Troy Patterson

Educator, Thinker, Consultant

Month: May 2016

Standards Based Update

Moodle 3.1 has added Competency frameworks to the mix. This fascinates me. Competency based is called Standards based education in the United States. The implementation in Moodle ties activities to specific standards. Interestingly, an activity can be set to multiple standards.

At this point, I have more questions than answers. But I am excited about the possibilities. I am currently playing around with the Competencies, and do have a few answers.

  • Competencies need to be site wide.
  • A site can have multiple competencies.
  • Competencies can be assigned to students manually be a teacher.
  • Competencies can be set so that a student has to “pass” multiple instances before being assigned as “competent”

There is also the new option to create a Learning plan based upon competencies. I haven’t had a chance to look at these yet, but the concept is assigning students a variety of competencies to master.

There is lots to like about this so far. It does look as though it will add a few steps to the process. However, there is no shortcut to monitoring these standards for students. Teachers have to identify an activity and associate it that activity to standard. The devil is in the details. Will the process in Moodle be easy enough for teachers to actually use? Will the benefits outweigh the additional work?

The jury for me is still out. However, I’m optimistic after my first bit of exploration. The real question will be in whether or not teachers will use the capability. An additional challenge will be in associating that information into our Student Information System. If we can do that, teachers will be very interested.

Our next steps will include taking the standards that we have in our district and formatting those to import into Moodle. There is a plugin to import standards from the RDF – Achievement Standards. These include the Common Core Standards as well as the standards for the State of Michigan.

Shiny New or Doing the Work

Should educators check out the latest and shiniest of web sites? Or should they do the hard work of developing skills?

I work with a lot of teachers. Recently, I had the opportunity to work with new teachers and their mentors. When I work with teachers, I try to do a ton of listening. It is in listening that I usually really find out where the individual is on their journey. By far, most of them are doing really excellent work.

I noticed something recently. It’s nothing new really. But it stuck out. I had several teachers tell about multiple web sites that “you’ve just got to check out”. I knew most of them. But, I ask them a couple of questions:

  1. Why do you like this site?
  2. What do students do with it?
  3. How does this fit into the curriculum?
  4. What are the potential problems with the site?
  5. Do we have something that does that already?

I usually get pretty similar answers. Teachers tend to like a site because it is “easy to use” and attractive. Those are two good and important features in educational tools. However, the rest frequently falls down. All too often, teachers don’t consider all the options. There are many teachers who are leaders on the Internet listing the “10 Portfolio Tools for students” and the such. The thing is, you don’t need ten, you need one that works.

I’m not blaming teachers in the classroom. It is human nature to want the fun, new thing. There are lots of competing interests trying really hard to capture the attention of teachers. However, it’s really not in the best interest of education and students that we constantly change what we are doing just to change what we are doing.

So here’s my call to spend some time and do some work. It may not be quite as much fun as constantly checking out new tools, but it will lead to better implementation and thus, better student learning. Free up yourself to really pick a few tools and focus on them. Learn how to really, truly use them effectively.

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