Big Ideas, Big Problems

Back in September, the school found out there was some funding available via an organisation called LSIS for a project to raise achievement at KS5. One of my English colleagues approached me and proposed a more engaging VLE-type experience as his students sometimes find Moodle a little dry and institutional.

We’ve now got the go ahead, and some funding, to implement something. Having had a sit down with my visionary colleague, he’d like the students to see a classroom with, say, a bookshelf where all of the books link to resources and the posters link to activities, etc.

Options? I could create a simple HTML or Flash front-end that would point to Moodle activities or resources. This would be pretty obvious and I think the students would see through it fairly quickly.

At the other end, I could code my own CMS from scratch. By mid-January. In my spare time *fnarr*.

Somewhere in the middle I could choose a simple CMS and skin it to hell, or maybe even try with Moodle. Necessary features would be:

  • Login (for tracking use)
  • Resource hosting (textual & multimedia)
  • Student communication (either a forum, IMs or both)
  • Web conferencing capabilities (almost certainly linked to a 3rd party, maybe DimDim)
  • Setting and Uploading work, ideally with the capability to provide feedback

I also considered Edmodo, which would meet some or all of the criteria above – but isn’t customisable in terms of appearance and therefore doesn’t provide the GUI that is required.

Thoughts? Ideas? Opinions?

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3 thoughts on “Big Ideas, Big Problems

  1. I would definitely try to do this with moodle. Moodle acts like glue in a lot of ways. It allows you to stick together anything that you want. You want web conferencing, there is a free DimDim plugin that allows full integration within a course for up to 20 participants (including recording and everything). You want single-sign-on to wordpress or Google Apps… there are pre-built plugins to do both. You want to tie it to your active directory login system that you may already be using with kids… that is pretty easy too right out of the box.

    I believe that many other LMS/CMS products are quite good, but the only one that I have really found to have the community to sustain all of the things I want to do is Moodle.

    I have seen some pretty sweet hacks of the moodle theme as well, but I think that you would be adding a lot if you were able to put flash and a few other things in and then share out the ideas on how you did it. Talk to you soon.

  2. If you’re going ‘really big’ then maybe it’s an opportunity to start to think of it the other way round?
    break down the problem first then try to design a solution to fit. What are the teaching … or more importantly .. learning objectives you want. How will you know when you’ve achieved this, can you measure this ‘improvement’ – if so should you measure where you are at the moment to form the baseline.

    Just being ‘devils advocate’ here but … do you need to decide what ‘good’ is before you start – this should really be based on learning outcomes than on the technology. If some technological aspect isn’t great then this can be developped net time if the learning outcomes are worthwhile.

    Is the quesion one about empowering more engagement and providing support? Often the ‘structured’ nature of linear online courses are counter productive. I suspect that there is a bigger debate under this.

    I’m not sure if this is your intention – maybe it’s an opportunity to try some stuff out and see what happens – that’s good too.

  3. Just found this blog that prvides some really interesting ‘English’ ideas that seem quite open ended and engaging:
    http://www.sccenglish.ie/

    For example – how would you take Shakespear and present it as a news bulletin. The question then arises how can you use an online system to track, stimulate and encourage that. Clearly this isn’t a linear ‘lesson’ delivery. Would Shakespear have a ‘facebook’ equivalent – should the class be characters?

    I’m rambling again … sorry …

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