the lesson at their own pace, engage the content you provide them and meet the criteria for advancing that you set.  I’m not a fan of the PPT import (which I’ve never had success with) but if you’re savvy enough with some HTML you can create some nice looking lesson pages.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xjXelUZguw

What’s your favorite Moodle activity?  Share your usage tips in the comments.