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The eLearning Podcast With Stephen Ladek

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In this episode I’ll be talking about the most important stories from the Moodleverse for the week of November 6th, 2017. In this episode, I’ll be discussing the new Education Team at Moodle, the rise of classroom anxiety, Moodle’s Quiz Templates and much, much more.


Page 1: THE WEEK THAT WAS

  • First, we reported on some of the most critical issues “bugging” Moodle users.
    • Even though Moodle is one of the most robust learning platforms available, it is still a living, breathing ecosystem and, as such, issue and bugs will always exist.
    • In all fairness, the issues people tend to be most interested in are usually the result of pushing Moodle to the limit. We’re talking about sites with over a thousand categories, and one Moodle Course with over 5,000 different activities!
    • In any case, the message is clear: if you care about having a smooth Moodle experience, say something! It’s very common that a user only realizes there’s something wrong with Moodle when they find other users complaining, in the Moodle Tracker or the Forum.
  • Speaking of quality control, the QA stage for Moodle 3.4 is coming along nicely.
    • One week before the scheduled launch of version 3.4, volunteers from all over the world are making sure the latest Moodle works smoothly for everyone.
    • As we record this episode, there are still hundreds of open and unclaimed issues looking for your contribution. What are you waiting for! Visit the post by Helen Foster to get started.
    • Less than 3% of the test have failed, but if not enough people can help with testing in time, there is a fair chance the release of Moodle 3.4 will be delayed.
  • Finally, registrations are open for the brand new “Learn Moodle 3.4 Basics” MOOC this January
    • According to an interview with Elizabeth Dalton, this course will emphasize how to find a teaching style that supports the many tools and activities you find in Moodle.
    • Another small difference is the addition of “Basic” in the name. We can expect more advanced and specialized courses, in a more robust educational offering by Moodle HQ.
    • Sign up now at learn.moodle.net, or download the “Learn Moodle” app for Android and iOS, and follow the conversation with the #LearnMoodle.

If you’re looking for more information and resources, send us an email, a comment or a tweet.

Page 2: IN THE NEWS

In this section, I discuss interesting information that affects everyone in #edtech.

Troubling reports about a rise in levels of anxiety across classrooms are coming from all over the world, especially in the US since the beginning of the year.

  • So, I don’t know if this is just me, but in the past few weeks I’ve come across several stories about students who suddenly find that things are “too much to handle.”
    • Since at least 2014 the American Psychological Association has been warning that stress levels in teenagers are rising, sometimes surpassing adults.
    • Then there’s the underreporting problem, often associated with mental health stigma. Researchers are starting to suspect this problem is more acute in minority students.
    • Now, ask a psychologist, and they will probably agree that a little stress is healthy and helps with students’ outcomes. But when that turns into feeling overwhelmed, depressed or fatigued, we’re in a whole new ballpark.
  • But these problems are not only reserved for students. It is common knowledge that teaching is one of the most psychologically demanding occupations out there. In fact, statistics show that the average workload for a teachers has increased non-stop for about 20 years.
    • But, its not all bad news. Educators are starting to organize to support each other and tackle these important issues in learning.
    • One great example is Mindful Schools, which offers resources and the opportunity to meet educators near you, to talk about how mindfulness could influence our approaches to education.
  • Of course, this is a complex problem: How can technology help? Or at the very least, not make things worse?
    • For starters, a simple tool that tracks how students and teachers spend their time could let us know if, for example, they are getting enough rest, sleep, leisure and physical activity.
    • On a more psychological level, a series of apps using principles of cognitive-based therapy show promise helping people manage their anxiety. There’s already quite a few out there but, as it is also the case with mindfulness applications, more research is needed.
    • Further down the line, technology needs to consider these emotional components in the design of learning interventions. Social engagement, stigmatization, and emotional resilience, are some of the subjects we might want to debate more often.

This section of LWMN is sponsored by WizIQ, a ready-to-use, integrated delivery platform for instructors and institutions. Get everything you need to teach and train online at wiziq.com.


Page 3: THE MOODLEVERSE

In this section, I dive in-depth into one of the most interesting topics happening in the Moodle community over the past week.

In the past few months, Moodle HQ has worked hard to promote more quality debate on education, looking to balance teachers voices.

  • At MoodleMoot New Orleans this past July, Moodle HQ officially debuted the Education team, led by Tom Murdock.
    • In his talks, Tom acknowledges a bit of a language divide right at the heart of Moodle, which, for many teachers, is too much to bear. Definitely a missed opportunity, both for the teacher and the Moodleverse.
    • So part of the efforts of the Education team is to bridge this gap, and help Moodle speak the language of teachers, so they can feel more comfortable.
    • It seems the “Schiro model,” which is used to classify the approaches in EdTech, will play a large role in accommodating more teaching styles and make it easier for teachers to take advantage of Moodle.
  • Then, later this week, an interview at moodle.com revealed another member of the education team: Bob McDonald, a former sales executive at Moodlerooms, Kaltura and D2L.
    • Bob believes there is a few lessons teachers and educational technologists can get from sales and marketing fields. He is aware that might sound a little odd.
    • Suffice it to say, in a way education is about making people “buy into” something. Into a subject, a technology, and education itself.
    • From his role as education advisor, he will work closely with Moodle Partners to help understand the needs of the community by continuously asking “How do I know what I think I know?”
  • So what’s the next step? Tom and Bob, and probably a few more, will focus on many areas related to professional development around Moodle.
    • Another important focus, following a trend we’ve seen and reported in the past year, is the rise of Open Educational Resources, or OER, and how it can be more easily integrated into the workflow of educators.
    • At the end of the day, something Tom focuses on in his interviews and talks, is empowering teachers through Moodle. This can include more collaborative problem solving, networking, training, and maybe even a platform where teachers can license educational content.

Page 4: MOODLE PRACTICE

In this section, I focus on a practical way to help you up your Moodle game.

It seems like I will always find another reason to be surprised by the features in Moodle, although sometimes I wonder why do they often seem to be hidden to most of us.

  • This week, thanks to moodle.com I learned about the mix of two concepts that are new to me, but seem to have been around for a while.
    • The first concept is the “Learning Object.” It is a more general interpretation of a Moodle Activity, that is relatively free and portable, meaning I can bring my “Learning Objects” across Moodle sites, and between Moodle and compatible systems.
    • The other concept is the “Template.” Specifically, the Quiz Templates.
    • So if your work involves creating lots of very similar questions, and sometimes having to take them to other Moodle sites, you might find that the match between Learning Objects and Quiz Templates was made in heaven.
  • If you want to get a taste of what a Quiz Template can do, just head over to moodle.net, and on the “Content” section on the right panel, click on “Quiz Questions.” From there you can search or browse for “Moodle Quiz Question Templates.”
    • You will find a compressed package with templates for many Question Types. You will need the application 7-ZIP to unpack all the files.
    • Then, upload the unpacked files to the file system of your Moodle site. This must be done by an admin. They can put the templates on a course directory, or on a higher level so all courses can access them.
    • To use the templates, you need to have permissions to create Quiz banks, so you can create a copy of the template and modify it to your wish.
  • Now, thanks to Scott Hallman, from the University of Otago in New Zealand, who developed these templates, you will be able to create effective and powerful Quizzes, right within Moodle, easy to make and explore.
    • Among the options you’ll have, for example, an “image template” exercise, where students must fill in the text fields associated with specific questions in a picture of your choosing.
    • More advanced templates allow you to create highly interactive content, or enabling freehand drawing responses.
    • The templates are easy to link to the GradeBook, and set the number of tries, among other things. And if you need to take your questions outside Moodle, you can export the questions as SCORM packages and use them in compatible systems.

Page 5. THIS WEEK IN

  • Moodle competitor Canvas just reached $1 billion dollars in stock market valuation.
    • Does it affect Moodle? In short, probably not. But the comparison between Moodle and proprietary systems always has a certain allure we can’t just say not to.
    • It’s undeniable that Canvas has sustained a pace of growth that no other LMS has matched in recent years, but it is still a ways from the volume of global users from Moodle or Blackboard.
    • So stay tuned as we consider the implications, and if there are any lessons to learn from Canvas impressive rate of growth in the US.
  • IMS Global launches the LTI Advantage program.
    • With the help of Blackboard, the consortium in charge of setting the standards for LTI, or Learning Tools Interoperability specification, has created LTI Advantage with the goal of helping more organizations embrace the technology and build richer learning experiences.
    • While LTI is quite a popular subject across EdTech sites and conference halls, it still faces some challenges before going officially mainstream, including a larger base of developers with the necessary awareness and skills.
    • The announcement by IMS Global takes place parallel to the Educause Annual Conference, which for the first time featured Moodle founder Martin Dougiamas..
  • And it’s time for another open source tech recap!
    • The biggest news this month was the recent “H5P Con,” the first summit surrounding the interactive standard that’s slowly invading learning systems all over the world.
    • In AI developments, an effort by top universities might give us all a common set of standards and bespoke tools to apply everywhere!
    • And more! If you have a tip, give us an email. Our audience will thank you.

Ok – that’s it for this week. Thanks for listening. If you like what you’re hearing please take just a few seconds to give us a review on iTunes or whatever podcast app you happen to be using… And, of course, join me next week for all the most important news about Moodle.

LWMN is hosted and produced by Stephen Ladek, with writing, research, and editing by Cristian T. Duque and Joseph Thibault.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. The link to the quiz templates doesn’t work. Moodle.net reports that the entry hasn’t been approved yet. Is there an alternative download site?

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