Ice flowing down the Detroit River
MACUL 2015 kicked off yesterday. I presented a pre-conference session titled “Moodle- Making it Work for you”. This is a session that I co-present with Mr. Chris Kenniburg. We had a great session. The pre-conference sessions are offered at an additional cost to the attendees. We had a solid group. The questions that they asked were spot on.
The session is always a challenge because there is so much material that we could cover. Thus, the first thing that we always have to do is to find out who is in the audience. A teacher is going to be looking for different answers, different tips, different resources than a Moodle site administrator. This is partly why the presentation has been so very different. Sometimes the audience is composed of mostly teachers; sometimes mostly site administrators. Sometimes, we get people who are both. Our audience this time was a mix. There were slightly more teachers than site administrators, but both groups were in represented.
We began with an overview of why Moodle works and a broad view of how to customize Moodle to work more fluidly. We also discussed how Moodle can do just about anything that you want it to do. However, many people don’t really know what it can do. Part of the presentation for teachers is to learn what is possible so that they can ask the site administrator to set up certain plug-ins, features, filters, themes, etc. We also stress to Moodle administrators that one of the crucial points is to start with the end in mind. Choices should be made for instructional reasons.
We had a nice mix of questions. We were able to cover a great mix of site administrator questions and teacher settings to improve the usability of Moodle. Indeed, it was terrific to get positive feedback at the end of the presentation.
“If I get nothing else out of this conference, I’m happy”
This was my favorite quote from one of our attendees. This quote came from one of the teachers in our session. We had plenty of other positive feedback. One of our attendees was extremely excited about changing the theme of her Moodle install. She immediately saw the benefits of switching to a two column theme.
I love being able to share some of the tips and tricks that we’ve learned to make Moodle more powerful for teachers and students. The chance to share, to hear from users on how students are learning, to improve the usability for students is powerful.
I’m part of a top twenty podcast (breaking news, I’m part of a top 5 podcast). You see, I co-host Middle School Matters with the fantastic Mr. Shawn McGirr. We’ve been hosting, producing, recording and posting the podcast since August of 2007. That’s seven and a half years of podcasting. We’ve posted over 300 shows. I’m proud of the work that we’ve done. The podcast has allowed me to meet people that I wouldn’t have met. I’ve learned from people that I never would’ve crossed paths with. I’ve had the opportunity to interview some really great people.
Truth be told, it takes a little bit of magic to actually be a top 5 podcast. First of all, you have to be just a little bit creative with your search. If you just search for podcasts, you won’t find our special show. But, if you look at the Education category, well…. OK. Just looking at the Education category won’t quite do it either. But, if you look at the Educational Technology section, there we are, currently number five on the “What’s Hot” scroll bar. If you check out the K-12 category, we are in the top 20. If you do just a bit more magic, say, look for the top podcast that is hosted by two guys and appears in the Educational Technology and K-12 categories, then we have the top podcast. But who is going to think about that?
The show is focused around middle level educational tools, strategies, resources and humor. Lots of humor. Mostly middle level humor. Many of the topics and resources are applicable to other grade levels, but Shawn and I both are middle level educators at heart. We record the show almost weekly (sometimes life happens). We love when we get feedback.
Completion tracking is a terrific feature in Moodle. This allows the teachers, and I would argue even more importantly, and the students to keep track of what they have accomplished (completed) and how much is left to go. Of course, since this is Moodle, the teacher has the option to control both of those settings. Sometimes it is important to just let students know what they’ve done. The course may be a work in progress and not have everything completely entered. In that case, the completion total would not be turned on.
There are actually two parts to completion tracking: Activity completion and Course completion.
Completion tracking works really well in conjunction with badges.
Activity completion is a great way to provide students with visual evidence that they have done something. Activity completion comes in two main flavors, students can mark something as complete, or students have to do something in order for the activity to be complete. What the students have to do varies by the type of activity. Generally, students have to view, submit or receive a grade for something to be automatically marked as complete.
This can be very powerful for students. It can help teach them responsibility and provide the with useful information.
The second portion, Course Completion, works in conjunction with Activity completion. (Though there are also other parameters that can be used). Completion tracking must first be enabled by the site administrator. Once the site administrator has flipped the switch to make it available, Course Completion tracking can be turned on in any course. Just visit the Course administration settings. (Click on “Edit settings” under Course Administration. You will see a section called (surprise) “Completion Tracking”. Set the “Enable completion tracking” to Yes.)
Once all the activities are set up, the teacher can select them as part of the Course completion requirements. Visit the Course Completion link under Course administration.
I also suggest that the teacher add the Course Completion Status block to the site. This gives the students a quick view of what they have completed.