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Published February 13, 2011 | Nursing

Platform Series: Moodle

We felt that Lyne Maillet's account of her Moodle apprenticeship was an excellent conclusion to our small series of stories on digital learning platforms.

There are currently a number of institutions in the college network which are taking first steps1 towards the integration of the DECclic Moodle platform into their resources, but College de Maisonneuve, where Lyne Maillet teaches, has been using the Moodle platform since the spring of 2008.The Cégep de l'Outaouais adopted Moodle in October 2009. Mathematics teachers Francis Raymond and Line Laflèche described the versatility of the platform on which they grafted Wiris software.

A Moodle Course Home Page where you can, if desired, show a calendar (This page is from Lyne Maillet's course)

My Move to Moodle

I started using Moodle during my 2nd semester of teaching in 2008. The LEA platform was already available in my college, but I only used the MIO (Messaging In Omnivox) feature.

Although there were several features of Moodle that inspired me to develop my online courses, I instantly saw the potential of Moodle the first time I made a self-correcting test.

After that, I adapted the content of my first continuing education course for Moodle, and given my own intense teaching schedule, I particularly appreciated the platform. Our nursing students complete their school careers in two concentrated years rather than three. In such circumstances, academic support is critical, and the course content must be easily accessible at all times.

A Look at Moodle's Main Features

Great Moderation and Management Features

Controlling Site Access

Registration is handled automatically from the college's computers, however, I can add or withdraw students manually if required. As I hold access permissions, I can at any time accommodate a new visitor such as a student who joins class or a teacher whom I can assign the role of contributor. In Nursing, sharing is a constant, at least for the courses given jointly in our department. This helps centralize grades and course materials.

A Bank of Images for Dental Hygiene Created with the Database Function (Course of Nicole Pagé).

An Adaptable Site Reflecting the Nature of Learning

The schedule combines permanent and temporary course material, and the organization of the work keeps students on task. I ask students to undertake the following activities:

  • Create a class schedule which includes departmental activities. The first duty of the students is to find their project due dates and to review and arrange their own training schedule.
  • Answer some preliminary questions for the lab.
  • Print lecture notes and exercises.This material contains blank spaces to fill in with important course concepts. I try not to overload the student which I feel can detract from learning.
  • Print PowerPoint files, if they wish, to better monitor the course.
  • Explore upcoming material.
  • Check their understanding by completing self-correcting tests.
  • Participate in the creation of a glossary. The glossary serves an important purpose: the students have almost 500 words to learn in the course (Rôle professionnel de l'infirmière : 180-11-MA (The Professional Role of the Nurse)) and their dictionary creation contributes to their mastery of the material. I post some examples of definitions early in the session to model what to do, and the process is begun! Students then create teams to identify which words to define, and continue to write the definitions by themselves. Glossary words can reflect some of the concepts they do not understand completely. For this task, students find the class wiki of help. I reboot it each session. Participation is variable, however, as this activity is not for credit. I simply propose the wiki as a good method for learning vocabulary. Nicholas Walker uses the glossary for correction and feedback in a language course.

    An Example of a Glossary (course of Lyne Maillet).

Different Class Forums

Moodle contains a default forum on its website. This is not the traditional forum, but rather a place to send information to the students that I greatly appreciate. All emails that I have sent to the class from the beginning of the session are listed. Students can view them at will. This fits with the constructivist orientation towards knowledge of the pioneers of Moodle.

It is important to adjust this forum as required. As its purpose is to post priority information in nursing, I opted for feedback limited to the author of the statement or the teacher.

One can opt for a broader feedback, and in that case, the forum assumes its usual vocation of open discussion. There are many kinds of forums possible in Moodle.

Coaching

Activity Reports

These reports allow me to monitor the activities of each student on the site or group in a single activity. I can access the following statistics:

  • Attendance (news, downloaded documents or self-correcting exercises)
  • Success (grades for self-correcting tests and essay questions).

This allows me to target students in need and then helps me to understand the reasons for their failure. I know whether they did the exercises or not. When I make an appointment with a student, I can see what the problem is and whether its root is a lack of work or a lack of understanding. Adults, who often suffer from shyness, sometimes have difficulty organizing their tasks.

Self-correcting Tests

These interactive exercises serve as part of a formative approach for students and are strongly appreciated as they enable them to better understand nursing's code of ethics. The exercises help them to examine things and to reflect.

I discovered Moodle on my own, and I'm plunging in again this session! Moodle is a powerful tool for training!

Where are the Moodle users among us? What are your impressions of this learning environment?

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