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Mira Vogel, Goldsmiths, University of London. Using VLEs effectively Goldsmiths’ experience. 25 minutes of you choose what…. VLEs from different perspectives Distinctive Moodle features (15-20 min) Overview and specific examples Examples of how we use the VLE at Goldsmiths

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mira vogel goldsmiths university of london
Mira Vogel, Goldsmiths, University of London

Using VLEs effectively

Goldsmiths’ experience

25 minutes of you choose what
25 minutes of you choose what…
  • VLEs from different perspectives
  • Distinctive Moodle features (15-20 min)
    • Overview and specific examples
  • Examples of how we use the VLE at Goldsmiths
    • General to specific
  • Ideas for achieving most effective use of VLE
    • 5 mins ideas from me, for discussion
  • Discuss and present your fantasy VLE
    • Listen to my presentation on Moodle features
    • In groups: your fantasy VLE – what features would it include, and how would they help teaching and learning?
    • Jot your ideas on a Wiki and present them
  • Anything else?


One-stop shop for different media, interactivity and communication

VLEs – the student view



helps to make the most of the face-to-face-time






student concerns
VLE mustn’t threaten f2f time






Lack of non-verbal social cues - unnerving or liberating?

Typing – new communication difficulties / strengths?

Longevity of a statement

Feeling of being watched

Inhibiting / motivating?

Expectations low and high

Multimedia not a priority

Demands for flexibility

Many different platforms

Difficulties accessing material


As advertised, when promised.

Any others?

Student concerns

VLEs – the tutor/author view


Managing learning



Helps make the most of the face-to-face time

Producing learning



Designing learning




tutor concerns
How to drive a VLE

Configuring, uploading, different perspectives &tc

Web design requires new skills and knowledge

Different platforms

Perception – eg line length, placing elements &tc

Intuitive navigation


Learning design requires new skills

When and how to use the tools


E-moderating is very different from f2f facilitation

Providing the medium does not mean it will be well used

Lack of time to prepare

Also remember to make available

Reservations about making stuff available online


VLE mustn’t threaten f2f time

Any more?

Tutor concerns
a systems administrator view of moodle
A systems administrator view of moodle
  • As the user group grows,  stability,  features
    • Eg LDAP authentication now built in
    • Burden of flagging bugs is widely spread – quickly fixed
  • Light workload – last month only 1½ hours critical jobs
    • More if you take advantage of changing the source code
    • Installing a new release takes 2-3 hours – as and when
  • “..don’t need a great deal of specialised knowledge”
    • Server administration an important skill – can be picked up
  • Uh-oh – what’s going on…?
    • The forums are incredibly useful – OS ethos
    • Compare commercial systems which do not support access to developers and other users Contents
what s distinctive about moodle
Pedagogic aspects

Emphasis on activities and interaction

Social constructivist model emphasises connectedness as a stimulus for learning

Flexible – we can change it

Straightforward for most -  cognitive load

Return to global perspective of an institution – interdisciplinary insights

Open source aspects


User-group - lively, friendly, supportive, sharing

Support – timely but requires initiative.

Ownership self-efficacy

Faith in the face of inadequacies

Nimble responses to bugs, wishlists & new approaches

Documentation – variable currency, completeness & relevance.

What’s distinctive about Moodle?
features of moodle
Features of Moodle
  • Four roles in moodle
    • Administrator, course creator, lecturer, student
    • Those higher in the hierarchy can assume lower roles
  • Three course types
    • Topic view, weekly view and social view
  • Integration of different file types
  • Scheduling and organising
  • Strong on activities in groups or individually:
    • Assignment, Chat, Choice, Dialogue, Forum, Glossary, Journals, Lesson, Wiki, Workshop
  • Coming soon (among other things):
    • Blog tool; greater configurability of groups; full accessibility
goldsmiths experience with moodle
Worst use

Files, files and more files

Information graveyard

Imbalance – no activities

Fragmented course areas

Lack of context or hierarchies of importance

Empty forums and chat sessions

Missed opportunities for communication

Expectation that students can comfortably read from a screen

Best use

The vibrant PGCE forums

Mutual support for remote students – meets a real need

Self assessment - EFL

Embedded fill-in-the-blank questions with feedback

Wiki as a gallery space for Art & Design students

Workshop for

Peer-reviewing journal articles at a distance

Reviewing online Creole language resources

Goldsmiths’ experience with Moodle
our teaching and learning challenge
Our teaching and learning challenge
  • Move on from naïve usage
  • Our teaching and learning challenge:
    • Tutors preparing / gathering / pointing to content AND designing activities which promote the higher forms of learning
    • Flexible design for diverse learners
    • Trustworthiness - currency, completeness, accuracy, attribution, adherence to schedule, housekeeping
    • Usability, accessibility, affective responses
  • Our fellowship scheme - £££ for buying out time, buying equipment &tc
  • Workshops – 2 hours on a variety of topics

We spent a while watching our birdbox

Ideas for the future

Distinctive Moodle Features

moodle the less intuitive activities
Moodle - the less intuitive activities
  • Choice
  • Glossary
  • Journal
  • Lesson
  • Quizzes
  • Wiki
  • (Scorm)
  • Workshop
moodle choice polling tool

Promotes involvement

Allows consultation

Configurable - eg how respondents see results


Once choice only – can’t use it for eg rating or matching

Single question only – not a questionnaire



Straw polls

Enticing learners into a course space

Quick consultation in advance of session

Specific feedback

Examples in practice

Contact celt@gold.ac.uk for access to light pollution legislation

Moodle choice – polling tool
moodle glossary shared reference

Can be activity or resource

Useful for acquainting learners with basic terms and concepts – a grounding

Builds research and communication skills


Needs a validation method


Defining frequently used jargon or difficult concepts

Trigger for discussion and debate

Use in practice

Contact celt@gold.ac.uk for access to Astronomy 101

Moodle glossary – shared reference
moodle journal reflective dialogue

A self-contained record for future reference

Can flag progress or difficulties

Configurable – can be shown to or hidden from other students


Tutor initiated – not a blog

Depends on the trigger question

Tutor must check – or  motivation, and  cynical checking boxes

Can be a drag to complete


Personally keeping in touch with students

Gauging and comparing attitudes

Examples in practice

PGCE students on placements – confidential so unable to show.

Moodle journal – reflective dialogue
moodle lessons guided learning

Gated progress

Branched navigation – can be very responsive



Easy to swamp student with information

A little too “programmed” for some…


Good for grounding in procedures, mechanisms &tc

Good for clearing up frequent misunderstandings

Examples in practice

Contact celt@gold.ac.uk for access to Renewable energy

Moodle lessons – guided learning
moodle quiz self test and assessment




A bit clunky to set up

Some formats involve (simple) hand-coding

Simple interface – eg no drag-and-drop (SCORM a solution here)


Consolidate knowledge

Identify gaps in knowledge

Benchmark knowledge


Examples in practice

Contact celt@gold.ac.uk for access to Revise solar water heating and Astronomy quiz

Moodle quiz – self-test and assessment
moodle wikis web sites edited by users
Moodle wikis – web sites edited by users
  • Strengths
    • Quick and easy to publish and revise
    • No need for expertise, client software
    • Remote collaboration on shared resource
  • Drawbacks
    • Vulnerable to inexperienced users, or even abuse
    • Needs ground rules
      • Eg risk of conflict when saving – lost work
  • Application
    • Many – eg showcase, regular website…
    • Planning, sharing examples
  • Examples in practice
    • Contact celt@gold.ac.uk for access to Our homes
moodle workshop peer review

Supports complexity eg criteria, weighting

Supports scales, yes/no, numerical and free text

Various ways to disseminate results


Designing good ones takes time and thought

Requires manually enabling the different stages


Peer review

Groups reviewing external resources

Examples in practice

Contact celt@gold.ac.uk for access to Metaphysics workshop


Moodle workshop – peer review
Ideas for the future

Ideas for the future

ideas for the future
“Hypothecated” fellowships for use of specific tools, or adoption of specific criteria?

Eg use of a feature like peer-review (Workshop) or Wiki

Eg Integration of VLE and f2f

Stop shielding tutors from the technicalities

Staff development

Raising awareness

Opportunistic piggy-backing

Outreach work

Ratification in the strategy

Develop guidelines or even protocols and request adherence by VLE users?

Eg Housekeeping

Eg Balance of information and activities

Embed e-learning into

Staff-development courses?

Student feedback criteria?

More incentives for best use?

Value it – prizes with cred

Also support for poor use

*Mira’s, not necessarily Goldsmiths’. Contents

Ideas* for the future
Ideas for the future

Discussion / poll

discuss the best thing about vles
Discuss: the best thing about VLEs?
  • A Virtual Learning Environment is a way to unite content creation and management, activities, communication, and organising students.
  • Go to http://moodledev.gold.ac.uk (contact celt@gold.ac.uk for access if necessary) and take the poll there (Choice)
  • Question
    • Out of the choices below, what do you think is the most useful aspect of a Virtual Learning Environment?
      • Added communication channels.
      • Monitoring how students use a course.
      • Easy creation of content for online delivery.
      • Availability of material any time, any place, anywhere.
      • Coordinating activities at a distance.
      • Freeing up face-to-face time.
references bibliography
References / bibliography
  • Course management systems comparison:http://www.edutools.info/course/compare/byproduct/http://www.cmsmatrix.org
  • The story of Moodle at Dublin City Universityhttp://odtl.dcu.ie/wp/2004/odtl-2004-01.html
  • Moodle forum: Comparisons and Advocacyhttp://moodle.org/mod/forum/view.php?id=2784