Guest Post: this post is written and contributed by Dr. Nancy Zingrone. Note that WizIQ is a supporter of Moodlenews.com.
Those of us who are building up teaching businesses or supplementing classrooms in districts or at universities or schools who don’t provide ways of getting in touch face-to-face in online classes, or who have big ideas about teaching and technology and want to reach a wide audience; well, we are always on the lookout for open source technology and affordable technology to help us achieve our goals.
Moodle has been a Godsend to many of us because it provides a free and downloadable learning management system that can be installed easily and set up quickly. Intuitive, feature rich, customizable in look and feel and teaching tools, Moodle is a joy to use for asynchronous teaching/training of all kinds.
Part of Moodle’s customizability are the “blocks” that allow the user to bring in other forms of technology to serve their students’ needs.
Another thing that makes Moodle so powerful is the fact that it is open source. Individuals all over the world can contribute improvements to the underlying software, develop plug-ins that expand its suite of options. And, of course, that the folks at Moodle headquarters are very focused on what the users want and need. Because of the feature set, the perception of its users and customers as partners in the continual improvement of the software, a community has grown up around Moodle that is interactive, mutually supportive, and appreciative of the efforts of the staff at the Moodle HQ.
WizIQ is a lot like Moodle in terms of the way in which it sees itself and its relationship to the teachers, institutions and universities who have adopted it’s synchronous webinar system. WizIQ is not free but it has always been affordable, and over the years the responsiveness to the needs of its customers has been legend. I once pitched the system to my faculty and staff at an online graduate school I helped run. I found myself needing to let my staff and faculty know that WizIQ customer service was so good, you had to kind of hold them at bay. It reminded me of being taken to the toy store as a kid by one of my grandfathers. If I had let him, he would have bought me every toy in the store. That’s how I feel about the service I’ve gotten over the years from WizIQ: my needs, my suggestions, my queries were always answered and frequently anticipated, and I am a “little” teacher with only a few courses of my own. We are all important as partners in the enterprise: students, tutors, teaching entrepreneurs, small schools to large universities.
WizIQ offers not only a feature-rich virtual classroom system that exceeds the feature set of the usual webinar system, it also provides a social medial environment for teachers and students. The WizIQ virtual classroom includes video, chat, whiteboards, tools for collaboration, easy uploads of PowerPoints and other media for live classes, online conferences, lectures, or individual tutoring sessions that the customer needs. The WizIQ social media extensions allows for class discussions, for teachers to follow one another, keep contact lists of their students, upload materials and tests, and process payments. Like Moodle, treating the customer as a partner, has had a similar impact on WizIQ’s users: communities of learners and teachers have grown up around the system, and there is an exceedingly productive back-and-forth that pushes the development of new services and new features.
Putting these two extraordinary teaching tools into close proximity to each other makes for a very powerful combination. WizIQ provides a virtual classroom plug-in for Moodle that allows a teacher to manage the scheduling of synchronous meet-ups for students in their Moodle-based classes. Embedded in the Moodle framework, not only can students see the schedule of the synchronous class meetings easily, but once completed, students have access to the recordings by clicking the same link that would have taken them to the real-time webinar.
In the synchronous classrooms students and teachers have access to WizIQ’s interactive whiteboard for in-class activities, polling, break-out rooms, the media library, easy uploading of content, and the ability to copy the chat so that it can be pasted into a Word doc for future use.
There is also a single sign-in: students in the Moodle class can log into the synchronous meetups through the plug in: no additional membership is required for students to join the live class on WizIQ. There is no need to download anything on a student’s computer, and no need to provide training: the WizIQ classroom is that intuitive to use.
For teachers, the plug-in is used to schedule live classes and manage the materials and features available to the students. Reports are made available on how many students logged in and for how many minutes. Students who log into to watch recordings are also included in participation reports. Teachers can download these participation reports and use them for grading, reports to parents, or integrate them into the school’s student information system. Recordings of live classes can also be downloaded by the students and the participation report includes data on how many students chose to download lectures and live classes as well.
If the user is a school, there are payment plans that cover different numbers of teachers and different numbers of live classes, so that the school can budget according to their own needs. Once using the plug-in, if Moodle upgrades, the upgraded plug-in can be downloaded at no extra charge.
WizIQ provides a great installation guide that can be downloaded and there is always someone you can ask for help if you need it. In addition, there is an enormous amount of WizIQ tutorials and live classes to help you with the WizIQ side of things, and an equally deep set of tutorials, live classes and partnerships with such Moodle training organizations as Dr. Nellie Deutsch’s Moodle for Teachers programs and the frequent free Moodle MOOCs on WizIQ.
Moodle and WizIQ are a mash-up made in heaven. Even if you already have a Moodle site, and a WizIQ account and are teaching only a few students, having both in your teacher’s tool kit expands your activities in significant way. And, if you are searching for a live class system that can integrate with a large scale university Moodle set-up, WizIQ has a deep bench of support staff who are used to devising and designing even more customized relationships.
Moodle is known for its ease of use and breadth of tools to help even the smallest teaching operation to thrive. WizIQ, equally, provides for the ability to build your audience, your contacts, and infuse your teaching efforts with face-to-face community building activities, a lively chat room, and a live class that requires a minimum amount of bandwidth and thus allows you to extend your reach to students who may not have the best bandwidth, or upload or download speed in the world.
There’s a shared attitude towards teaching and learning between these two companies that makes the mash-up even better: both companies listen to the teachers and to the learners, no matter the size of the teaching operation or the level of a student’s eagerness to learn. For more information check out the WizIQ-Moodle page.
Dr. Nancy Zingrone has a PhD in psychology from the University of Edinburgh and an MSEd in Higher Education from Northern Illinois University. She is passionate about online education and is a blogger and writer at WizIQ. Her work background includes more than twenty years in personal and individual differences research, publishing, higher education administration, and adult education.