Thursday, November 4, 2010

Web 2.0 how-to for educators book #moodle

Back in 2009 (wow, that seems like an eternity now that we're on the eve of 2011), Gwen Solomon was kind enough to ask me to write a section on Moodle for a book she was working on. The book is "Web 2.0: how-to for educators, an indispensable companion to Web 2.0: new tools, new schools." 

Today, I received my copy of the book with a nice letter notifying me my section had come out nice. I've included the excerpt I wrote below, which appears in Chapter 10 of the book, pages 202-205. You can read other excerpts online.

There were a lot of contributors that many in the edublogosphere will be familiar with, including:
Al Garcia on Audacity, Jon Orech on and GoogleReader/CustomRSS Feeds, Vicki Davis on, Steven Burt on Drupal, Steven W. Anderson on Evernote and, Lisa Parisi on GoogleEarth, Esther Eash and Pamela Livingston on GoogleForms, Elizabeth Helfant on Issuu, Jeff Utecht on, Samantha Morra on and, Kevin Jarrett on Skype, Mike Hasley on TodaysMeet, Bob Sprankle on, Christine Southard on Voki, Barbara Bray on Webspiration, Serge Danielson-Francois on WizIQ.

From the web site about the book:

Web 2.0, the second generation of the World Wide Web, allows us to connect, create, collaborate, and share information. When we bring Web 2.0 tools into the classroom, we transform learning. By applying these tools thoughtfully, we see a shift in student engagement, creativity, and higher order learning skills. In this companion book, the authors of the best-selling Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools introduce you to more Web 2.0 tools and expertly lead you through classroom and professional applications that help improve student and teacher learning.
Web 2.0 How-To for Educators explores the very best online collaborative tools available today (including blogs, wikis, and social networking) and Web 2.0 applications (Skype, Google Earth, Wordle, and more) that make a difference in education. Using a simple formula for each concept, the book describes what the tool is, when teachers should use it, why it is useful, who is using it, how you can use the tool, and where you can find additional resources. Practical examples from educators around the world offer an abundance of ideas, and the recommendations for further information and comprehensive lists of Web 2.0 tools and applications will be valuable resources as you integrate Web 2.0 technology in your classroom.

Here's my small contribution, which predated

WHAT is Moodle?  
Moodle is a course management system, providing you with the benefits of a web site but with many more built-in learning activities for your students. You can easily arrange instructional materials, activities within this online space, as well as facilitate discussions online. Moodle allows you to create an online learning center for you and your students to work in that is safe and allows you to extend learning beyond the classroom walls. For many, Moodle is one-stop shopping solution for blogs, wikis, podcasts, survey questionnaires that print incredible graphs, quizzes; take grades, and institute online forums with attachments.

WHY is Moodle a useful tool?
Moodle is invaluable for students because it provides them with a safe, virtual environment that enables to engage each other as they learn content. Teachers find it indispensable because it extend their classroom to an online virtual space. Moodle features a variety of learning activities, including discussion forums, a way to turn in assignments via the Internet, a built-in gradebook, a way to embed interactive activities like crossword puzzles and quizzes created by others.

Moodle is also customizable and educators around the world are adding new modules and themes, such as the ones listed below:

Share questionnaires with students, parents, and anyone that has Internet access
If you've ever wondered how to quickly conduct surveys, Moodle's questionnaire module enables you to quickly design a survey, share it with others, and then graphs the data for you with horizontal, multi-colored bar charts. What's more, if you want to download the data for further number crunching in Excel--which is great for students to work with--you and/or your students can save the raw data to open in popular spreadsheet programs.

Create Task-based Activities
Using Half Baked Software's Hot Potatoes tool (which is free and available for Windows and Macintosh), teachers can design multiple-choice quizzes, text-entry quizzes, jumbled-word exercises, crosswords, fill in the blank exercises, and matching exercises quickly and easily. These activities are automatically scored in Moodle--saving the teacher the effort--and grades put into the gradebook.

Podcasting with Moodle
Add a podcast module to Moodle to make it easy for students to record their audio via the Web and share that recording as a podcast via the Moodle. For example, in my school district, our Bilingual/ESL Department is using iPods to facilitate second language learning. Using iPods or MP3 players, content can be loaded on those video/audio media can be loaded on these portable media devices. However, with a little planning, you are not limited to just loading content from sources like United Streaming and other third party vendors. Students can create their own content using the Audio Recorder Module in Moodle (there are other modules, too) and those can be shared as part of the RSS feed that students subscribe to. In other words, digital video/audio can feature student-created content--such as reflections on the instructional content being shared with them--alongside the commercial content, such as that coming from United Streaming. Using the podcast module in Moodle, both students and teacher can post podcasts that can be subscribed to in iTunes or via RSS readers (e.g. GoogleReader).

WHEN and HOW do you use Moodle?
Below are some of the ways in which Moodle is being used in a large urban school district like mine:

Writing teachers often want to provide students with immediate feedback. However, using traditional notebooks can be a bit of a deterrent because teachers have trouble carrying them around or spending long hours at work. Using Moodle, students can submit their writing via the Assignment Module in Moodle. Then, the writing teachers are able to score the writing sample as well as provide feedback without printing out the writing. This makes providing feedback for many student writers much easier than before and without using precious resources such as paper and ink, which are limited in my district.

The most widespread use of Moodle in our District began with conducting literature circles online. When we think of literature circles, we think of kids sitting in a circle reading books and sharing their thoughts on it based on the role they are assigned. Discussing books helps children build connections, sets a purpose for reading beyond the intrinsic motivation we all prize, and motivates them. It also helps them, read, observe, question, discuss, answer questions, and write about what they are reading. It's a fantastic activity, rich with opportunities for reflective learning. Students can post online book talks to persuade other group membes to choose their book for literature circles, vote on book selections, and they use the Moodle discussion forums to discuss their book, upload images, etc. Several thousand students are involved in using online literature circles and it all is happening as a result of Moodle.

Finally, Moodle is catching on as a tool to facilitate online professional learning for district staff. Over 300 educators have participated in online professional learning that has been facilitated 100% online via Moodle. You can see examples of courses online at
HOW do you get started with Moodle?
To get started with Moodle, you can work with your school district or organization to setup a web server and install Apache, PHP, and MySQL on it. These tools create the environment that Moodle needs because it is part web page, part database. You can get everything to start with online at

WHERE can you find more information about Moodle?

For basic tips and tricks for Moodle, visit Moodle Habitudes. You will find a wealth of resources online at (although I now recommend

There are videos and ways to use Moodle in schools, as well as help on how to set it up online at and you can find a discussion of how to use Moodle in schools online at

Furthermore, join the live conversation available via Twitter using the #moodle hashtag (search on Moodle via to find what people are sharing about Moodle use.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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