Back in 2005 I asked one of my computer programming students to investigate some tools we could use for the school intranet and could evaluated as part of my post-graduate action research. Sheung-Man came to class a couple of days later and declared: “I found this teacher tool that looks like it would be easy to use, it’s called Moodle“. This was the proverbial “a stone in the pond creates many ripples” for me and my learning journey with Moodle.
I refined my research topic to focus on “Mentoring as an effective strategy for implementing online learning with Moodle” and set to work identifying people in the school that would be willing to explore Moodle with me as their mentor. My first research volunteer was a very experienced, brilliant and eccentric Mathematics teacher. His problem was how to effectively prepare students over the summer break for the rigours of Advanced Placement Calculus. We worked together over the course of three months leading up to the summer exploring the use of the forum, journal and assignment activities to support his goals.
The outcome exceeded of our expectations, his students received the just-in-time feedback needed to start the new academic year with a head start (all from a small cafe in France!) and my research resulted in a systemic change in scheduling for several staff to work with me in support of blended learning with Moodle.
In 2006 I brought this experience with me over to the Canadian International School of Hong Kong (#CDNISHK) where I currently work. Beginning initially with my students in the Communications Technology course and then a pilot with our Science and Mathematics teachers. The timing couldn’t have been better as it was in parallel with the roll out of our MacBook 1-to-1 program. Results from the pilot were very positive and led to the formal use of Moodle as the learning platform for our Upper School. The teachers involved in the pilot are now mentors within their respective departments and more mentors have come forward in the last two years.
Community is Key
Looking back it’s been an amazing ride to this point in my personal journey. I was moved to write this post as #CDNISHK will be hosting the inaugural Hong Kong Moodle Moot 21-22 September 2012. The school has the facilities and resources to host this event, more importantly thou, it has vision for digital learning infusion in which blended learning with Moodle is central. CDNISHK will have no less than 9 presenters/workshop leaders at this event who are willingly sharing their stories. We will also have a team of students called the Digital Ambassadors keen to provide technical support and participate. We have been able to build capacity within our own community and are excited by the possibility of learning from with wider community at the moot.
One lesson that sticks with me is that by being open source software Moodle encourages community on many levels. Decentralizing encourages developers to collaborate, teachers to explore and students to take greater ownership of their learning. Community is really Moodle’s killer feature and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.