Building understanding together in the Learn Moodle Basics MOOC

learn moodle basics

You may know that twice a year, our Learn Moodle Basics MOOC attracts thousands of newbie Moodlers who want to teach with Moodle. (Our next MOOC, Learn Moodle Basics 3.5, is open for registration now and starts on June 18 by the way!)

But did you know that quite a few organisations arrange for whole teams of teachers to take the MOOC together, and learn together? Social constructionism – the philosophy upon which Moodle is based – in action!

We speak to three teachers of English from ITMO university who were part of a group of 17 who did just that. We find out what they gained from their MOOC experience and what they’d suggest for others planning to do the same. So let’s meet ESP co-ordinator Aleksandra Shparberg, EMI co-ordinator Maryam Reyhani and teacher (and Moodle fan!) John Kuti:

Moodle HQ: What prompted you to join the Learn Moodle Basics MOOC?

Aleksandra: We were designing an ESP (English for Specific Purposes) course from scratch as we had no textbooks. (We’re trying to design course components that relate to different STEM specialisations and some fields have very little ready-made material for them) One day a student told us that although he enjoyed our classes, he was overwhelmed with the number of handouts he had to keep in his bag! We began looking at different learning platforms to help alleviate this and John suggested we join the MOOC. While you can see examples of other platforms online, doing the MOOC was a really good way of actually trying out Moodle’s features to teach our speciality. I also signed up for a MoodleCloud site which was extremely helpful in the early stages.

Moodle HQ: What were your impressions of the MOOC?

Maryam: I appreciated being able to choose whether to access all the content at once or have it revealed week by week – this meant that participants could organise their time better, and the time needed during the four weeks was manageable.
I also really liked the collaborative wiki and the workshop peer assessment activity and look forward to trying those out with students!

John: As language teachers, we’re interested in the social and communicative approach popularised by Vygotsky and Moodle’s activities lend themselves well to this kind of teaching – which suits other subjects, not just languages.

Moodle HQ: What would you suggest to other organisations who are thinking of doing the MOOC together as a group?

Aleksandra: Ideally I’d say have a plan in place before the MOOC starts – know what you want the teachers to design with their courses, perhaps have a common task they can do together in a course, so they’re not only focused on their own areas. And although it’s difficult when teachers have busy timetables, it can also help to try to meet face to face to discuss and share experiences.

Moodle HQ: How can participants support each other during the MOOC?

John: When courses are shared for feedback during the MOOC, it’s important to visit your colleagues’ courses and give constructive advice. I have done the MOOC before and along with other ‘regulars’ I see this as an important aspect of learning together. I kept a list of the courses created by our own colleagues, but I also made time to comment on courses designed by others too. When you spend time setting up activities, it is rewarding to have someone take an interest.

Thanks Aleksandra, Maryam and John for sharing your experiences. If you decide to join the MOOC as a team, let us know how you get on!

Don’t forget, registration is now open for Learn Moodle 3.5 Basic MOOC. Book your spot today at learn.moodle.net!

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