Mar 11, 2017

Moodle: It's more than just a "cool" digital tool

Pupils nowadays live in a technology rich environment. Accordingly, teachers must provide interactive opportunities which motivate and allow pupils to focus on learning.  Using different “cool” digital tools when teaching English is one way for us, teachers of English as Foreign Language in Israel, to provide such opportunities.

However, while looking at apps and finding ways they can be used in the classroom is very good, it seems to me that it is better to use a Virtual Learning Environment such as Moodle, to mention the one I like best. This Learning Platform provides much more than opportunities for interaction using digital tools.
You may want to check this link to find out “Why you should use a Virtual Learning Environment”.  Allow me to quote “some reasons why:
•    Communication – opens up an infinite number of channels in the format of forums, discussion threads, polls, surveys – instant feedback either as a group or individually
•    Producing work – students do not physically have to find their teacher to hand in work due to secure virtual ‘hand-in’ folders that have time windows
•    Resource hub – teachers have infinite online storage space for ppts, docs, worksheets etc. that can either be secure or shared with students
•    Dynamic home pages – teachers have the opportunity to create an exciting virtual space to represent their room/subject
•    Links to outside sources – pathways to all other online learning spaces are linked via the VLE
•    Embedded content – YouTube, BBC, newspapers can all be embedded as the dynamic feed of the homepage
•    Podcasts & videos – both teacher- and student-produced podcasts and videos have a shared platform; again, either secure or shared”.

I have been using Moodle for a few years now. I have found that using Moodle to support my Face to face lessons in the Classroom helps me engage pupils. I believe I make my pupils study more, which is what I want, and no less important, be exposed to "more" English.

While there are  pupils who complain that they have to work harder because I have them use Moodle, there are those who say that they profit from the experience. You can't please them all.

The Ministry of Education is “going Moodle”, as this platform is used in each and every teacher professional development workshop. Most academic institutions in Israel use Moodle, too. Using Moodle, we can help pupils get used to the Learning Environment they will be using at College or University.

If your school works with Mashov, then Moodle is available right away. Jump at the chance and give it a try! You will not have to do any sort of "administrative work", as you get a space on the Platform for every course you teach. Moodle even keeps your courses from year to year, which means that you can re-use and update contents whenever you want.

If, however, your school does not work with Mashov, you will have to check whether you have access to a Moodle Platform through your school. I once heard that this can be done through the Ministry of Education, but I do not know if that is so. Check it.

There are free Moodle workshops available online, but I guess the best venue is to join a workshop that caters to your needs as a teacher of English in Israel. I hope to facilitate another one soon if I am given the chance.

If you access this link, you will be able to get a  glimpse of both how I have been using Moodle at Kugel High School, and how I have been helping fellow teachers of English learn to use Moodle with their pupils. Who knows? You might eventually want to become a Moodler yourself.


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