Many of my clients are new to eLearning. Some have 200 page books (all text) while others have material that is mostly video or slides. Hardly anyone starts out with a blended learning syllabus that perfectly balances individual learning with group activities. The hardest thing to do when converting these materials to eLearning is to keep the students involved and interested.
Here are some ideas of how you can use Moodle collaborative activities to engage your students and provide opportunity for interaction with other students, without costing you a dime or adding more items to your to-do list:
- Instead of creating a glossary of terms for your students, assign them the task! Give them a list of terms to define; let them choose a few or require them to define every term. Allow duplicates and allow ratings.
- Do the same thing with the Moodle wiki. Assign students a list of topics – tell them to come up with their own – relevant to the course subject matter. Grade them based on their writing skills, the quality and number of citations, or anything else you think is an important measure.
- One of the best ways to learn a topic is to explain it to someone else. Instead of answering questions posed in forum posts right away, wait some predetermined time (48 hours?) until students have had a chance to help their classmates. Or, assign a team of students to respond to forum posts for one week. (You can always jump in and set the ship right if they get off track).
- Even better, ask students to start discussions. Have them monitor the replies and respond to questions. Suggest that they “ask questions” that will bring out the most common misunderstandings of the topic so that the discussions will further reinforce the right interpretations. I did this when I wrote my first Moodle courses in statistical analysis.
- Hold a panel discussion each week (or month) using the Moodle chat. Set a time and choose a general topic. Have some things to say to get the ball rolling before anyone asks a question. Don’t make the mistake of going in unprepared. This chat should have a purpose, which generically, is to further facilitate learning.
- Even better, ask students to be responsible for these panel discussions. Let them choose their own topics or assign them. Either way, explaining something is a great way to learn it.
- You can do the same thing with web meetings within Moodle. There are several options that are free to use. The advantage a web meeting has over a chat is that you can display anything from a histogram to a Rembrandt; from a map to a color wheel. If a visual is important to your discussion, this would be better than a chat.
In case you’re new to all of these, some quick descriptions of Moodle activities:
- Glossary: Dictionary of terms, with definitions. Can included pictures, audio, etc., but typically the definitions are relatively short. This is an asynchronous activity.
- Forum: Threaded discussions that allow replies and ratings. This is an asynchronous activity.
- Wiki: More like an encyclopedia than a dictionary. Wikipedia is the granddaddy of all wikis. This is an asynchronous activity.
- Chat: Online typing of questions, answers, and ideas. Users are identified on the screen and what they type appears much like a movie script.
- Penny: I said this.
- Pitcher73: I agree
- Scarymary: I think it’s all very cool
In Moodle, if at least two people “chat”, a transcript is saved. This is a synchronous activity.
- Web Meeting: More than a chat because there is typically audio as well, plus a virtual whiteboard (some or all of the participants can “write” on it and it is displayed on everyone’s monitor), a screen presentation, or video. This is a synchronous activity. The free versions don’t always offer a recorded transcript, but this isn’t always necessary. (Confesssion: I never listen to or watch recorded transcripts of meetings, especially if I wasn’t there to start with.)
For more on web meetings and other collaborative features, check out my previous post.
Let me know if you have any other ideas to get people involved, interested, and talking!
Tags: collaborative activities, eLearning for Business, Moodle, moodle chat, moodle elearning, moodle for business, moodle forum, moodle glossary, moodle web meeting, moodle wiki, online collaboration