Moodler Monday with our own community educator & Moodle fairy, Mary Cooch

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As you may know, each week on Monday we are showcasing the people behind Moodle to show our thanks for their contribution in helping us advance our mission: “empowering educators to improve our world.

Our many Moodlers include key players within our global community, our Moodle Partner network and members of Moodle HQ.

Did you see our first Moodler Monday interview with our Open Source Coordinator, Sander Bangma?

This week we recognise a Moodler whom many affectionately know as “Moodle Fairy” and who has been a vital team member at Moodle HQ for several years. We’re excited to interview  our Community Educator, Mary Cooch.

Previously a teacher, Mary is now most notably recognised for her work in our community sites, in Learn Moodle, in our Tracker and if you have ever watched one of the MOOC and Moodle major release videos (which Mary creates) you may also refer to her as “the voice of Moodle”.

This Moodler Monday, let’s find out more about our Mary Cooch!

Moodle HQ: Hi Mary, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. Let’s kick things off with finding out a bit about yourself.

For those who are new to Moodle or have not had the pleasure of talking to you yet, can you tell us about your background and how you got into education, Moodle and online learning?

Mary: From 1985 I was a UK high school languages teacher, and around 13 years ago when my school set up a computer room with full internet access, I began to experiment with a very basic WYSIWYG website for my students with class and homework tasks. Then in 2006 I won a year’s free web hosting in a competition and got them to  install me a Moodle site, as I’d read about it online. Moodle was great for language teaching because of its multimedia features. I didn’t realise at the time that our IT teachers were trialling a whole-school Moodle, and when they saw I was experimenting on my own, they invited me to join their trial, thinking (rightly!) it was good to have non-technical, non-IT teachers showcasing and promoting Moodle. Over the next few years I used Moodle more, helping the teachers in our connected primary/elementary schools and was even approached to write a couple of books about it. After an exciting trip to the Sydney MoodleMoot in 2011, I joined HQ part time to help document the new Moodle 2.0, and then from 2013, joined the team full time.

Moodle HQ: At Moodle your role is Community Educator. Can you let us know on a day to day, monthly, yearly basis what being a Community Educator involves?

Mary: To remix an old saying, “Once a teacher, always a teacher”. I see my main role as helping non-technical educators (like myself) to make efficient use of Moodle whatever their teaching/training environment. My duties include helping Helen Foster facilitate the community forums, explaining new features in documentation and adding examples to our School demonstration site, Mount Orange. I curate donated resources on our sharing hub (and am looking forward to seeing how this will be incorporated into the new, MoodleNet project.) Twice a year I co-facilitate the Learn Moodle Basics MOOC, which I love because it is aimed at people just like me. I also make screencasts for our MOOC and  each new Moodle version – which takes a lot longer than people realise 🙂

Moodle HQ: You have been a Moodler for twelve years and a member of Moodle HQ for five – congratulations! What are some of your most memorable moments? What have been the biggest changes you have seen with and in Moodle?

Mary: Aside from the adrenalin from the first ever Learn Moodle MOOC live session in 2013, my memorable moments are the MoodleMoots because you always learn something new from the interesting people you meet. I’ve especially appreciated non-English speaking moots because they’ve given me a chance to practise my languages, something I love to do. In terms of changes, Moodle has been at the forefront of mobile learning, with the  Moodle Mobile app now allowing students to do all standard Moodle activities on the go. It has also been pleasing to note the increasing emphasis on pedagogy in recent years. Anyone can put handouts on Moodle, but to really challenge learners, you have to involve and engage them. Moodle HQ is expanding rapidly, meaning we can deliver more of what is important to educators.

Moodle HQ: As a member of the communications and education team, you wear a lot of hats! From an education in Moodle perspective what key projects can our global community look forward to in 2018?

Mary: The Education team, headed by Tom Murdoch, is busy developing a whole curriculum of courses to help educators enhance their online teaching skills.  I am also excited by the MoodleNet project, led by Doug Belshaw, which promises to make our community even larger and Moodle support and resources even more accessible.

Moodle HQ: Lastly Mary, for the many global community members new to Moodle or just starting out, what do you recommend they do to get to know the capabilities of the learning platform and then fall in love with their Moodle?

Mary: Don’t be afraid to ask any questions in the (multilingual) community forums. And get a MoodleCloud site! MoodleCloud has been a great initiative allowing new Moodlers to try Moodle for free. Combine this either with our MOOC or its connected video playlists and it is now much easier for regular educators to familiarise themselves with Moodle. My History teacher daughter is a good example: she got a free MoodleCloud site to add  some revision quizzes for her exam class; it proved so popular that she moved up to a Moodle For School site for all her classes, and now her colleagues and the school admins are asking how they can get Moodle for the whole school!

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today Mary!

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