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Penny Mondani :: Moodle Maven


When I was five years old, I set up my first assembly line; I made mud pies in the garden shed.  My mother was pretty upset that I had used all of her pie “tins” but my father bought a pie anyway.  For currency, we used the aluminum punch outs – about the size of a US nickel – from the electric junction boxes used back then.  Nowadays, they’re made of plastic – much safer for all involved, but not nearly as cool for play money.  As a teenager, I spent most winter weekends planting seeds, and transplanting seedlings, for my parents’ farm and garden center business.  It was cold work (in a barely heated concrete building in Upstate NY) and I didn’t want to spend any more time at it than necessary.  But, I had to get it all done…once again, I used my assembly line skills, created a process, and got through it faster.  My father, like so many employers, didn’t seem to appreciate my ingenuity.  He measured me on how many hours I spent, not my overall productivity…too bad that’s such a common theme in business today.

OK, so back to me…I went to college to become an electrical engineer.  I don’t think I even knew what an electrical engineer does, but it sounded good.  Contrary to what everyone says, electricity does not behave just like water, and the “right hand rule” is not foolproof.  All these years later, I’m very glad that I went to the Montreal Forum to see Eric Clapton in concert instead of studying for that Physics II exam.  I would’ve failed it anyway.

My junior year, I found myself at a crossroad:  I was not going to be an electrical engineer.  I hate to give up on anything, and this was no exception.  But, the decision was being made for me, so I changed majors.  It’s funny how things work out because that first week of fall classes, I found myself in a statistics lecture.  While everyone else was dazed and confused, I found clarity in probabilities and variances!

I soon discovered that I had been an industrial engineer all my life, even though I had to wait a while to get a degree in it!  I can’t help myself when it comes to creating processes, analyzing risk (I’m great at thinking in advance what might go wrong), and just plain organizing every last detail.  I kept going to school, learning more and more about others who had come before me, and finally getting a job where I was able to do all my favorite things every day of the week!

Then, one day, my boss said “Penny, you’re going to have to teach this topic next month”.  I said “I can’t stand in front of a crowd.  It’s not in my job description and you can’t make me do it”.  When that very logical argument didn’t work, I begged (on my knees) and cried (profusely).  Nothing was going to change this bully’s mind!  The first 30 seconds in front of the room was awful…I heard “helicopter beaters” in my head.  I could barely speak.  Then, something came over me…the crowd was smiling!  They were laughing at my jokes (not at me).  They actually nodded their heads as if to say “I agree” or “I didn’t know that”!

For the next 20 years, I was lucky enough to work with some very fine people who knew everything there is to know about adult learning, training design, understanding training objectives, and measuring training effectiveness.  I hung out with them, asked them “why” and “how” about everything.  We had practice sessions (sometimes on video tape) where they gave pointers…and told me that I said “You know…” way too many times and put my hand on my chin like Jack Benny!  I now had another love:  teaching.  A fellow passenger on a USAir flight told me that I was didactic.  I said “thanks, I like to share what I know”!

In 2005 I searched for the entire year – wasting lots of time and oh, so much money – until I found Moodle.  I spent the next six months building courses from the materials I had delivered as a quality consultant.  When I began to get inquiries like “how did you do that in Moodle”, I added designing and creating instructional materials for others to my list of things I love to do.  To my delight, this seems to be of great value to people (like you, perhaps?); since  I love to teach and I love to share what I know, we’ll both come away happy!

So, welcome to my e-Learning blog, Penny For Your Thoughts!

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