28 Jun 2017

Students Look for Quality Online Learning, Not Convenience

The sixth annual Online College Students report, developed by The Learning House, Inc. and Aslanian Market Research, shares an interesting, albeit intuitive in hindsight, findings on prospective and recently graduated online college students. The findings points out to the importance of the online “social presence” via communication and being part of an online community, expanding opportunities of online education, students’ remorse in buying an online course,  and more importantly online students’  growing knowledge and preference of competency-based education.


Key Findings

Key findings include:

  • They Want to Be Part of a Community. More than half of respondents say interaction with classmates and instructors is important to them, and about a quarter say online courses could be improved by more contact with their instructors and more engagement with classmates. Fifty-nine percent travel to campus between one and five times per year, for reasons such as meeting their instructor or meeting with a study group.


  • Students Are Expanding Their Search to More Schools. While the majority of students continue to stay close to home, the number of schools students consider has expanded. More students contacted or requested information from three or more schools (52 percent), an increase from 2016 (29 percent). The number of students considering only one institution fell from 30 percent to 18 percent.


  • They Experience Buyer’s Remorse. While online students tend to make their decisions quickly, 59 percent would change some part of their search for an online program if they had to do it over again. Twenty-three percent of current and past online college students wished they had contacted more schools during the selection process, whereas others wished they learned more about the tuition and fees (17 percent) or their financial aid package (16 percent).


  • They Have High Interest in Competency-Based Education. Online students are increasingly aware of competency-based programs. The percentage of respondents who say they have not heard of competency-based education has decreased, with 27 percent reporting no awareness of CBE in 2017, down from 35 percent in 2013.



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26 Jun 2017

A New, Open Online Course for Educators Trying to Effectively Integrate Technology



got tpack

Using TPACK Framework for Effective Technology Integration in Teaching


In our new open online, self-access course, on ilearn.today,  you will learn how to use the TPACK Framework to effectively integrate educational technology in your teaching.
It assists you  to develop competencies that will enable you to plan systemically for the selection, utilization and evaluation of technology tools and resources in a pedagogically appropriate manner.
This  open course is designed to be different from most other faculty professional development courses on technology.  While others tend to focus on simply learning the technology tools, leaving it up to the participants to make the connection to pedagogy and content knowledge, this course is based on TPACK which provides for an integrated approach to combining technology, pedagogy and content knowledge.

A digital badge and a certificate of completion will also be provided.

Mode of participation: Online, preferred to sign up in teams for discussions and reflections.


This course is designed so that you will leave with:

  • A broader awareness and understanding of the technologies that can be used by teachers to positively impact teaching and learning
  • An introduction to emerging teaching and learning technologies
  • An awareness and familiarity of the resources available to educators for technology integration
  • Familiarity and experience with TPACK and tools to assess
  • Insights on how your own course syllabus/ lesson plans might change based on what you have learned in the course
  • The ability to assist colleagues (and students) in applying technology to their own teaching and learning activities

Topic Areas:

  • The changing nature of education, students and the modern workplace
  • The TPACK Framework
  • Evaluation tools to assess TPACK
  • Technology utilized will vary


  • Discussion forums
  • E-tivities
  • Final Assessment : Performance assessment (mini-lesson demonstration with technology using the TPACK) (assessed by peers)

Activity Overview

  • Introduction to TPACK and unPACKing TPACK 
  • TPACK Scenario
  • Case studies
  • Activity Types, assessments, and templates
  • (re)design a lesson to integrate technology



Sign up now and take your teaching to the next level.

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23 Jul 2016

Student Competencies and Learning Plans in Moodle 3.1 that You Really Need to Harness


The new trend of competency based education is taking the education institutions by storm. Personally, I do not think it is a fad and that it might wither away down the road. Competency based education advocates have been diligently at work for years to make it seep into the educational institutions’ culture. INACOL’s latest project  Competencyworks is one example. As defined by CompetencyWorks, competency education

refers to a systems model in which (1) teaching and learning are designed to ensure students are becoming proficient by advancing on demonstrated mastery and (2) schools are organized to provide timely and differentiated support to ensure equity. A competency-based structure enables personalized learning to provide flexibility and supports to ensure mastery of the highest standards possible. With clear and calibrated understanding of proficiency, learning can be tailored to each student’s strengths, needs, and interests and enable student voice and choice in what, how, when, and where they learn.

Some of the characteristics of CBE are, as defined by CompetencyWorks, ar =e

  • Students advance upon mastery.
  • Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students.
  • Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
  • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions.


Educational vendors, especially, educational technology vendors, have capitalized on CBE, sometimes renaming it as  mastery-based education, to bring in customers. Moodle, the open source learning management system, has added Competencies features for its new Moodle 3.1 release that administrators, teachers, and students, if using them right, will find them remarkably beneficial.

Competencies in Moodle 3.1

Competencies features are broken into three parts in Moodle, and each part is interacted differently by Moodle admins, Moodle course teachers, and Moodle students.

1. Competency Framework is where the Moodle administrator names the framework with which teachers and students will work on.

2. Competencies are the competencies that the Admin links to the competency Frameworks and then Moodle Admin or the teacher can link the competency to the course. Teachers can also link activities to competencies.

3. Student Learning Plan is where the student with the help of the teacher constructs a learning plan and links it to competencies that he or she needs to meet.


Below is a video playlist of three parts on how teachers, admin and students can use competencies in Moodle.


Moodle also has two plugins if you need to import or export competencies. This comes it really easy to transfer competencies in and out of Moodle instead of manually entering them.

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18 Jul 2016

Educators’ Online Professional Learning Practices and Experiences: An infographic


More than ever, educators in k-12 schools and higher education are using online courses, communities, and resources for professional learning. Online professional learning is convenient in terms of time and place, two factors face-to-face workshops and conferences do not and cannot provide. This results in more ingrained and situated professional learning as educators get the time to experiment in their daily work, reflect on significance, and then re-iterate, amend, or quit an education method, technique, or approach. But, what is the nature of educators’ online professional learning practices and experiences? Why do educators choose online professional learning? What are the common topics they seek to develop? and via what means do they seek their online professional learning? To answer these questions, the Education Technology Industry Network of SIIA conducted a survey of world-wide k-20 educators. The Report summarizes the results from the 2016 Vision K-20 Professional Learning (PL) Survey. The Vision K-20 PL Survey asks K-20 education leaders around the globe to provide information about their online professional learning practices and experience. The results from this survey will help us and our partners better understand how K-20 educators are using online professional learning opportunities and what they hope to gain from them. The report includes an interesting infographic that mainly contrasts how k-12 and higher education educators experience and practice via their online professional learning.



The report shows how education technology vendors might be spending more effort in developing to meet the needs and interests of educators. One questions still stands however, are vendors overselling their products to educators? and are educators in turn, as their schools are, falling into the trap of “wow” factor of technology?

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27 Jun 2016

Moodle Has Outdone Itself in Moodle 3.1 Release

Gold fish with shark flipWith Moodle 3.1 release in May, Moodle has really improved in it updates. We all know the myriad of updates Moodle has been with in the past couple of years due to coping with the exponential explosion of new web features and LMSs vendors. The Moodle 3.1 release includes many new features and improvements of earlier features. See below a video list of Moodle 31. overview and video explanation of new as well as improved features.



New and Updated Feature Include:

For Teachers


For Administrators


For All Users


One particular new feature that Moodle 3.1 has included is the Competency Based Education (CBE) Module. This is a great move from Moodle Headquarters as the current trend of education is for competency based. In addition to  linking courses to Competencies that students need to meet, CBE module includes an educational plan, a great feature the helps personalizing the experiential factor of learning and supporting the learners’ metacognition. In a later post, I will discuss how CBE feature potential can be maximized.

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15 Aug 2015

Here’s How to Make Your Moodle Course a Social Learning Course


In an earlier post, 7 Reasons Why Moodle Should Be Your Preferred LMS, I argued that because of its openness and easy customization, Moodle eats any other LMS on breakfast Smile  In this post, I will show you how you can create a social learning course that has the same look and feel, but with much more features, like Edmodo and Google Classroom, both are highly used by k12 schools. This is done by a new Course Format plugin called Socialwall. (Warning: If you have a course set up and want to change its format to Socialwall, be careful as it might yield to undesirable results).

So, let’s assume you had this boring course last year with a focus on topics. Your course includes topics that students should engage in and submit assignments, collaborate, etc. and then move on to a new topic. However, for this year you want to make communication and social learning as central, not topics. You look at Edmodo, Elgg,Google Classroom etc. and like what you see. Now, with the course format plugin called Socialwall you can do just that in Moodle.

The Moodle Socialwall will transform your Moodle course into a social learning platform. This includes a familiar post interface, timeline of posts, filtering of the timeline, and integration with Moodle’s activities and resources. A social learning format allows teachers to pick up the tool and begin using it right away.

Socialwall Official Page on Moodle

Here’s a Quick Slideshow and Video Introducing Socialwall




Installation and Use

Here’s a Google Hangout on How to Install and use Sociallwall course format.


Read the full capabilities of Socialwall on the official Moodle site.

Socialwall is part of a set of plugins that you also need to install. Go to the Socialwall plugin set to install them too. These include:

  • a new Course Format (called socialwall, format_socialwall)


  • a new Filter (filter_urlresource) to alter the way a posted url-Resource will be displayed
  • a local plugin (local_filterurlresbak) to backup and restore the filter data (unfortunately moodle doesn’t support backup and restore for filter data).
  • a new Block to display upcoming events and alerts related to the course (block_alerts).


So, what do you think of Socialwall course format? Will focus on social learning instead of topical learning work with your students, at your institution? Will it work better with corporate learning? Have you used any social learning platforms before like Elgg or Edmodo? How do they compare?

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07 Aug 2015

7 Reasons Why Moodle Should Be Your Preferred LMS

Forget about all proprietary LMSs, vendors shoving their LMSs down the educational institutions’,  corporates’, and edupreneurs’ prefrontal lobe (a region in the brain responsible for decision making). All claiming that their LMS will result in measurable learning achievements, with ROI and all that nonsense. If you have been long enough in the ( e )learning domain like me, you should know that LMSs don’t make much a difference in learning outcome. Yes, you should evaluate LMSs based on your learning needs, but that’s just it, learning needs change and evolve to fit the perpetual needs of your school, university, or corporation. This is why you need an LMS which is generic, adaptable, versatile and open. Some edtech vendors claim that their product supports collaboration, others communication, another instructor-based. Still more claim that their LMS is interactive (although interactivity has little to do with achievement). More vendors claim that they have conducted (biased) research proving (yeah!) that their LMS resulted in a corporate’s ROI, a school students’ achievement because of its “personalization features”. I have always pointed out to educators and learning specialists that there is a continuous push and pull between pedagogy and technology; each affecting and reshaping the other.

As an educator, I fell in love with Moodle because of its continuous evolution, openness, versatility, and adaptability; a Swiss knife that works great if you know which tool to use for the right reason and the right time. Whenever I hear the word “Moodle” it incites the warm, fuzzy feeling of a great environment to enrich and optimize learning. Below are 7 reasons (out of many others) why Moodle must be your preferred LMS.

1. Openness

Moodle’s openness means that it is open source (free), and will always be, and that anyone can tweak Moodle to fit their institution learning needs. All you need is a robust Moodle hosting service with good technical support and you shouldn’t worry about a thing. You have to have a Moodle admin among your personnel to manage the whole Moodle site however. And now, with the SaaS (Software as a Service) is on the rise, you shouldn’t worry a bit about the technical glitches, support etc.

2. Versatility

Did I mention above that Moodle is like a Swiss Knife? Well, it’s an evolving Swiss Knife. Although it has a tool for every intended activity/task/objective, its tools always get better, and more varied. All of this is thanks to Moodle’s regular upgrades based on users’ feedback and suggestions. Moodle is packed with features that you do not find in any proprietary LMS provider. Take my word for it. You only need to know, and teach with Moodle for some time to realize how versatile it is. I have tried and taught using many other LMSs at universities, schools, and professional development courses. LMSs like Docebo, Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Canvas, Edmodo, you name it, None got close to Moodle versatile Swiss knife capabilities.

3. Adaptability

Being an open source LMS means that anyone can adapt Moodle to their needs. There are some edtech companies that have built their LMSs on Moodle or Moodle distribution (e.g. Totara, Joule). Totara for example is a customized Moodle distribution that targets the corporate sector. Well, you don’t have to go this far to adapt Moodle for your needs. All it takes is some planning in terms of matching the feature you need to the learning outcome you wish to achieve. Then, you can have someone, a freelancer, one of your IT personnel, a Moodle service provider or a Moodle partner to add that feature or plugin. For example, why would one need to use Edmodo, a social approach to an LMS largely adopted by K12 school, while you can have all it capabilities in Moodle? (I will publish another post showing how this can be done)

4. Bridging the Digital Divide

Now, this is one of my favorites “bridging the digital divide”. By definition, the digital divide is the ability for some students/learners to access technological resources easily while others cannot, or can only do it sparingly. Since Moodle is open source, thus it’s free, thus it is less expensive to install and deploy, the technology fee incurred on the institution and thus the learners/students will be much less. I recall in the days when we were considering to use Blackboard for our students, the price tag was so expensive that we had to reconsider the tuition fees. Educational institutions many times adopt proprietary LMSs like Blackboard and Canvas because they give a feel that their institution is of a high stature. I asked this question to my professor when I was doing my masters degree in edtech and TESOL. He said that using a proprietary LMS gives a sense to the students and faculty that this university is prestigious. It has nothing to do with adaptability, engagement, etc. it has to do with prestige. Yet, still some prestigious universities use Moodle ( AUB, Open University, ASU etc.) because they believe by using Moodle you feel at home. You have the sense that you own the LMS not that you subscribe to the LMS. You have the sense that you can mold it the way you want, and as you see it fit.

5. Support Community

You will never find a more responsive, more diverse, and larger support community than that of Moodle. Head to Moodle community now and you will know what I mean. The support comes mainly from users around the globe who use Moodle like you, and there community moderators who support and respond very efficiently from technical to pedagogical aspects of Moodle environment. Unlike other propreitry LMS, users are the ones who take charge more than the platform support team. You directly feel that you are with like-minded people at Moodle community who have closely similar objectives and who are willing to share and support each other. There is even research community on the impact of Moodle or how research impact how Moodle is developed. However,  support community is not only confined to moodle.org, many blogger, tweeters, PLCs have created their own presence online to help other users to teacher with Moodle.

6. Omnipresence

Moodle pops up in all learning sectors, in the health care, k12 schools, corporates, universities, freelancers teaching online, you name it. Moodle’s highly adaptable inherent characteristic makes it fit for all learning needs. Moodle is also present around the globe (at least those that have registered), in multiple languages. In fact, there are many Moodle users whose language is not English. The omnipresence of Moodle, in terms of sectors and geographical locations, makes it the unbeatable LMS.

Moodle seems has the most users in the Learning Management System market. It currently boasts an estimated 73.8 million users. Edmodo comes in second and Blackboard rounds out the top 3, with around 20 million users each


moodle stats

Moodle is also second in terms of number of satisfied customers (remember that it is open source, and so it relies on the Moodle provider or whoever is managing Moodle for supporting customers).

Not to forget that Moodle has been consistently chosen by many reviewers and critics as one of the top learning tools/ LMS consistently every year. It has been chosen by PCmag as the best LMS in 2015.


7. Moodle is now Mobile

With the ubiquity of mlearning, Moodle developers have met the Moodle users’ needs by developing Moodle Mobile. Although it has limited functionality now, this shows that Moodle is on the right track and that more developments will see light in the near future. Few days ago Moodle announced the Moodle Mobile 2.0 with

it’s a completely new app built from the ground up, and you’ll soon notice a cleaner-looking, snappier app with some cool new features




Do you have some additional reasons why Moodle should be everyone’s LMS of choice? Share your reasons in the comments below !

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