It’s time to start teaching online. The universities have been using online learning tools for quite a while now. Community schools are using online tools to provide an alternative to public education. Students are using online communication tools to keep in touch with their friends. The time has come to take advantage of these tools.
Moodle is an open source course management system for online learning. It’s very similar to programs like WebCT and Blackboard, except it’s free. It provides the ability to set up online classes, create assignments, facilitate online discussions, and even do online assessments. In our district, we have it installed and configured (at www.bbhcsd.org/moodle) so students and teachers can use their existing network accounts to get in. Once in, they can get select their courses and participate online from any Internet-connected computer.
English teachers Mark Fields and Ben Lesh have been using this with their American Literature classes. Using the discussions, they can have an ongoing topic each week that all of the students can weigh in on. They even combined their classes for one unit, so both groups could work together. Mark and Ben will be presenting a session on their experience with Moodle at the March 24 inservice.
Another teacher, Dianne Kruszynski, started an online discussion between her students and a group of students in England. The two groups were able to post messages online, and discuss the books they’re reading.
Other teachers are experimenting with the various tools. One is planning to use it to allow students to take tests online. Another is trying it out with middle school students.
If you’d like to play with Moodle, too, let me know and I’ll get you started.