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Lisa H: A first meeting with Moodle
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8 April 2013
I work on a pre-sessional English language and study skills programme at a university.
New students arrive in week 0 (one week before semester starts) and they are given various induction sessions by different members of the programme and University support teams. For this introduction to Moodle session, we use a computer room with enough terminals for one per student. However, I ask the students to sit at a terminal with another student so they can continue to build relationships with the other students. We promote is as a key session, so it is usually well-attended. The session takes place towards the end of the induction week; therefore, many of the students know each other a little. It was a one-hour session. There were 18 students at this particular session.
This is a general introduction session to the VLE platform (through discussion work and a quiz). It can be very confusing and, although the tutors will refer to it in every lesson, it gives the students who attend the session a bit of a head start for week 1 so they will not be too overwhelmed by lots of new information and be able to concentrate on the content of their course. I have a short evaluation activity at the end of the session which gives me immediate feedback on the session, and, as I am a tutor on the course myself, I can see who is using it by/in week 1 and who needs further support.
- Pairwork: Discussion – what a virtual learning environment is and exchange experiences of. If no experience, what they imagine it is.
- Whole class: Feedback from pairwork to whiteboard.
- Whole class: Concept checking of virtual learning environment.
- Pairwork: Discussion - advantages and expectations of VLE.
- Whole class: Feedback from pairwork to whiteboard. (Up to this stage: about 20 -30 minutes). This part of the session went well and I think this was because the students knew each other a little better than many students in week 0 and they were happy to discuss together. However, it was clear that one or two students were still a little unsure of what a VLE was, but this may have been due to their low language level. I noted their names to mention to their tutors and academic advisers so that they could monitor and follow up, if necessary.
- Pairwork: Students log on to Moodle (this took quite a while as it was also the first time they had used their student numbers and passwords to log on to the system). One problem was that a few students had forgotten their details or hadn’t been given any. This meant a bit of juggling of students.
- Pairwork: Moodle quiz – students work through a quiz of 10 items (the quiz is on the homepage of the course site) which introduces them to some of the key functions and shows them the tools that they will probably use more frequently.
- Whole class: Feedback – answers (shown via accessing the answers on the VLE displayed on a projector – this was to consolidate the process to the students and to show them any shortcuts). There was also an opportunity to ask questions at this stage, which is why I prefer to go through the answers with them rather than let them check individually. (Stages 6-8: about 30 minutes.)
- Evaluation activity – Students asked to complete an anonymous evaluation form (smiley faces – what did you like/not like about the session). The feedback from the session was mostly positive. One student commented that they didn’t like working in pairs, another student was unhappy as they were unable to log on, and another student said that they wanted the session to be longer.
The students now had a better understanding of a VLE and some experience of using it. They had experience of working in pairs, discussion work, whole class feedback and asking questions. They had formed closer bonds with their potential classmates. I hadn’t seen it as an opportunity for cross-cultural work, but during the group feedback stage at the end of their discussion, the students were saying: my partner from xxxxx says that at universities in his country, students don’t use computers and technology. For myself, as one of their tutors, I have the opportunity to learn about my students, especially their learning backgrounds and digital skills.
I was happy with the session. I will look at the quiz before next time and change a few questions (I always do this to keep it up-to-date). I will also make sure that the students are reminded – at an earlier session – to bring their log in details.