What’s it like to work with a MoodleCloud site for a school classroom?

August 24, 2017

Here at Moodle, our mission is and always has been about empowering educators to improve our world!

We work hard with our strong community members around the globe to do this by providing a secure and private platform filled with many powerful and flexible tools for collaborative online learning.

We also talk a lot about the powerful and flexible tools in Moodle that assist educators, of any kind, to engage learners in an online space.

But we don’t want you to just take our word for it! Let’s talk to someone who is using a MoodleCloud site to deliver courses to learners.

Say hello to Kellie Winter, Head of Department – Junior Secondary, at Smithfield State High School in Queensland, Australia on what it’s like to work with a MoodleCloud site for a school classroom!

Moodle HQ: Thank you, Kellie, for taking the time to chat to us today! We really appreciate it.

Perhaps we can start with a little introduction about yourself and Smithfield State High School and for our global audience to get a picture of?

Kellie: Thank you for providing an opportunity to share my experiences with the Moodle community.

I have been an educator in secondary schooling for over 25 years, first in New South Wales than in Far North Queensland. Smithfield State High School is a comprehensive secondary school, located on the Northern Beaches of Cairns, with an enrollment of just under 1000 students, from Year 7 to Year 12.

My position on the Leadership Team at Smithfield High involves, amongst other things, coordination of our Junior Learning Academy. This is a pathway program for academically motivated students wishing to develop the skills and capabilities to achieve a placement at university post high school studies.

Within this program, we are always looking for tools that will engage our students and enable them to experience aspects of 21st Century blended learning. Moodle has become one of those tools.

Moodle HQ: How did you first hear about Moodle and why did you consider looking at a learning platform for the school and for your classroom?

Kellie: I first worked with Moodle when involved with the Western NSW Region Selective High School Provision – XCEL.

A ‘virtual school’ that catered for academically gifted students in regional and remote areas. The Moodle platform was utilised as a storage base for student work and assessment materials. It’s colourful and engaging format, and kid friendly operations proved very popular.

For teachers in this program, collaboratively posting work and manipulating courses to suit the needs of the Learning Program could be successfully managed from remote and distant locations.

Moodle was the basis of our early successes.

So when the move toward a blended learning environment in our Academy classrooms at Smithfield High was first mooted by school leaders, Moodle for me seemed the obvious choice.

Moodle HQ: What was the deciding factor for getting a MoodleCloud site? And can you describe your startup process of getting one of our sites?

Kellie: The starting point on our journey into Moodle was as simple as sitting beside a colleague during a meeting and asking, “Have you ever heard of Moodle?” With just a few clicks on the keyboard I could show him where MoodleCloud was, and what Moodle could do.

From there I simply signed up and began creating. One feature I appreciate was the small introduction course on our MoodleCloud site to get started.

It helped to reinforce the Introduction to Moodle Course MOOC which I completed initially years ago through Moodle HQ and have since done it again as the MOOCs are terrific refreshers.

The modules were well paced. The video support was, and still is fabulous! Clear, concise instructions on everything needed to get a Moodle site started.

Even now, when I want to try something new, I simply refer to the Moodle Manual or my stash of video clips and in no time my students have a new activity to try.

Moodle HQ: How are you using your MoodleCloud site at the moment? Is it to deliver courses for a classroom or for other purposes?

Kellie: I currently use Moodle for all of the courses I teach in the Learning Academy Program – from English literature and Literacy to History, Geography and of course, Digital Technologies.

My students simply move from course to course throughout the day to access content and assessment materials. It has become a marvellous way to keep them organised, and revision of course content is at their fingertips.

No more lost worksheets! They enjoy the Moodle quizzes, and readily share ideas on blogs. Moodle makes for an effective Flipped Classroom tool – I simply tell students what to access on the site for their lesson the next day.

I can give my students access to so much more resourcing than there is ever a time to deliver in a physical classroom setting.

Feedback from parents has also been positive, as they are able to see what it is their child is doing at school from week to week. I find I have less enquiries from parents as regards course expectations, as the entire body of a work program can be seen by following the topics down the screen.

Moodle HQ: What features and functionalities of your MoodleCloud site do you enjoy using most or is empowering for teachers?

And, if your students are also using the site, what do they enjoy using most?

Kellie: Tough question … I love it all!

The capacity to organise the resources for an entire unit of work in one place – starting at the top with Unit overviews, assessment task sheets and exemplars; unfolding from introductory and immersion activities to an evolving glossary, worksheets and skills building exercises; moving down the course page where activities of growing complexity are interspersed with student work products they post onto the site; then time for quizzes and forums and chat … before students can post their final assessment task onto the site where it is date and time stamped for verification of submission.

What’s not to love?

My students enjoy sharing ideas, so their favourite feature is when I set up a Forum or a Chat session and they can bounce ideas and planning off each other. I honestly start to feel redundant in the classroom some days!

Moodle HQ: Lastly, how do you see Smithfield State High School using MoodleCloud for the future?

What other potential for more collaborative and engaging learning can you see with MoodleCloud?

Kellie: Moodle is an evolving thing at Smithfield State High School. I keep reminding myself that from little things, big things grow!

As more students and colleagues see the advantages of Moodle as a platform the interest is growing. One advantage is the affordability of the product – it costs nothing to experiment.

A colleague recently asked me if I could help her set up a Moodle course as a networking platform for a Writer’s Project she is coordinating with other schools. Through Moodle, the teachers involved in this project can post work samples, share resources and engage in forums about the success stories in their individual schools.

What’s next? I might see what my student leaders can do with a Moodle site of their own – there is a lot of potential in this platform for developing a student voice.


Thank you again, Kellie, for taking the time to talk to us about your MoodleCloud site.

If you would like to find out more about Smithfield State High School please visit their website.
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