Friday, 30 September 2011

Moodle Cloze Questions

I was presented with an opportunity today to interest some members of staff in using quizzes in Moodle. I seiezed it and deduced that a Cloze quiz would be perfect for their needs.

As is the way, Cloze quizzes are the ones I'd never really tried before, so the last hour has been spent developing the quiz behind closed doors. I am now absolutely confident in creating short answer cloze questions, even if nothing else.

The quiz will be demonstrated to staff and (I hope) immediately made available to students as a basic study activity.This is a momentous occasion as it is the first time I've pushed quizzes, and I'm worried it may be too soon. However, it fit the situation so perfectly, if I hadn't raised it I'm sure it would have come back to haunt me.

The full guide to Cloze questions is provided by the lovely people supporting Moodle but for my own use and future reference: a Cloze quiz allows you to write a portion of text which students must complete with correct words, either by selecting from a drop down menu or radio buttons, filling out short answers, or giving a numerical value.

Write the whole sentence in the Question text and identify the words/ numbers that students must fill out.

{1:SHORTANSWER:=Answer} <- Where the curly brackets deliminate the coding, the initial number is the grade for that question and :IDENT: describes the answer type (SHORTANSWER, SHORTANSWER_C, NUMERICAL, MULTICHOICE, MULTICHOICE_V, MULTICHOICE_H). Additionally = points to the corrrect answer and ~ would indicate alternatives.

That's as far as I've used it, but I will record the further adventures of Moodle development as we go.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

An early lunch

Today I had a moodle training session. I had one last night as well, but it was supposed to last one hour and it was between 4 and 5, so by the time everyone had logged on I was feeling distinctly rushed. The outcome was positive, but I didn't feel that I'd taken the time I would have liked to.

This morning, I had a full two hours booked out, and I went through the same points I always do. I like spontaneity, so I tend to mix things up a little and make each session that little more interesting for me. It means I am always open to ditching what I had planned and respond exactly to what the learners want to do.

I've found it also means that every time I come to a training session I am as enthusiastic as I was at the first and that, more than anything else I've found, is what people respond to. Not a superior kind of enthusiasm, or a tech geek kind of enthusiasm, but what I personally think of as "puppy syndrome". I'm talking and happy about everything and I feel at the beginning that people are willing to humour me. But I can almost feel that moment when it turns from "She's asking me to do this" to "Wow, I just did this!" or "Actually, that's pretty good. It would be better if I could do *this* though."

And the best thing is, I can see the difference it makes. I can see courses being built and people trying new things. I'm really looking forward to the summer holiday and the start of next year when we have the basics in place and we start really building on it.

I'm dreaming big this time.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Time to blink

In the last two weeks I have taken up driving lessons and finishing off some CPD has taken up the remainder of my spare time. My work life has been frantic: for the first time ever I'm obliged to colour code my calendar to enable me to keep on top of whether I've got training, meetings or research to do. These are my excuses for missing a week of blogging.

Since I'm here, I'd like to let you know what I've been up to and how my new role is developing. My job requires me to do a few things:
  1. To know about and keep staff abreast of all the eLearning resources at the college
  2. Train staff in said resources
  3. Support staff in using said resources
  4. Provide advice and guidance to staff who have a vague idea of what they want to do but no idea how to go about it
  5. Research additional tools etc that we may adopt in future.
I have to confess that my favourite aspect is Number 4, even though it's not at all frequently used right now. Training and supporting is really rewarding and the research is interesting. The admin is just admin (I quite like it, because I like things being tidy, but it doesn't thrill me) but the real challenge is the advice and guidance and thinking (as the management team would have it) "Outside the box".

I've been doing a lot of training recently: Moodle, SMARTBoards and bits and pieces including Box of Broadcasts and that's going to take up more of my time very shortly as I recently discovered a whole 2/3rds of the college have been holding back and giving me time to find my feet before descending on me. I've also started promoting the sporcle site as a good resource for quizzes and activities.

So far I've mostly been engaging with the people who are really excited about using a wider range of tools in their teaching and a few who are so scared of the idea that they wanted to get in some training early on. Either way - these are the people who have sought me out. What happens next is that I need to start hunting down people who are avoiding me.

I have noticed - and others have too - that the different departments that don't share students don't really communicate regularly on a professional basis. It's a very friendly college, so there is a lot of socialising, but I'm building a network throughout the college to promote inter-departmental communication. Ultimately, I intend to start a regular TeachMeet here, but keep that under your hat ;)

Monday, 5 September 2011

And we're off!

Last Thursday and Friday were the staff inset days at which I announced my presence and kick started the Moodle introduction.

I made a real effort during my presentation to NOT focus on the VLE - it's important that staff know that a VLE is not the only means of using technology to enhance learning. So I gave a brief introduction to myself and our resources, giving examples on use of non-VLE tools.

This morning I crawled into college (Monday morning, without the aid of caffeine, yay!) and have spent the whole day since chasing around after various questions and enquiries. It's the first day of inductions so there is a very excited buzz around the place, and we're seeing students again in their natural habitat. It's quite lovely after the rather dreary summer.

In addition I've stepped in on the perfect year as I have recently discovered that the BTECs have altered in some way which means staff were already aware they'd have to spend time this year developing materials. The idea of developing them in Moodle came along almost as an afterthought to some of them.

I do feel the need ot record the pleasure I'm experiencing in all this chaos - a few years ago I swore I'd never do tech support again and of course a large part of my role now is tech support! However, it's enjoyable and people are interested in the information I give them, rather than being negative about every little thing.

I am feeling very lucky to be working amongst such positive people who are all as willing to learn as they are to teach.