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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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)

Optional:

  • 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

Teaching with Moodle MOOC Starts in Few Days

2015-08-07_23-40-18

This introductory Teaching with Moodle Mooc is a must for all teachers, instructors, or anyone who is willing to start teaching with Moodle. It is activity-based and lasts only 4 weeks. You will get the opportunity to get tutorials, design you own Moodle courses, interact with international community interested in teaching with Moodle, and much more. All of this is facilitated by guru Moodlers (Mary Cooch) and Moodle community moderators. Go to Moodle Mooc site and register; hurry up! Don’t forget to connect via twtitter with @learnmoodle and #learnmoodle.

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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

Elearningindustry

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

 

mobile-app

 

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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05 Aug 2015

Moodle Mobile 2.0 is finally Out!

 

With the ubiquity of mlearning, an increased interest has been put on learning through mobile applications. Moodle has embraced the mlearning revolution from the outset, although has been slow in releasing a mobile app with advanced features. After releasing Moodle Mobile, two days ago Martin Dougiamas announced the release of 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.

The main features of MM2 are:

UI/UX changes and improvements

  • Improved User Interface
  • Application faster and smoother
  • Courses can be filtered
  • Application now supports pull to refresh in most screens
  • Splash screen now available for different resolutions and orientations
  • Infinite scrolling available in Participants, Calendar events, Forum discussions, Notifications (instead of pagination or show more buttons)

 

General improvements

  • App storage no longer limited to 5MB – depending on your device it can be between 50MB and your SD card capacity
  • Calendar events can be seen offline
  • Complete user profile information is displayed
  • The complete user profile can be accessed from every page (participants, forum, messages)
  • Settings and preferences are simplified
  • * Improved multi-site push notifications

 

New functionalities:

  • Local notifications multi-site support (open the site referred to in the notification)
  • If the token expires during your session, you are asked to re-enter your password to continue working (instead of having to close the session)
  • Resources downloading status is preserved even when the user changes section or pages

 

New supported plugins and Moodle features:

  • Activity completion: Activity completion status is displayed and can be updated for courses
  • New add-on: Choices – Users can make a choice and view responses
  • New add-on: Notes – Teachers can view site, course and personal notes
  • New add-on: Book – Users can view books
  • New add-on: IMS CP – Users can view IMS content packages
  • New add-on: Chat – Users can participate in the live chat via the app (only for sites using simple or Ajax chats; daemon chat not supported)

 

Moodle Mobile 2.0 is available for Android & IOS and will be avaialble on other platforms soon. You can also download it directly here.

This is a great step in Moodle’s mobile roadmap. We anticipate more advanced Moodle Mobile app in the near future.

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