The learning experiences in EDTECH 522 have all been valuable. But these experiences culminated in the creation of an online lesson in Moodle at the end of the semester. Creating the online module was, in itself, a challenge. Using Moodle from the perspective of the instructor, however, was a powerful learning experience.
One of the challenges I faced was creating a consistent design in the course management system. While learning to use Moodle as an instructor wasn’t difficult–with the exception of the gradebook, which I found to be not at all intuitive or user-friendly–being consistent in how I created each module of the course was more challenging than I expected. I found myself spending a great deal of time moving back and forth from module to module and in and out of edit mode. Going forward, I will employ the use of a storyboard to design the class, working outside the course management system to create the design template, and then plugging in all of the content and activities in the storyboard before moving everything into Moodle (or any other CMS).
In the process of reviewing classmates’ lessons, I picked up a few ideas that I may incorporate going forward, as well. I really don’t like being on camera (so the Rich Media Tutorial in Module 4 took me well outside my comfort zone), but having a short video segment to introduce each module really does add a personal and human touch to online learning. I may instead simply add an audio component to the beginning of my lessons, which should still make them more personal and may appeal to learners who feel overwhelmed when faced with a large amount of text at the beginning of a lesson.
What I enjoyed most about creating the Moodle lesson was thinking about ways to incorporate adult learning principles into the course. Since my course focuses on developing research skills in adult learners who are returning to higher education as graduate students, I thought incorporating a discussion at the beginning of the lesson that allowed learners to share their existing knowledge about resources that they’ve found helpful would work at a variety of levels. First, it considers adult learners’ desire to share their experience and knowledge; if these learners have been out in the work world, they may have a wide range of resources they’ve come to rely on. If those resources are reliable for their professional work, they may be just as reliable for academic work. In addition, this approach addresses Gagne’s third event of instruction, allowing students to build upon what they already know. Finally, this approach may help adult learners overcome any concerns they might have about being restricted to only using “library resources” that may not have relevance to their professional lives; this may ultimately allow them to overcome any obstacles in their orientation or motivation to learn.
I tried to acknowledge adult learners’ need for flexibility in preparing the modules for the course in advance and having them all open and ready for learners to work ahead. Until recently, most of my courses in the Ed Tech program have not allowed for working ahead. While I am a procrastinator who tends to work on projects during the week they’re due rather than working ahead, there have been times when I’ve known I would be at a conference or that I would otherwise have an exceptionally busy schedule, and I have most definitely appreciated Dr. Hall and other professors who have opened all of the course modules at the beginning of class to accommodate learners’ need to work ahead.
I hope to use the course I built in Moodle as the basis for a research skills course for my own library. There will be some differences; my students are typically between the ages of 18 and 22, and unless I can convince faculty members to make my lessons mandatory, the only incentive for students to complete the lessons will be their own intrinsic motivation. Including discussions may not be relevant in this case, and asking students to talk about professional resources they have used wouldn’t fit. However, the concepts will remain mostly the same.
Visit my Moodle course, Research Skills for Graduate Students.