This interview discusses the history, governance and future of Moodle, our favorite learning management system. Especially interesting are Martin’s comments about the improvements in Moodle 2.0, and the future of personal education as it impacts thinking about Moodle 3.0 (or Moodle-X).
I recently received an email from a faculty member who wanted his students to collaborate online to essentially write a text on the course topic, and he asked whether to use a wiki or Google Docs. So I replied:
A wiki would be a good choice to support collaborative writing, and you would have a number of options for which wiki to use: the Wiki activity in Moodle, the campus Confluence wiki, or a third party wiki such as PBWorks:
Advantages for Moodle: no need for students to go to a site separate from the other course materials, one stop shopping, no need to deal with sign-in issues. You can set up a discussion forum activity for students to talk about the project, and the wiki for them to do it. Limitations: it’s not the most powerful wiki engine, and it would be another step at the end for the project to be exported to an accessible location.
The Confluence wiki on campus has better editing features, and pages that students are working on can also include separate comments for discussing the work and planning changes. No sign in issues as it uses the Purchase College login. The campus Confluence wiki is not accessible to outside parties though.
Outside systems such as PBWorks: you and your students would need to deal with a separate login, and it wouldn’t be tied in with other resources and activities you are using in your Moodle course. It would be a more robust wiki system however, and sharing the final product with the world would be easy.
For any of the wiki options, I’m guessing you would set up the different chapters as distinct pages in the wiki project, and have a front page with table of contents that links to the different chapters. Both Moodle and Confluence would allow you to export the site in one format or another. I’m sure something like PBWorks would allow that as well.
If you went the Google Docs route, you’d have to deal with making sure students are set up with Google accounts so that the developing docs can be shared with all of the students. You’d probably set up each chapter as a separate doc, and you would have the option to choose which students have editing rights on the different chapter docs and which have just view access. You could share the set of docs with everyone, once the project is done. You’d also be able to export each doc as a Word or PDF file, if that’s the end point you’re looking for. You could then combine all of the chapter .doc or .pdf files to create your overall book.
If this is going to be a major project for your online course, you’ll also want to be able to see what contributions each student is making. All the wiki tools and Google Docs saves a version history, which you can use to see who’s updating the documents and what they are adding (or substracting). I don’t know that any of them have an option for reviewing all of the changes made by a specific collaborator, so you might be stuck with having to review each document version, to see how substantial each individual contribution by a student is.
Too many options maybe….
Let me know what direction you think best fits your project idea.
This is a repository of 20 short papers dealing with various aspects of effective teaching, put together by the IDEA Center and the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education (POD). The papers are all 2 pages long, and would be good resources for faculty brown bag discussions or other talks on teaching. The papers share a common format: a background section, that lays out the conceptual framework for the topic; helpful hints, which describes applications of the topic to instruction or examines different scenarios; and assessment issues, which discusses approaches to assessing the implementation of the topic in teaching and learning. Each paper includes a references and resources section as well.
Topics covered by papers in the repository include:
- Displayed a personal interest in students and their learning
- Found ways to help students answer their own questions
- Scheduled course work (class activities, tests, projects) in ways which encouraged students to stay up-to-date in their work
- Demonstrated the importance and significance of the subject matter
- Formed ‘teams’ or ‘discussion groups’ to facilitate learning
- Made it clear how each topic fit into the course
- Explained the reasons for criticisms of students’ academic performance
- Stimulated students to intellectual effort beyond that required by most courses
- Encouraged students to use multiple resources (e.g. data banks, library holdings, outside experts) to improve understanding
- Explained course material clearly and concisely
- Related course material to real life situations
- Gave tests, projects, etc. that covered the most important parts of the course
- Introduced stimulating ideas about the subject
- Involved students in ‘hands-on’ projects such as research, case studies, or ‘real life’ activities
- Inspired students to set and achieve goals which really challenged them
- Asked students to share ideas and experiences with others whose backgrounds and viewpoints differ from their own
- Provided timely and frequent feedback on tests, reports, projects, etc. to help students improve
- Asked students to help each other understand ideas or concepts
- Gave projects, tests, or assignments that required original or creative thinking
- Encouraged student-faculty interaction outside of class