E-Learning teaching techniques

Moodle 1.9 Teaching Techniques from ApressLately I have been reading this book about techniques for e-learning/teaching and how to take advantages of some of Moodle’s resources. Now, I already know Moodle quite well. I even have prepared courses on the topic as well as live presentation to learning communities. I have used the tool many times and even have driven commercial corporate courses for big companies.

That said, I have always been interested in learning the techniques of others as they manage the different dynamics of the classroom. Even if a tool is well understood the implementation can vary, on the other side, the classroom behavior could also greatly vary depending on how competent the audience is on taking and proceeding with the courses.

One of the biggest issues is to understand that even if many people use the Internet, they don’t see themselves as a member of the Internet but rather a consumer of the web. They know how to look for information and read it. However very seldom will they participate and interact with the resources like commenting and chatting. Or people that is used to chat, feel very awkward to listen or talk to the computer, so doing voip or listening to podcasts is very alternative and even foreign.

So understanding the value of the audience there needs to be different strategies so they can learn the best way possible.

The book is quite interesting since they start talking about all these factors and how e-learning should be seen. Generating highly effective courses, is one of the book goals, and how to grasp concepts such as ubiquitos learning, how Moodle’s interface remain consistent through out it’s activities. A concept called social constructivism pedagogy as well as how does people learn in the real world.

  • Interact with the environment
  • Experiences from others
  • Social learning
  • Constructed approaches

Although these sound a bit like jargon, is interesting how these theories work in the context of the LMS and how students can get to these practices through the use of a combination of such. At the same time a big question hunt me which is how diverse should I be on my approach and how many will have the chance to learn and how many will miss important areas of  the learning path because of their natural adversity to the method employed. Another even more crazy question hunt me which was if I need to re-run the course for the visual, another version for the auditive and finally another for the kinesthetic people.

The next section of the book deal with the type of resources and how our course would be social by just using one simple resource — the forums. A whole course of forums is not as bad as it looks and a lot of interaction could be generated from students simply understanding where to discuss what things and how to get and provide answers. This only resource could be enough to get a class engaged with one another.

So the debate between using moodle as a discussion system versus a content repository (which is what is usually used for) arises. From that point o view forums play a big roll on your engaging strategy.

If you really look at it, social sites like Facebook are nothing more than a forum. People post, and others comment, either with text, images or even videos.

From the point of view of Forums, other things like wiki’s and chat could branch out as they maintain the interaction but on a different context. A chat provides a more real time interaction while a wiki provide very slow interaction but great for documentation and moving knowledge from a discussion into a published work.

So we will go from questions raised on the Chat & Forum – to a tutorial that should be published in a Wiki and eventually migrated to a more structured and cataloged book or web page.

From that part, it goes into one of the most traditional resources, exams. Also known as quizzes this is a complex area to tackle how the word exams work into the psyque of many of us and the anxiety always get us uncomfortable on how to deal with these part of learning. The book tries it bests to re-format that image into a workflow of constant practice of the bases of the course.

How key knowledge could be benefited from a repetitive interaction, in this case, repeating it in form of a question and letting students even create their own quiz to remember their own notes.

Grading is also a part of the quizzes although for some type of learning these things are also a bit off  putting even for the trainer. Nothing make a teacher as excited as reviewing amateur papers.

Then it goes into Lessons which is one of my favorite activities because it give structure to a course creating a learning path. These learning path will greatly benefit both students and teachers on giving an easy way to navigate and understand the workflow that is intended here. Key benefit of lessons is the amount of information I get from it, as the logs usually tell me how much time the student has put into the information and the intermediary questions (or clusters) allow me to assess the knowledge gained right away.

Chapter 6 deals with Wikis which is mainly about getting users to develop paper projects, which on a different context I have been able to use this. Not on a traditional fashion of collaboration but as a way to help me document activities each have done on a better format way.

At the moment these are the immediate things that the book covers, other activities include Workshop, Choice and Portfolio/Gallery. These resources also play important part of the Moodle ecosystem, there is also a big restriction about how to implement e-learning. Is good to experiment, but don’t do something just because you can.

Having too many resources, can make the student head spin, as well as just be more focused on how to figure out the next activity as opposed to actually focusing on the content.

What is clear here is simple:

  • Make students engage withing themselves
  • Make it interactive

I think this book is a great resource and consulting books as classes are filled up and spent. Questions and comments are welcomed.



Development and new Podcast

So these past weeks I haven’t blog as much. However I have been doing lots of good stuff. First I have got back in talks with the client in south america as well as polished my presentation on drupal for this friday. I have spent the time also on sites like oDesk. ODesk is an outsource/freelancer site to sell your skills throug the web and something very interesting for what could be the future of support tools.Another thing that has happened this week is the launch of my new podcast on HPR. We start with a talk on QtWebkit which is a new development framework to create web desktop app. We dedicate some time to document ourself but not enough and honestly this wasn’t meant to be a show but since we already record it and went back and forth on it we just decided doing that. Some of the interesting comments were talking about the dynamic dashboard and how can these tool help us design interesting desktop apps. In the end there wasn’t a definitive conclusion, actually the end was a bit abrupt since the recording got cut unintentionally during the call.Finally I been really downloading a lot of audiobooks. My favorite so far is Confessions of an Economic Hitman a book by John Perkins which is the interesting story of economist that inflate the economy of a country to get huge loans and burry the countries into debth in the name of progress and pushing forward the US empire.  There is a video on youtube, actually there is a whole array of videos that you can check out there.If you want to chat about that with me, please let me know through the comments and we can set up a chat session since I really want to share my thoughts with other people.So as you can see it was a very productive week and hope this carry on for the next one.