Friday, February 4, 2011

Bye Bye Moodle


"Have you seen THE ANNEX@ New Canaan high School Library?
We’ve started posting what we normally post on the library Moodle to the open web.

We did it because by the time student logged on, navigated to the right quarter, then collapsed blocks, the located the right course block they often turned to us and said, “OK Now what?” And that’s when we said “Now you read and follow instructions.” Not a popular answer. So, we made it a) easier to access, b) added a podcasting tool to READ it to to you! I know right? Could make things any easier? Yes! We could! We could post a link to each lesson on our Twitter profile, our facebook page, and our calendar, which is posted on our website, and on THE ANNEX@.

Got questions? You can text them to the library at (616) 669 6670 (61 know mor 0). How cool is that?"

Goodbye Moodle. We loved you but it’s time to move on. 

Financial advisors will warn you not to fall in love with your house. It’s an investment, and you should divest and move on when the time is right. The same principle applies to educational software. It’s a tool for learning, and in order to sustain the learning momentum, it’s important to change the tool as needed.
Here is an example. A few years back, we started an online book discussion at New Canaan High School. We selected a list of books, posted dust jacket images, linked each one to its counterpart in our LibraryThing collection, blasted out an email about it and hoped for the best. It was great! We had over 200 posts the first year, but then year two… not so great. Why? The novelty wore off. Here is a link to the 2008-2009 VoiceThread. This year, we phased out VoiceThread, and started using our library management system, Destiny, instead. Here is a link to instructions on developing book trailers in the system.
In 2008, my colleague Christina Russo and I, in keeping with a district-wide initiative to Go Green, launched the New Canaan High School Library Moodle. Rather than lecturing and handing out hard-copy pages filled with screenshot research instructions, we posted all our instructions to what evolved into the online component of our blended instructional program. It was a huge success. Our Library Moodle met several 21st century instructional objectives:
·      Communication
·      Self-direction
·      Participatory learning
·      Collaboration
·      Assessment
This week, we launched its replacement: a basic blog. Not because it wasn’t getting the job done, but because it we weren’t using all its functionality and it didn’t offer some things we really wanted. Here are a few features we want our online program to offer:
1.     Transparency – why log in? If we need to protect specific information, we can put that in the cloud (Google Apps, in our case), protect it, and link to it. This way, students, teachers, parents, administrators, the community, its organizations, cyber colleagues, the whole world can see what we are up to. This is great for advocacy. Plus, students can access it readily, which they couldn’t/weren’t doing before.
2.     Synchronicity – we post news on Twitter, Facebook, Google calendar and our website, but we want synchronicity between all of these. With the blog, we won’t have to manually cross-post.
3.     We embedded a podcasting tool for students who don’t want to/can’t read all we include in posted lessons. This automatically converts text to speech, so we don’t have to record each lesson’s audio.
We work face-to-face (F2F) with classes when new units are launched, but with online instruction, we can focus on providing individual support to those who needed it rather than lecturing the entire group.
This week, we rolled it out with students and they are thrilled. Testimonials coming.

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