Building on an earlier post and a Moot workshop presentation by Melinda Kraft of Albion College, here are some ideas for using online applications to stay connected with your students and to encourage them to interact with each other. Make sure you check out the companion post to this one, More Ways to Make Your eLearning GREAT.
WidgetBox.com Add unlimited features to any Moodle course or Front Page– for learning, communicating, or just plain fun. Create an account, design your widget, using one of their many templates or your own, and copy the code into an HTML block in your Moodle course (or front page). Some ideas for using their templates to make your courses more engaging:
- An RSS feed from your blog (much nicer formatting than the standard Moodle RSS block), a YouTube widget, Twitter updates; you can see examples in the Pluto course at BeeLearn.com.
- Poll widget – use on the home page to gather demographics about your site visitors; within courses you can use this much like the Moodle Choice activity to gather instant feedback such as “Would you like to see more examples like this one?” or “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?”
- Form – use as a sign up form for an event, a newsletter, a free information product, a follow-up call for a quote, a free consultation…View an example in the Fort Swampy course at BeeLearn.com where the form is used to sign up for peer study groups.
- Countdown – are you holding a webinar or speaking at a conference? The Countdown widget lets you customize the event name, the countdown display, and a custom message once the event is over. You can put “Sorry, you missed it, but you can download the presentation here” and put a link. See an example in the Pluto course at BeeLearn.com.
Note that the WidgetBox.com Basic account is free, but has fewer design options than the fee-based Pro account.
Chat, VOIP, and Web meeting clients that add interactivity to any eLearning course:
- Meebo Put the Meebo Bar on your site to make it easy for both visitors and participants to share with others, connect with you, and even allow affiliate advertisements without negatively affecting the aesthetics or distracting learners.
- Trillian I am not an online chatter anymore. Twenty-five years ago I was enthralled with, so I avoid the temptation now. But if you are, Trillian is the IM client for you, aggregating all of your screen names in one place so you can keep up.
- For VOIP calls and web meetings, Skype remains a favorite. There was a Skype activity module (plugin) for Moodle; I’m not sure if it’s working for 2.x or not. Regardless of that, you can create a customized Skype button and place it in any HTML content area in Moodle.
Use these scheduling applications to connect with your students/clients for coaching sessions, consulting, speaking engagements. You’re not bogged down by multiple “are you available” emails; you don’t need a personal assistant to schedule for you. These can be linked or embedded in your Moodle course content and can sync with your Moodle calendar.
- Features of GREAT eLearning. My flagship post on how to make eLearning something people won’t call boring.
- A Few Words About Using Collaborative Activities to Jazz up Moodle Courses. Using built-in features to encourage collaboration and engagement.
- Game Building Applications for Business eLearning. Another dimension to GREAT eLearning.
- e-Learning Audio, Video, Flash, & Screencasts- What Tool Do You Need. This post covers applications such as Articulate Engage and Screenr.
- Web Accessibility and How It Will Affect eLearning. Whether it’s a widget or a video, use accessibility standards in your design.
- The companion post to this one, based on Melinda Kraft’s 2011 Moot Workshop, More Ways to Make Your eLearning GREAT.