Our Moodle Fairy takes #FeatureFriday to Russia to show how Moodle can be used to teach English.

Teaching English with Moodle

Recently our very own Mary Cooch, Moodle’s Community Educator (or possibly you know her as our Moodle Fairy) attended a conference on English for Specific Purposes at the prestigious ITMO university in Russia.

How did our Moodle Fairy get there?

Well as you might know, Mary is one of the dedicated Moodlers behind our Learn Moodle Basics MOOC, a free four week course designed to help our community use our award winning platform and connect them with Moodle users from around the world.

Several of the English faculty members from ITMO University completed the last Learn Moodle Basics 3.4 MOOC in January and was impressed with Mary’s facilitation that she was invited to give an overview of Moodle and explain its possibilities for teaching in English.

At her recent presentation, Mary divided Moodle’s pros into four areas and chose to talk only of standard or free plugins. Let’s take a look at what she highlighted:

Reading

  • Drag and drop reading materials (such as PDFs) onto the course page
  • Readings are accessible to mobile app and device users with Moodle’s Page resource and Book resource
  • Quiz features

Listening

  • As with your documents, easily drag and drop sound and video files,
  • Embedded YouTube videos to watch/listen to and set them a writing task to summarise it
  • Use of the RecordRTC plugin to record extracts of poems
  • Speaking

  • Video conferencing within Moodle such as, Big Blue Button, the open-source video conferencing system
  • Speaking homework with RecordRTC’s video option which allows learners to make a mini-presentation as an assignment.
  • Writing

  • Moodle’s wiki activity for non-graded or collaborative writing,
  • For graded written tasks Moodle’s Assignment activity
  • Template in the Quiz essay question
  • General

    Some ideas for all subjects, not just English and other language teachers:

  • Activity completion to allow visible progress tracking for students and teachers
  • The checklist activity (part of MoodleCloud) or the popular completion progress block for more detailed (and motivational) tracking
  • Gamification strategies to motivate students,
  • Competencies for matching activities with learners’ targets.
  • As well as conducting a presentation, Mary also attended the Competencies and Learning plans in ESP courses workshop on the second day of the conference. This was run by John Kuti of ITMO and was in the style of a worldcafe, where attendees sat in groups at different tables, explored an issue, moved around, and so on.

    Mary described it as ‘a kind of musical chairs with added learning’!

    During the workshop attendees looked at the Common European Framework Reference for Languages and how it could be enhanced for ESP teaching, and how such a competency framework would fit into a Moodle course.

    John presenated a sample learning plan and competencies set up in a course on his Moodle site for participants to explore. (Download the CEFR as a Moodle Competency framework from Moodle.net here.)

    To find out more about Mary’s adventures in Russia, in her own words, check out her blog.

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