Monday, October 5, 2009

Moodle IS boring!

Recently, Sarah Horrigan, a British educator had an interesting post, brought to my attention by colleague Claude Sigmund. Horrigan was talking about how her colleagues were complaining about the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) their institution was using. It got me to thinking about pushback I've heard in our district regarding our VLE "du jour", Moodle. Staff using it for professional development complain that it's "clunky" or "too hard" or "boring." As Horrigan correctly points out however,

I then got them to imagine a really great learning experience that they'd
had while they were at school or university and what made it great. I then asked
the group 'did anyone's great experience involve a great teacher?' Hands. 'A
really great subject area?' A few more. 'A really great activity or
experience?'. Lots of hands and nodding. 'Did anyone's great experience involve
how brilliant the room was where the learning happened? How great the chair was they were sitting on? How great the desk was they were using? The pen? Anyone particularly excited by the pen they were using?'. No-one.

Y'know. I think I actually heard the penny drop as they realised that it's what you do with something that makes it good and not the places or tools which make it extra special. It's funny how quick we are to blame an environment and forget that inspiring teaching and learning is about the people and the players. As adults
we look at an empty cardboard box and see it as a storage device. Somewhere to
put 'stuff'. As children we looked at that same cardboard box and saw a plane. A
car. A train. An adventure waiting to happen. What happened to our own
creativity? It seems like we get confronted by a 'virtual learning environment'
and think that's enough. The learning will happen regardless of the effort we
put into it. Wrong! So, so wrong! When eLearning works, it's an amazing,
interesting, vibrant, evolving, engaging, rich space. When it's just a shell. A
place to download PowerPoints... boy oh boy is it a sad bag

An empty classroom is not a great learning space. It requires an engaging educator and engaging subject matter to make it interesting. So too with Virtual Learning spaces such as Moodle.
So now I'm off on a quest, to find engaging activities for staff using Moodle to extend student learning beyond the walls of their classroom.
Here's what I've found so far:
Hopefully these resources will assist in giving educators ideas on how they can turn their digital learning space from boring to engaging, just like when they meet students face to face in their classroom!

Michelle Martin at the Bamboo Project Blog adds her two cents as well.

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