Find out what to expect at our well-loved Learn Moodle Basics MOOC

moodle basics mooc

Moodlers, did you see our recent social post announcing that registration for Learn Moodle Basics MOOC 3.5 is now open?

Or perhaps you saw our Moodle Fairy, community educator and MOOC facilitator, aka Mary Cooch, post about it in our moodle.org news site?

We are very pleased to be running another Learn Moodle Basics MOOC starting on 18 June 2018.

Learn Moodle 3.5 Basics is for anybody who wants to use the Moodle learning platform for teaching, whether it be in a school, a university, a company or just personal interest. In this 4-week MOOC, learners will explore many of the features in Moodle and have the chance to create a practice course of their own.
If you’re interested, please sign up here: learn.moodle.net. You’ll receive an email reminder before the course begins.

If you have never attended our free MOOCs beforehand, and are unsure what is required and expected, good news! We talked to David Morrow, past participant, passionate Moodler and one of our Helpful Moodler badge recipient, to get an in-depth view.

So, here we go!

Moodle HQ: Thanks David for taking the time to chat to us. Are you able to please start with introducing yourself and how you use Moodle or came across Moodle?

David: I appreciate the privilege – thank you.

I work in the Mobile County Public School System (Alabama, USA) as a resource teacher in the Instructional Technology department. We are a fairly small group in a pretty large district (4000 teachers and 57,000 students in 89 schools, the largest in the state). All five of us are former classroom teachers and we all work with teachers and administrators to incorporate technology into teaching and learning. Plus, we each have focus areas based on our particular interests and strengths. For me, that’s Moodle. I do a lot of the training, support, and administration for our two Moodle sites (one for schools and one for professional development). And although it has been a long time since I’ve had to manage a room full of eighth-graders, I like to think I’m still a middle school science teacher at heart. Of course, time is a great filter and it may be that I’m not remembering everything…

My first exposure to Moodle was at a technology conference (ISTE, back when it was still NECC). Several of us attended a Moodle session and thought it would help multiply our efforts at providing technology professional development in the district. We made a request, our network vendor set us up with a test server, and we’ve been Moodling ever since. The original intent was to provide professional development courses for teachers, but word got around and interest grew quickly among teachers who wanted to use it with their students, and that took precedent over the PD plans. I’ve always liked that our Moodle use really grew from the classroom out – very grassroots and very much in direct fulfillment of a need. Ultimately, we set up a separate Moodle instance to handle professional development and other non-classroom needs.

Moodle HQ: How many times have you participated in our Learn Moodle Basic MOOCs? And why did you first join in?

David: I’ve completed the MOOC four times, including the first time it was offered. I originally enrolled to act as a sort of local support for teachers in my district who participated and to keep track of their professional development hours for recertification. The badges that teachers earned for completing the MOOC made that part easy – they just emailed them to me.

More than just accounting for PD hours, the MOOC was (and is) a great opportunity to offer our teachers a high-quality, up-to-date learning experience with one of our main learning tools – Moodle. The time frame – four weeks – was convenient and the weekly time expectation seemed very doable for most teachers. I thought it might help if our teachers knew there would be a local point of support if needed, but that turned out to be largely unnecessary. The design of the course and the course resources, along with Helen and Mary and the community they grew provided more than enough support.

And, of course, the price was right! A free, four-week course on Moodle by Moodle was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Moodle HQ: For those who are not aware of Learn Moodle Basic MOOC or have never attended one before, can you outline what to expect from the course and what is expected from participants to complete the course?

David: First, the Learn Moodle Basic MOOC is a Moodle course on a Moodle site – just like your Moodle course on your school’s Moodle site, if you have one already. If you aren’t already using Moodle, it is a great preview of the structure and tools you’ll have when you do start using it with your students. You will be given a course space of your own to work in during the MOOC, and you’ll even be able to save the things you create in that course so you can transfer them to your own course. You will experience Moodle as both a student and a teacher.

One of the main things I’d like to mention is the absolute lack of pressure – don’t expect to be rushed, pressured, herded, or treated in any way other than as a welcome participant. Do expect the following:

Organization – The course is always well-structured. It is divided into four weekly sections with clear objectives, resources, and activities to complete. The course is largely self-paced within each week, and you will be given an option to have access to all of the course sections at once or to work through them week by week. It makes great use of Moodle’s activity completion feature – some activities will be “checked off” automatically once you’ve completed them, and some you will mark yourself with check/tick boxes.

Support – Expect lots of support – from the facilitators and from other participants. If you are unsure about something, just ask. In addition to the regular course activities and resources, there will be an optional live session each week – with recordings available afterwards in case you can’t attend.

Deadlines – But only a couple, really, other than the end-of-course date. There will be a Workshop activity with specific due dates in weeks 3 and 4. This Workshop activity will involve submitting a short assignment and then completing some peer review and feedback on a few other participants’ work – so the nature of the activity will require everyone to stick to a schedule. Participating in a Workshop activity has been one of my big takeaways from each MOOC. It is a great activity but it appears complex at first when setting one up as a teacher. Working through one as a participant makes the teacher side much more accessible.

Resources – One of the many great features of the course is the collection of how-to videos. These are always created new for each MOOC, using the latest Moodle version. Each is short (generally in the 2-4 minute range), clear, limited to one or two specific topics or tools, really well-produced, and at just the right pace – not too fast or too slow. They are made available on Moodle’s YouTube channel afterwards to provide ongoing support to all Moodle users.

And it would just be wrong to talk about the Learn Moodle Basics MOOC without talking about the facilitators, Helen Foster and Mary Cooch. Both are Moodle HQ employees. Among many other roles, I’m sure, Helen serves as Community Manager and Mary as “Documentation Fairy” (including producing the videos I mentioned earlier). If you spend any time at all in the Moodle.org forums, you’ll seen their names and benefit from their help. Knowing that they were the facilitators was another draw for me to enroll in the MOOC.

Moodle HQ: What have been the benefits, positives or take aways that you have taken from being a part of Learn Moodle Basic MOOC?

David: A big one is gaining a better grasp of the truly global nature of Moodle. Every time I have participated in the MOOC, there have been thousands of participants from well over one hundred countries. At the same time, the MOOC provides a very personal experience for each user. At no point can I remember feeling lost in the crowd.

Another huge benefit for me is always the chance to experience Moodle as a participant. A lot of my time at work is spent in support, training, and working with other departments to use Moodle. I think it helps my ability to provide that support if I stay grounded in Moodle from all users’ points of view.

Experiencing specific activities and resources provides helpful insight. For example, seeing the student side of the Workshop module play out in the MOOC really helped me see better how to use it with students. Seeing any of Moodle’s activities in use – especially from a student perspective – helps give context to the teacher side of things. Moodle gives teachers lots of control, largely through settings, so it is incredibly helpful to me to experience an activity and then be able to see the settings that made it work the way it did.

And the MOOC is always a great opportunity to experience the latest, greatest version of Moodle. It is run twice a year, always on the most recent version. We tend to push the June session more since that is our summer and when we generally update versions.

Moodle HQ: Lastly, David, we notice that you are also a Helpful Moodler badge recipient. For those who have attended past MOOCs, why do you think they should return and how can they contribute to the course, our open source project and the community?

David: Thank you for mentioning that badge – I am a bit proud of it! For me, it represents a sort of personal shift – up until now, most of my activity in the Moodle.org forums has been of the “Help me!” variety. I still ask a lot of questions, but I guess I’m starting to answer some, too.

Along that line, the Learn Moodle MOOC is a great opportunity for previous attendees and other experienced Moodlers to blend roles – to both learn new things and contribute to the community. The easiest way to express what I’m thinking is to quote Moodle’s creator, Martin Dougiamas, “All of us are potential teachers as well as learners – in a true collaborative environment we are both.” (read the rest of his “five referents” here – https://docs.moodle.org/34/en/Pedagogy#Social_Constructionism_as_a_Referent – they are all relevant to the Learn Moodle Basics MOOC).

One of the best ways to continue that collaborative environment beyond the MOOC is to join in the forums at Moodle.org. The way I see it, even asking a question is contributing. That gives others the opportunity to think through the issue you’ve raised, maybe look at it from another POV, ask for more information, and ultimately provide an answer or guidance – all of which might not have occurred had the question not been asked. This enriches the knowledge base so that another user with the same question in the future (probably me) can find the answer with a simple search.

Beyond the forums, there are numerous other ways to contribute to the Moodle project and community. Documentation, translations, testing, plugin development, and more. And the non-profit Moodle Users Association provides a means to propose, vote for, and fund specific project development in Moodle.

Another, more personal way to interact with the Moodle community is by attending a Moodle conference (known as a MOOT). Moots are excellent opportunities to meet and learn from other Moodlers. I’ve been able to attend one of the Moodle-sponsored US Moots and have taken part in the Mountain Moot at Carroll College in Helena, Montana several times. They are easily among the best professional learning experiences I’ve ever had.

So, whether you are a new Moodler or not – sign up for the MOOC! It is a wonderful introduction to Moodle and the community, and a great opportunity to contribute.

Thank you again David for taking the time to chat to us. We really appreciate it.

Join David and other Moodlers from around the world for our Learn Moodle Basic MOOC 3.5, starting on 18 June.

Register your spot today at learn.moodle.net!

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