March 21 2011

Moodle Enables A Radical Approach To Learning

Written by Shevy Levy

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This excellent video of A Radical New Approach To learning, a talk by University of British Columbia Marketing Instructor Paul Cubbon on the benefits of “blended learning” (read: eLearning plus more traditional teaching methods) gives some insight into how online course development tools like Moodle can be used to inspire and pass knowledge on to students at the same time.

Paul notes that when he first announced his course, he was told not to expect too much – indeed, since they were setting up the course late in the game, they likely wouldn’t even get enough sign-ups to move forward with actually teaching it. But within 37 seconds of advertising the course, he had 90 students signed up (Today the course has 500 students signed up). What got these students so excited about it – and what maintained their excitement throughout?

When Paul launched this course that was going to use a blended learning approach, he knew what he wanted to avoid: the classic situation of students feeling bored and ignored in the classroom. “Why are students bored?” he asks. “They didn’t sign up and spend money coming to university and get good grades because they weren’t interested in learning. It’s because someone is boring them.” This is a common complaint at universities where hundreds of students may fill a single auditorium. Yet this type of environment makes it impossible to foster a feeling of engagement and responsibility for learning on the part of the student. And it’s the perfect reason to use tools like Moodle to engage students. 

Paul’s pilot course made several innovations to ensure students were “as energized at the end of a class as they were at the beginning of a class”. 

  • In lieu of exams, students had to create a visual mind-map displaying what they’d learned that was relevant to them.
  • Students blogged regularly, tracking business news and journal articles and connecting these items to their lessons.
  • Real-time chat channels were set up during certain lessons to ensure maximum participation for group projects.
  • Students were given a wide range of assignments in various formats to ensure wide coverage of topics and to “keep them too busy to get bored.”

Moodle makes it easy to put these innovations into practice for K-12 curricula, university campus courses and business training programs. For instance:

The Moodle Mindmap module (naturally) allows you to build mindmaps – whether for course-end review or for projects along the way.

  • As we mentioned in Moodle 2.0. Community Hubs, Blogs And More, Moodle offers students a blogging capability (as well as the ability to share blog content across platforms).
  • Moodle allows for instant chat capability (for instance, for projects requiring teamwork of students in different locations) via third-party services like OpenMeeting and DimDim.
  • The capability of adding resources, content and tools for an infinite assortment of lessons is one of the key reasons teachers and trainers use Moodle in the first place. Incorporate quizzes, tests, video content, images, files… whatever a teacher needs to keep students learning and on their toes.

If you are an educator or business trainer looking into using Moodle for blended learning to avoid “bored-students” syndrome, contact us to help you implement the eLearning system and train you how to use Moodle’s full capabilities

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