I went back home to Saskatchewan for Christmas this year and discovered my mom was moodling.  I grew up with two parents as teachers and I’ve always be inspired by them and strived to model myself after them.  In the area of technology I didn’t think I had a lot to draw from them, with my dad being retired for ten years, and my mom just retiring this week (Congrats Mom!).  Then I took a look at what my Mom has been doing.  She was teaching adult ed, partially in a distance ed environment.  She had students in other towns in Saskatchewan connecting to her classroom through video conferencing.  She was using moodle to post links and assignments.  This is a simple way to use moodle, but it was more than I was doing.   Nothing like seeing your Mom, months away from retirement was using technology you weren’t, especially when you consider yourself a tech dork.  It was all a bit humbling (which I need now and then).

I had heard of moodle and was seeing it as something the high school teachers could use, or one more thing I had to learn.  I had signed up for a day of moodle training last year and ended up sick, so it hit the back burner.  Now I’m one of the converted.  Once I dug into it I found it was fantastic.  Here are five reasons I use moodle with my students (grade 5):

1) Organize the links, flash activities, and other online tools – You can easily order, reorder, create folders, and link through visual icons, to create a path of learning activities to guide your students through.  Moodle allows you to put everything in one place and allows students to respond to those activities through submitting assignments, online quizzes, and discussion forums.

2) Create online quizzes with all sorts of questions – multiple choice, true false, matching, short answer, even essay.  Moodle will mark the right/wrong types of questions and allows you to mark the longer answer questions, enter the grade and then it compiles the marks together.

3) Incorporate interactive flash activities, widgets, and videos –  You can add all types of files.  You can upload any type of file you want students to see or use(pdf, powerpoint, notebook, images – anything!).  You can also embed anything that has embed html code.  There are special options to upload swf and flv flash files.

4) Modify and Tweak the HTML – Moodle is very adaptable.  You can use the WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) editors and build activities, questions, insert images, insert links in a simple to use editing window to create very effective engaging content.  You can also dig into the HTML code, add Java or CSS, to change and adapt things to make them more customized.

5) Collaborating and Discussions – Moodle is great for students to be able to build on each others activities and ideas.  I love the OU Wiki module for students to build a collective set of facts and information about a topic.  Moodle is great to use with a wiki because you can link in all sorts of links, interactive flash files, videos, and other research resources all in one place.  The discussion forums give every student a chance to share their ideas and respond to the ideas of others.  In a class discussion a quiet or shy student may not participate, but on moodle they can discuss, share ideas , and build on the ideas of others.

In five short months I’ve created moodle activites based around extreme weather, photostories, a novel study, and a resource collection.  I met some great people at the national Moodlemoot conference and I think that moodle is a fantastic educational tool – at all grade levels.