A blend of Moodle and Web 2.0 technologies

Learning is complex

Learning is a complex process, and to manage this complexity we’ve invented systems such as classrooms, timetables, rules, and detention. Even in online learning environments, Learning Management Systems (LMS) are put in place to ensure that learning is happening according to plan. Moodle is one LMS that many educational institutions have adopted.

From Moodle to Networks

In the past 2 -3 months, besides using our course Moodle page, my students and I also experimented with a diversity of Web 2.0 tools. Many of us signed up for an account in social network sites, and it didn’t take long for some of the students and I to meet in Facebook and in Twitter. Immediately friend requests were sent and we were following each other.

Within weeks, what started 3 months earlier as a formal class discussion forum within the closed environment of Moodle has now evolved into a complex network of enthusiastic and independent participants. We are now sharing not just Moodle forum posts but also blogposts in WordPress or Blogger, videos in YouTube and Vodpod, Tweets, Boxnet files, Flickr photos and videos, shortened URLS, and bookmarks in Diigo libraries.

Breaking the formality

The formality that we are familiar with in Moodle has become less stringent. Frequent sharing of jokes and the use of acronymns such as LOL, OMG, and LMHO has enlivened up the faceless nature of the dialogues in Facebook and Twitter.

The increase in the number of web-based tools that students are using is also accompanied by a significant improvement in the way they search for, present and organize information online. In their own initiative, some of the students are sharing their experiences with Tweet deck, HootSuite, and Symbaloo. This shows that their experiences with the internet has made them aware of the real need to learn how to manage the deluge of web information.

From novice to experts

This blend of Moodle and Web 2.0 tools is enabling students to take charge of their learning. Students display an increased sense of responsibility. For example, they put up their own Facebook “Teacher-student-mentor” page into which they meet and discuss issues related to their school work and their profession (teaching).

With the absence of the teacher’s control, the students are now seeing the need for them to assume the roles of experts, to offer advice and to lead discussions.  And they are further encouraged to improve this independence and leadership by the fact that their efforts are being acknowledged and appreciated by the members of the network. This approach is taking learning using Moodle to a new level.

Tech savvy… still need guidance!

Though young people of today are naturally tech savvy, they still need adult guidance. The teacher’s online presence makes a lot of difference to the learning environment, from the type of photos which are shared and the issues which are discussed to the number of students who actauuly participate in the discussion. It’s utterly irresponsible, especially in online learning environments, to assume that students will learn quality content and skills entirely on their own.