Teaching and Learning with Moodle

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Teaching PD

Nellie Deutsch, Ed.D

University of Phoenix and Atlantic University

nelliemuller@email.phoenix.edu

I’ve been coined the Moodle Lady by many Moodle for Teacher (M4T) graduates. I plan to share some of my blended and fully online teaching experiences with Moodle on Moodle News. However, before I get started, I’d like to share a little about my background.

Here are a few dates you may find interesting. I’ve been an admin of my own Moodle site and teaching with Moodle since 2003. I have been mentoring teachers on how to use Moodle since 2004.

Teaching and learning online is a very important part of my life. It all started in the early 90s when I began to use the computer room at my school to teach English as a foreign language (EFL). It was called computer-assisted language learning in those days. Teaching in a physical classroom and at a distance via the Internet or blended learning was not as easy as it is today. There were very few free learning management systems available to the public, so word processors and emails were used quite extensively to communicate with students. As a result, I had to develop my own websites, WebQuests, and lesson plans based on Microsoft programs and authoring tools.

Teaching blended and later fully online courses not only changed the way I teach and learn, it transformed me as an individual. I started communicating with a lot of wonderful people on discussion forums as a way to learn and improve my online instruction. That’s when I realized that learning with other people was the only way to learn.

Many of you may not realize it, but Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google Plus, and other social networks did not exist in the early 90s. People connected for learning by going on lists and asking questions. Today, you can just Google your question and get more hits than you can manage. You can also share ideas and questions on social networks and get instant feedback.

I’ve been teaching in the traditional school environment for over 30 years. I have rebelled against the school system since grade 8. I have seen few changes in formal education. In the past and today students need constant challenges in order to focus in the classroom. Teachers in the past were expected to engage their students in experiential (hands on) learning activities that promote social skills via teamwork, higher order critical thinking skills via inquiry and problem-based learning, and technological skills so students can grow as individuals and become effective learners. Nothing has changed. Teachers are still required to facilitate learning, but have the advantage of using technology.

As a teacher in the school system, I have always focused on one question. Am I doing all I can to facilitate instruction and learning for each one of my students? If not, how can I reach my students? How can I relate to them? What adjustments do I need to make in my behavior? What tools are available to facilitate the process of engagement and learning?

I realized early on (late 80s) that teaching in a physical class was limiting. Learning has no time or place. It happens 24/7. I started searching for a learning management system that would facilitate instruction and learning. I found Moodle in 2003 and WizIQ live virtual class in 2007. I have not looked back.

Moodle allows me to connect with students in a safe password-protected environment 24/7. However, it’s hard to really connect unless you have the face-to-face real time element, too. I wanted to reach out to my students, but emails and discussion forums were not enough. I found chats limiting because we couldn’t share audio, video, image or text files and engage in solving problems on a whiteboard.

I searched for virtual classes that had whiteboard where we can share files and engage in discussions and problem solving using the writing tools, the chat, mice, and webcams. I wanted a live online class that would allow my students and I to engage in quality learning. I found Interwise, Elluminate, Gotomeetings, Adobe, Dimdim, Hotconference, WizIQ, and other free and paid programs, but they all had shortcomings. I had no problems with that, but none of the companies were ready to listen to my needs, except for WizIQ.

I now use WizIQ live classes in all my Moodle courses. WizIQ can be integrated into Moodle, Blackboard or and other websites. I’m a very demanding teacher.  I keep asking for improvements so that students from around the globe can receive quality learning whether they learn in formal or informal, blended or fully online programs. I’m pleased to say that the developers at WizIQ listen and deliver.

You’re invited to ask questions, share your experiences with teaching and learning online, and make suggestions.

As a disclaimer, everything I write in these blog posts are my own personal views based on my teaching experiences. The fact that WizIQ, Moodle partners, or other companies have ads on this blog site does not reflect my opinions in any way. I am not the owner of the blog and do not gain any monetary benefits from the ads or from writing these posts.

  • I really like all the programs that Nellie does, and I liked hearing the background which led her to Moodle. I was however, surprised that the end of the article was like an advertisement for WizIQ, a commercial program. If you wish to advertise or promote a commercial product, it is better to include a disclaimer to show your relationship to the company.

    Cheers,
    Don

  • Happy Holiday Season, Don. I’m glad you enjoyed learning how I got started. I will be adding more about my experiences with technology and Moodle next week. I’m kind of confused by your commercial and advertising claim. I promote technology that works for me in and out of the classroom. I get very enthusiastic about great programs like Screencast-o-matic, Google Drive, Moodle, and WizIQ, so maybe I do sound like I’m giving a commercial at times. You should hear me talk about Poodll.

    I’m wondering why you didn’t include Moodle? You could claim that I’m doing a commercial on Moodle, too. I use both Moodle and WizIQ systems in my courses. I hope to I discuss Google drive (Kaizena and move note) in the future. Does that mean that I will be advertising Google? If so, should I add a disclaimer for Moodle, WizIQ, and Google?

  • Hi Nellie,

    Thanks for posting. I enjoyed your article. The difference with Moodle and PoodLL is that they are free and open source. WizIQ is not. Also BigBlueButton is a free, open source tool for live classes. In your experience, it may not be the best tool and I realize there are times when a commercial software is worth trying, but it is best not to promote them without disclaimers. Joe has been really careful to always outline his affiliations through disclaimers and I really trust his articles because of that. Please take my point as a bit of advice that will make your testimonials (and I make them too) more powerful.

  • Don, WizIQ may not be open source, but it’s free for educators. You and others can get free premium accounts as teachers. I am able to give free public courses, classes, organize free MOOCs and conferences using WizIQ because it’s free. The tech people at WizIQ even install WizIQ plugin on my Moodle sites. Support is free on WizIQ whereas on Moodle, Poodll, and on BigBlueButton, I need to pay Moodle partners or a Moodle tech person for support or join a discussion forum that is not always helpful. The trouble with open is that it’s free to download, but not to install or get hands-on support. I see a lot of advertisements on the blog, including Moodle Partners and WizIQ, but I’m a private person. Do I need to add a disclaimer?

  • I am very sorry if I misunderstood the WizIQ license, Nellie. Earlier, I checked the WizIQ site and it said, “Plans starting at $19/month”. Here on the WizIQ website, it says the free trial is only 30 days for educators, and then it costs $190/year. They state that this applies to all educators including high school teachers and university instructors: http://www.wiziq.com/premium/?pageid=29

    Perhaps like the pricing evolution with Ning, you got an introductory plan that was free, but now all plans require payment.

    As for a disclaimer, always be upfront with relations to commercial companies. There is a WizIQ advertisement directly next to your article, so yes, you are related. WizIQ is paying Moodle News to show your article which means they are supporting you indirectly. You are commercially related to WizIQ. Readers will not know who is writing privately or who is directly benefiting from the advertisements on the site, unless you explain that (i.e. a disclaimer). So first, my advice would be to explain specifically why WizIQ is better than free alternatives, and then state that you receive no benefits from the WizIQ corporation. If you do receive a free license from them, then state that, because I seems that I cannot receive such a benefit.

    Actually, I am curious about your reasons because I thought BigBlueButton might be the best for Moodle, but actually, I do not use these live classrooms very much like you do, so your opinion on WizIQ matters a lot to me.

  • BTW, I now pay for my Ning sites because teachers no longer get any benefits. However, WizIQ has a free premium account for educators. I get a free account because I have an organization email from academic organizations. I am affiliated with Atlantic University, the University of Phoenix, and a local high school. You can also get a free academic account if you work at a university or K-12 school. Here’s the link to get your free account: http://www.wiziq.com/Academic/

    I suggest you try the live class on WizIQ and decide for yourself, Don. I have BigBlueButton on one of my Moodle sites. I will keep testing it and let you know if I change my mind.

  • Don Hinkelman

    Hi Nellie,

    Thanks for the link to the free academic version. It says the free membership is good for one year. Also I can find no links to this hidden page from anywhere on the WizIQ site. Everywhere it states $190/year for educators. My guess is that the free version is being phased out. And that is the right of commercial organizations to monetize their products.

    Anyway, even if WizIQ is not free, it sounds good. They gave you great service, installed it, and it works well in your classes. That is a great testimonial and that is enough for me. Commercial products are a good thing. I am just suggesting you say, “I love WizIQ for these reasons … and as a disclaimer, note that WizIQ is a supporter of this site, and has given me free service and products for the past xx years. It may change those terms for you.”

  • Hi Don,

    You are correct about this particular blog. The owner does advertise WizIQ on Moodle. I will add a disclaimer as you suggested.

    Thank you.

  • Ivica Kartelo

    Hi Nellie,

    Excellent post! I have first time meet you in 2008. In yours WizIQ open courses and have been impressed. Then, I’ve been an online teacher for 10 years in my private online schools and my DiY LMS and just tell yourself, this teacher is great for my improvement like online teacher, and I follow you from that till today. Chapeau Nellie!