I have just returned from Melbourne after attending the Moodlemoot AU 2010 conference, The moot was a great opportunity for high school, VET, higher education, RTO and corporate educators to come together to learn, swap, discuss and experience new ways of using Moodle in their particular field; it was attended by some 450 educators and IT specialists from around Australia and overseas.
The conference program was diverse and interesting with ample time to meet and talk with colleagues during which I noticed a recurring topic of discussion- many delegates were not sure that they were “doing it right” when developing courses or resources for their students or clients. It seemed that when it came to using the tools within Moodle to design a teaching and learning program a crisis of confidence emerged. Why is this? The tools that are available in Moodle are an analogy for the methods we currently employ in our face to face teaching practice; Choices- ‘put your hand up to vote’, Forum- classroom discussion, Offline assignment- practical demonstration, Upload a single file- hand in an assignment , Book- a paper hand out etc.
Moodle is not, and never will be a substitute for good teaching practice, one that encourages student engagement and enthusiasm and as a result supports good learning outcomes, what it can do though is give you and your students an opportunity to do things differently whether that be a student posting a video blog instead of writing 500 words or a teacher asking for rich media additions to a course glossary instead of submitting two sentences on a piece of paper.
A teacher’s role does change with blended learning that incorporates Moodle, but it doesn’t remove the fundamental teaching practices and experiences that we have always employed; it merely gives us an opportunity to take our students on a different, more learner centred path.
Don’t be fearful of moving your teaching practice to a blended approach, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing- you choose how much your current teaching practice changes and by how much. With regard to Moodle or other newer methods of teaching delivery and practice: they are merely tools to help you get the best from your students and like any skill Moodle can be learnt over time with practice and the help from others.
Are you suffering a crisis of confidence when you contemplate a move to Moodle and blended learning? I’d be interested in your comments.
Team Leader, Learning Innovation