This post is written by my husband, Joshua Coleman, who is a 7-12 science teacher at a charter school in the suburbs of Minneapolis.
I have been teaching secondary science in a traditional setting since I was licensed in 2007. Three years ago I was exposed to Moodle for the first time, but used it minimally as I wasn’t really trained in it’s use. I would basically post a brief outline of my daily lesson plan, post the learning objectives, and describe the assignments with due dates. As Hanna was teaching in an online setting, I was able to see her more extensive use of Moodle for coursework and assignments and was intrigued. This summer, I have undertaken the task of transitioning much of my physics course onto Moodle, and more robustly use its additional features to better meet the needs of my students. The following will briefly describe the processes I have used and learned along the way
Previously, all of my courses were outlined by our technology staff, and we were required to input the information. They chose to use the calendar mode and lessons were put on for each day of the week. The frustration with this format was each year then required the movement of content to match up with the correct days of the week. It was for this reason I chose to use topic mode rather than calendar mode. I add the assignments that will be completed during each week, but not the days in which they will be completed. Hypothetically, this will prevent me from having to move too much content from year to year, and thus prevent a lot of extra work.
One tool I have found very useful is the combination of Google Drive and Moodle. I have been typing out daily assignments in Google Drive and embedding them into Moodle assignments. The beauty of it is as I update the Drive assignment it will automatically update the Moodle assignment. I have also linked Google Drive folders at the end of each week for “resources.” In these folders I put lecture notes, worksheets, lab assignments, and videos used in class. This is very useful, because if I find a new worksheet I can easily add it to the Drive folder and it is automatically added to the Moodle page as well.
The final tool that I have used extensively is the HotPotatoes program. This program allows me to easily create different types of quizzes and drop them into Moodle. In the past I have used the Moodle quiz maker and have been extremely frustrated. It is time consuming to use and not very intuitive. The HotPotatoes program creates quizzes quickly and in a format that works very well with Moodle. When adding a resource to your Moodle page it comes up as one of the options, and allows you to choose how you want it graded. The students can quickly and easily take the quiz, and it is automatically graded. This will be a huge time saver, and also allow me to do more short quizzes to quickly check the understanding of my students.
I am sure as I work more and more with Moodle there will be many tricks that will be helpful, but as of right now these have been the most helpful. It is exciting to learn new ways of using technology to more efficiently and effectively do my job of educating students.