Moodle Association of Japan members take New Technology Award in eLearning

The Japanese e-Learning Awards have recognized members of the Moodle Association of Japan for their research project with the New Technology Award. The awards seek to honour innovative technology and content for elearning, announced during the November three-day Forum in Tokyo. There were 122 proposals submitted, with 11 category winners.

The Moodle Association of Japan (MAJ) is an independent organisation that aims to pursue effective ways of utilising the learning platform for education, to promote new program development and to encourage communication among Moodlers in Japan and supported the awards Forum. MAJ Members Hideto Harashima, Mari Yamauchi and Thom Rawson were awarded the New Technology Award for their proposal around connecting Moodle sites for collaborative learning. They describe the research in their own words below. Moodle is proud to work with the Moodle Association of Japan and recognize their display of research excellence in their research proposal. Others are encouraged to participate by attending the Forum in 2015.

Connecting LMS for Resource Sharing and Collaborative Learning
The two collaborative online projects involving students from four universities in Japan constituted our first research. The unique characteristics of both these projects are, for one thing, MNET or Moodle Networking was utilized for linking LMS instances at each school, and secondly, PoodLL, a multimedia plugin for Moodle, was used to record and exchange audio and video materials among other things.

The first project was a Local Cultural Exchange, where EFL students introduced unique local products and interesting spots to students in remote areas by recording short videos in English, followed by forum discussions. A Forum was set up on a remote Moodle site where students logged in via MNET. They proceeded to post videos and share opinions and also to give ratings as peer evaluations – the default ratings permissions were overridden for that forum. PoodLL functioned as both a video recorder and player.

The second project took up the topic of World Heritage sites. Each student from the different universities chose one World Heritage site and introduced it to others by writing both a text description and also recording an audio attachment after doing the research. The Workshop module facilitated systematic pairing for peer evaluation with a rubric used for assessment. An extra color coding hack to core Moodle was utilized to identify each of the four school’s students.

At the end of these projects, a student feedback survey was administered and it revealed interesting reception of the projects by the students as well as some technical challenges faced by participants.

The second research involved using LTI or Learning Tools Interoperability. LTI is a method for giving remote access to a learning activity or course for the purpose of sharing learning outcomes. As of Moodle 2.4, a Moodle local plug-in allows a Moodle site to publish activities and courses as remotely accessible LTI objects for consumption. LTI is expected to become the eventual replacement for MNET.

LTI offers versatility and finer grain control over access to courses and more specifically specific activities within courses. External tools configured within a Moodle site can also receive grades from the LTI object they consume. MNET has no such function and grades remain on the remote Moodle site.

We implemented both LTI provision and LTI consumption using a collaborative school project called “Grand Canyon Adventure” in conjunction with the versatile PoodLL multimedia plugin.

The students each created a mock travel plan to the Grand Canyon and reported their plans in an LTI provided Moodle Database. Each database entry contained details about the trip including the price, itinerary and so on. The PoodLL Whiteboard module also allowed students to add a custom hand-drawn postcard containing a Grand Canyon image as the background.

Once the entries were completed, students then commented and peer-reviewed each other. We confirmed that each set of points received in the ratings from peer reviews were automatically reflected in the grade books of the consuming local Moodle sites. The project was overall successful and the students enjoyed it

Moving forward, we have plans to continue this work in developing collaborative activities for the participant schools in our research team.

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