Nellie Deutsch, Ed.D
University of Phoenix and Atlantic University
I’ve been coined the Moodle Lady by many Moodle for Teacher (M4T) graduates. I plan to share some of my blended and fully online teaching experiences with Moodle on Moodle News. However, before I get started, I’d like to share a little about my background.
Here are a few dates you may find interesting. I’ve been an admin of my own Moodle site and teaching with Moodle since 2003. I have been mentoring teachers on how to use Moodle since 2004.
Teaching and learning online is a very important part of my life. It all started in the early 90s when I began to use the computer room at my school to teach English as a foreign language (EFL). It was called computer-assisted language learning in those days. Teaching in a physical classroom and at a distance via the Internet or blended learning was not as easy as it is today. There were very few free learning management systems available to the public, so word processors and emails were used quite extensively to communicate with students. As a result, I had to develop my own websites, WebQuests, and lesson plans based on Microsoft programs and authoring tools.
Teaching blended and later fully online courses not only changed the way I teach and learn, it transformed me as an individual. I started communicating with a lot of wonderful people on discussion forums as a way to learn and improve my online instruction. That’s when I realized that learning with other people was the only way to learn.
Many of you may not realize it, but Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google Plus, and other social networks did not exist in the early 90s. People connected for learning by going on lists and asking questions. Today, you can just Google your question and get more hits than you can manage. You can also share ideas and questions on social networks and get instant feedback.
I’ve been teaching in the traditional school environment for over 30 years. I have rebelled against the school system since grade 8. I have seen few changes in formal education. In the past and today students need constant challenges in order to focus in the classroom. Teachers in the past were expected to engage their students in experiential (hands on) learning activities that promote social skills via teamwork, higher order critical thinking skills via inquiry and problem-based learning, and technological skills so students can grow as individuals and become effective learners. Nothing has changed. Teachers are still required to facilitate learning, but have the advantage of using technology.
As a teacher in the school system, I have always focused on one question. Am I doing all I can to facilitate instruction and learning for each one of my students? If not, how can I reach my students? How can I relate to them? What adjustments do I need to make in my behavior? What tools are available to facilitate the process of engagement and learning?
I realized early on (late 80s) that teaching in a physical class was limiting. Learning has no time or place. It happens 24/7. I started searching for a learning management system that would facilitate instruction and learning. I found Moodle in 2003 and WizIQ live virtual class in 2007. I have not looked back.
Moodle allows me to connect with students in a safe password-protected environment 24/7. However, it’s hard to really connect unless you have the face-to-face real time element, too. I wanted to reach out to my students, but emails and discussion forums were not enough. I found chats limiting because we couldn’t share audio, video, image or text files and engage in solving problems on a whiteboard.
I searched for virtual classes that had whiteboard where we can share files and engage in discussions and problem solving using the writing tools, the chat, mice, and webcams. I wanted a live online class that would allow my students and I to engage in quality learning. I found Interwise, Elluminate, Gotomeetings, Adobe, Dimdim, Hotconference, WizIQ, and other free and paid programs, but they all had shortcomings. I had no problems with that, but none of the companies were ready to listen to my needs, except for WizIQ.
I now use WizIQ live classes in all my Moodle courses. WizIQ can be integrated into Moodle, Blackboard or and other websites. I’m a very demanding teacher. I keep asking for improvements so that students from around the globe can receive quality learning whether they learn in formal or informal, blended or fully online programs. I’m pleased to say that the developers at WizIQ listen and deliver.
You’re invited to ask questions, share your experiences with teaching and learning online, and make suggestions.
As a disclaimer, everything I write in these blog posts are my own personal views based on my teaching experiences. The fact that WizIQ, Moodle partners, or other companies have ads on this blog site does not reflect my opinions in any way. I am not the owner of the blog and do not gain any monetary benefits from the ads or from writing these posts.