Moodling and social constructivist pedagogy

I planned to devote time playing in the Moodle sandpit today, however I spent most of the day browsing and reading about the new/updated features in version 2.3 and re-reading a great book I used back in 2009 when I first worked with Moodle (version 1.9).

Whilst most resources related to anything technology are well out of date 5 years on, Moodle Teaching Techniques by William H Rice IV, Mark Bailye, Gurudutt Talgery and Derrin Kent, has remained relevant through its focus on how Moodle can be used to create effective and meaningful learning environments and situations.

Whilst the book cycles through many Moodle features, most of which remain current and/or updated, it does so in the context of how each tool might be used to support high quality learning outcomes.

Whilst reading this book again, I am reminded of the critical differences between face to face and online modes of teaching and learning. It is challenging to establish an online environment where participants feel connected and engaged, as opposed to isolated and detached. The authors of this book recognise this challenge and propose practical ways that Moodle can be used to enhance the online learning experience, through a social constructivist pedagogy.

Their philosophy is based on four concepts:

  • As students interact with their learning environment, online course activities and other students, they acquire new knowledge
  • Students learn best when they construct learning experiences for each other
  • Students learn through cultural interaction
  • Students learn in different ways. In a constructivist learning environment, where they can choose their learning approach, their learning potential is optimised

I appreciated reading the authors’ suggestions for using Moodle to replicate face to face instructional principles. They describe how a range of different Moodle resources and activities can be used in place of lesson outlines, mnemonics and reminders, response cards, pre-correction, juxtaposing examples and non-examples, guided notes, group discussion, self-monitoring activities, time trials and Socratic Dialogue.

Forums, chat rooms, quizzes, lessons, wikis, glossaries, choice (surveys) and workshops are all discussed in considerable detail and each chapter emphasises practical ways to use these for valuable educational outcomes.

Food for thought … more reading to follow and more information in the next post …

Reference

Rice IV, William H, Bailye, M, Talgery, G, Kent, D. Moodle Teaching Techniques: Creative Ways to Use Moodle for Constructing Online Learning Solutions. Pakt Publishing, Birmingham UK. 2007.