Embracing THEIR Version of Online Courses (Get #Free #Moodle Courses)

Want quick download links to free Moodle courses? Get them here!  I love looking at how other educators design their courses. Of course, online learning as we know it may be falling out of vogue...
“A…major illusion on which the school system rests is that most learning is the result of teaching. Teaching, it is true, may contribute to certain kinds of learning under certain circumstances. But most people acquire most of their knowledge outside school, and in school only insofar as school, in a few rich countries, has become their place of confinement during an increasing part of their lives". Source: Ivan Illich, Deschooling as cited by Steve Wheeler's Learning with 'e's: Lunatic Fringe?
Will Richardson (Weblogg-ed) had a great piece last week about online learning...what jumped out at me included the following:
Learning online is not about finishing the course requirements a few days early or answering the questions that the text or the teacher dictate. It’s about finding our own path through the material…there is another way to learn online aside from digitizing a curriculum. We have goals and outcomes for our participants, but we don’t say to them “here is the path, work ahead if you like, and your grades will be posted online.” We let them find their own way, supporting and prodding as needed, trying to keep them moving in the general direction of shift. With any luck, they experience the change in their own way, on their own terms.
More than just digitizing the curriculum...Amen! That said, many still acknowledge the need to provide a framework for learners, a maze of musings and learning that students can work against to find their own way. I'm not sure if the courses listed below offer such an opportunity for inquiry, but we can certainly gain insights into design of a course, can't we?

Accessing Utah's online courses can provide insights into what society, legislators and educators think of what school should be. While Will's points are on the mark, many of us still have to work within the framework mandated...play in someone else's sandbox. Digitizing curriculum with an awareness of what can be provides some room for innovation, and a way to tap into scarce tax dollars:
While high schools around the country are cutting expensive courses, students in Utah high schools this fall may have access to every AP course, any foreign language, and high level STEM courses rich with computer simulations. (Source: Tom Vander Ark, Huffington Post)
As Ric Murry points out in the comments at Will Richardson's blog, this is an economic issue...for example, in Texas, online learning is being considered as one possible approach. One large school district (no, not mine) pointed out that they want to offer ALL their professional development and a lot more K-12 student courses online, 40 students per teacher, as a way to cut costs. While such an approach must be carefully considered, it's not impossible to believe that folks will want to do this.

More than a million children are involved in online learning across the country. Online learning is definitely seen as a way to offer parents choice about where to educate their children...that is, if not in public schools, then at home via online providers approved by the State (Source: NewsOK.com).

And, in Texas, Governor Perry sees this as one of the only ways to achieve a $10K Bachelor's degree (as opposed to whatever you pay now for one):
College, except for the parties, needs to be less place-based," he said. Web-based instruction and other technology could drive the price down to $2,000 a year, he said. Perry wrote to university regents last week , urging them to develop $10,000 degree programs and to scale up those programs so at least 10 percent of the sheepskins awarded by their schools are based on this approach. He said programs could include online classes, classes at no-frills campuses, credit for prior learning, credit for Advanced Placement classes in high school and other elements.
So, it should come as no surprise that online learning opportunities will start popping up. While I don't think "do it yourself" a la Moodle is the way state legislators imagine, you can sense people moving in that direction, no? At least, until the online course providers get brought into the picture (e.g. K12.com is one such venture being advocated for in Texas).

Bleak budgets coupled with looming teacher shortages amidst an increasing demand for results are accelerating the growth of online learning into blended environments. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently described a “new normal,” where schools would have to do more with less. Blended learning is playing a vital role, as school operators begin to rethink the structure and delivery of education with the new realities of public funding.
The growth of online learning in brick-and-mortar schools carries with it a bigger opportunity that has not existed in the past with education technology, which has been treated as an add-on to the current education system and conventional classroom structure. Online learning has the potential to be a disruptive force that will transform the factory-like, monolithic structure that has dominated America’s schools into a new model that is student-centric, highly personalized for each learner, and more productive, as it delivers dramatically better results at the same or lower cost.
Policymakers and education leaders must adopt the right policies for this to happen.
Source: The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning by Michael Horn and Heather Staker 

The Open High School of Utah is sharing their Moodle courses and sharing THEIR vision of what online learning can be:

The Open High School of Utah is putting the focus where it should be – on the student. Our mission is to facilitate lifelong success by meeting the needs of the 21st century learner through individualized, student-centered instruction, innovative technology, service learning, and personal responsibility.
The courses are licensed as follows:
Courses and course materials produced by the Open High School of Utah are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Open High School of Utah courses contain many open educational resources produced by other organizations which may use a different open license. Please confirm the license status of these third-party resources before reusing them.  See OpenCourseWare for additional information.
Here are the direct download links for each of the courses--which will initiate a download a backed up Moodle course in zip format and might save you some time:
  1. English Composition - This one semester course, completed in conjunction with the core Language Arts course, focuses on fundamental, cross-curricular writing and English grammar and usage. Students will work through all steps of the writing process to create effective paragraphs and essays—skills that will apply in all disciplines throughout high school and beyond. Wikis and group work will allow students to share ideas and connect with other students, and interactive instruction and review will clarify grammar and usage rules to help our students avoid embarrassing mistakes that beset the English written word.
  2. English 9English 9 is the second semester of a year-long Language Arts course. In this course, we will study novels, plays, poetry, and articles as a means of improving critical thinking, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and written expression. Through written, audio, and video recordings, students share their reactions to the characters, themes, and issues of the works studied. Grammar, vocabulary, symbolism, plot points, and character development are among the language and literary techniques which students will study in this course. Throughout the course, students will make connections between the themes and characters of literature, and the events and interactions of their own lives.
  3. Algebra A (First Semester) - Algebra A and Algebra B make up a two-year Algebra program. The main goal of Algebra is to develop fluency in working with linear equations. This 2 year program gives students the opportunity to study, learn, and practice algebraic concepts at a pace that allows additional learning activities, projects, and discussions. In this course, students will work with tables, graphs, and equations and solve linear equations and inequalities and systems of linear equations and inequalities. Throughout the course, students will have opportunities to apply mathematical skills and make meaningful connections to life’s experiences.
  4. Algebra B (Second Semester) - same as Algebra A
  5. Algebra 1(A) - The main goal of Algebra is to develop fluency in working with linear equations. In this course, students will work with tables, graphs, and equations and solve linear equations and inequalities and systems of linear equations and inequalities. Students will learn how to simplify polynomials and begin to study quadratic relationships, along with analyzing mathematical situations verbally, numerically, graphically, and symbolically. Throughout the course, students will have opportunities to apply mathematical skills and make meaningful connections to life’s experiences.
  6. Algebra 1(B) - same as 1a
  7. Social Studies (Current Issues) - Current Issues is a one semester Social Studies elective that takes a close look at the media surrounding us. We analyze the unique place in history occupied by the United States that allowed media to develop and flourish. From there we investigate the origins of Newspaper, Television, Internet, and Advertising. After looking at the past history of various mediums of mass communication, students then take a look at current efforts and future endeavors of each communication tool. Finally students end the course in a disruptive innovation on the research paper–with collaborative research done in a Wiki Space. Students stay connected with current events as they are happening and learn perspective about the media that we interact with on a day to day basis.
  8. Geography - This course covers both physical and cultural geography. Students learn various methods for defining place on the Earth's surface. Student's also investigate types of ecosystems and biomes. Various methods of how the Earth can be changed and modified naturally are then discussed, with students learning about earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and erosion. Finally, economic systems are covered as well as political systems of government. The course emphasizes student application of core standards with information that is happening in real time.
  9. Computer Technology - The goal of this class is to familiarize students with basic computing principles and terminology. By engaging in real-world activities, students will become acquainted with modern technology and learn why it is important. When students understand how computers work, finding solutions to technological problems becomes a lot easier. We will be exploring topics such as computer hardware, software, document processing, and a variety of other useful applications.
  10. Earth Systems - In this course, we will explore the Earth and the solar system and learn about Earth’s landforms, rocks, atmosphere, and climate. We will understand how different processes reshape our planet and discover how and why the Earth has changed over time. We will see how science affects us everyday and how we, in turn, affect our planet.
Not sure how to restore a Moodle course? Watch this video (YouTube hosted):

The process is pretty easy...go to an existing Moodle course, click on RESTORE, then browse to your backup'd up course file in zip format on your computer, then upload it. After the upload is done, click on RESTORE and that's it!

Thanks to Eric Hileman for sharing this via the Oklahoma's Tech Directors' List.

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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


I think the core of your thoughts are absolutely right. One of the things that we need to do is provide pupils with online tools that allow them to take some ownership of the learning process and to work in an environment that supports such a model. Online learning tools also need to be easy to use as well as allowing both pupil and teacher the opportunity to build their own, personalised toolset supporting their own needs and aspirations. Perhaps this is where we are being let down at the moment?

We recently launched an online personal learning environment www.MOOPLE.net (My Open Online Personal Learning Environment) which is free to use, after an initial setup fee, and allows pupils and teachers to build their own learning environments with tools chosen by them. It uses single sign on to things such as Google Apps for Education, Live@Edu, MOODLE, Wordpress, etc. and is designed to be easy to use (it takes about 15 minutes to learn).

We think tools such as MOOPLE can help free both pupils and teachers to think differently about online learning and help develop some creative responses to the opportunities and challenges that online learning brings.

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