Thoughts on delivering VLE / Moodle Training / Orientation Training for schools

Many schools are thinking of setting up, or re-booting their VLE at the start of the school year. Digilogue web development do this sort of work with schools all the time. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of working with one such school - below are some thoughts on the process of delivering orientation / training for their VLE which is Moodle, planning development of their VLE and ensuring that implementation will be a success. 

Where Do You Want To Go?

"If you don't know where you want to go, any route will do"

Most schools don't really know the following:
  • Where is my school now? ie what state is my VLE in, what functionality is there, to what extent can I do A B and C, and so on.
  • Where do we want to go? ie are there clear, achievable, planned, supported by management (ie by time set aside for training/CPD) GOALS that everyone is clear about?
  • How can we get there? ie what's the plan, what resources are needed, is the plan manageable and achievable etc.
Know Thine Audience:

So at the outset of training, I didn't ask how many people had experience of VLEs / Moodle - instead I asked how many people had tried Moodle, but essentially (because of time, resources, planning, their "real" jobs, etc.) failed. Most people raised there hand! So immediately, I knew I had to be very customised and responsive with my Moodle training / orientation - and more importantly manage and exceed their expectations. The eventual structure of the orientation turned out to be:

Moodle Training / Orientation Structure:

 

  1. Pedagogical Perspective: We're all teachers, we all want to engage our students and have fun and learn ourselves as we go along - so this MUST be the common-ground starting point.
  2. Personal Relevance: We thus looked (very very briefly!) at overall trends and contexts for tech in educatin, and then focused on a variety of Learning Tools (video, articulates, audio interviews, discussion options, assignment options, using Vimeo & Youtube etc, screencasts, Photostory 3, mashup tools etc. - and for every one of these, we looked at examples and then discussed how this might enhance engagementfor their particular courses/modules. What's in this for me? I need practical not theoretical. I need in-context samples, not exemplars
  3. Discussion and Agreement: Touchstone Time - As Marie Clay would say (paraphrasing!), take your learners from where they are, to where you want them. ie not from where you'd like them to be - and certainly not delivering training with no idea of where they are at! So at this stage, we talked through what Learning Tools each teacher thought had potential, which was achievable and which suited their materials and more importantly the 'Learning Experience' they wanted to facilitate
  4. Moodle Skills Workshop: Now that everyone had agreed on where to go, and how to get there - we started the Skills part of the orientation/training. This started at around 60% in - timewise - and might seem wasteful in terms of time-on-task, BUT my experience has taught me otherwise. For each priority skills they identified (uploading documents, linking to media, embedding video, setting up assignments, setting up a quiz / MCQ, setting up a Discussion Forum, etc.) I did a short demonstration - and then each and every teacher did the same with their materials into a sample course. Time allotment for each 'skill': 20% demo,  60% hands-on-practice, 20% discuss and learn from each other.
  5. More Discussion and Agreement: Again, Touchstone Time. questions and discussion about how each teacher could confidently implement the above skills and any questions arising.
  6. Achievable Plannning: Near the end of the session - I stopped. I never work up to the end-time. I find that stopping 20/30 minutes early to agree on what needs to happen next in order for the Moodle / VLE implementation to be successful MUST be given clear time. This time can uncover some hugely important logistical, management, or 'local' issues. These should be sorted while everyone is in the room, in positive perspective, excited about how they are going to enhance learning for their course. Who has to do what, and by when etc.

General Principles:

As a summary, these are what I'd recommend as Principles to live by, when delivering training in Moodle to schools and education organisations

  • Personal Relevance: Moodle training / Orientation must be customised for the particular school, group and individual teachers attending
  • Flipped Classroom - as a catalyst: For all the above - an excellent perspective to engender is 'how can I get the students to use these tools, to create the content, to share and discuss learning and perspectives, to be the greatest resource any teacher can have on her/his course - the student themselves!
  • Success breeds success: Aim realistically. I'd rather cover 40% of Moodle training, but leave with everyone fully practised, confident and enthusiastic about implementing - than cover 80% and leave with many teachers confused about skills (how to do stuff), planning (who's doing what and when) and content (what tools and approaches are best suited to my course). I prefer low-hanging fruit, I prefer teachers saying 'this is easy - how might I do this and this', I prefer 'wasting' time on planning so that the school and its teachers will come back in a few weeks and say 'great - we've done that, now we want to try more!'

Addendum: Issue Arising

(I thought it would be a nice idea to also jot down the real-world issue and questions that arose from a logistics / infrastruture POV)

  • Common Vs Individual: ie if there are common modules across courses, is it better to duplicate these to each course - or enrol students into one additional 'course'
  • Calendar: Implementing a site-wide calendar as well as individua course calendars
  • Communications: Using QuickMail or similar to enable teachers to send emails and also SMS to their students
  • Reminders: Integration of an email or SMS reminder functionality (ie your assignment is due in 72 hours)
  • HandItIn & Pliagarism: Integration of these modules
  • Cross Dept Pollination: eg media/IT helps Art/Beauty Therapy to develop video / other media
  • Moodle Front Page Management:
  • Attendance Plugin: Feasibility and how it would work in practice
  • Look and feel and social media integration (BTW, we used the theme 'Essential' for this project - which is really fabulous. It's relatively easy to set up, presents really well, is responsive so looks great on iPad and Smartphones - here's a peek (I won't show the full page for client confidentiality reasons ...)

About Digilogue:

 (General info about us: About Digilogue) Specific to Moodle Training / Orientation: Digilogue have >10 years experience with Moodle, designing learning and with education organisations. This is a summary of what Digilogue can do for you

  • Make the system work well
  • Make it look pretty
  • Make it easy to use (for students, for teachers)
  • Listen to what YOU want to do
  • Facilitate listening to each others’ ideas
  • Encourage you to use the best resource at your disposal
  • Help with any/all of the 'layers' - setting it up, delivering Moodle or other VLE orientation / training, helping with strategic planning, maintaining the system, etc.

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