Project Showcase - Presentations & Panel

Why Moodle?

Presentation: Moodle, an inexpensive truth.

Description: A skilled instructor can provide meaningful learning experiences with most any online platform. Yet, the implicit design dictates how courses are developed and taught on a given platform. Moodle represents two fundamental changes in learning platforms: a paradigm shift toward social constructivism and a freeing up of resources from purchasing of software and liaising with IT staff, to one of mentorship and collaboration among educators in a given field. It allows educators to rapidly integrate the system into their teaching and lets IT professionals focus on fine-tuning the system for localized needs, rather than building content.

This brief introduction suggests ways Moodle broadens online platforms by moving beyond passive transmission of objectified knowledge, toward realizing a personal experience that extends, reinforces, or supplants classroom-based teaching and learning. The essential strengths of Moodle will be considered from the perspectives of philosophy, communities of learning, integration of Moodle into a current curriculum, and realistic instructor training demands.

Bio: Stephen Culhane, the founding President of the Pacific Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning (PacCALL), recently 'retired' from an Associate Professorship in English Education at Kagoshima University in Southern Japan to pursue research into cultural learning through online communities. Dr. Culhane now teaches communication in the school of Computing and Academic Studies at BCIT, and serves as a consultant and workshop facilitator, having given recent plenaries, presentations, and workshops on CALL and online learning in China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, and Canada. Dr. Culhane has been working with Moodle since 2003 and currently leads an international research effort to design a Moodle-based 'e-homestay' environment to foster naturalistic acquisition of a second language and culture. His expertise is in teacher development and instructional methodologies through computer based learning. Presently overseeing a pilot program in Moodle at BCIT, he has also coordinated and assisted in Moodle implementation at a number of universities and colleges in Japan and Taiwan.

Presentation: Using Moodle for Group Projects

Principle Researcher: David Leach, UVic Writing Department

Funding: UVic Learning and Teaching Centre

Description: For my grant-funded project, I used Moodle to redesign WRIT 216, from a theoretical media studies course, into a more practical magazine writing and publishing course, which would mirror the collaborative creative environment typical at a periodical publication. In Moodle, students generated and debated ideas for new magazines, chose their preferred magazine(s) and were then assigned to groups. Over the rest of the semester, these groups used discussion boards and wiki pages to collaborate and draft a proposal for a new magazine (which they orally presented to the rest of the class). Students also used Moodle to have general discussions about course material, to read new links, glossary entries and other resources I had posted, to workshop each other's drafts and to submit revised assignments. I welcome any discussion of how Moodle might be used by other instructors to facilitate small-group projects outside of the fixed times and physical locations of the classroom environment.

Bio: David Leach is an assistant professor of journalism and non-fiction in the Department of Writing. He has a professional background in magazine editing and a longtime interest in teaching with technology, especially virtual learning environments. For the last three years, he has used Moodle in four different Writing courses. Last year, he received a Learning and Teaching Centre grant to compare the effectiveness and ease of use of four different online teaching tools (Moodle, WebCT, Drupal, Listserv).