Technology and using it in the classroom have become a major issue in the last few years. Teaching online and using more computers and computer-based resources in the classroom are becoming commonplace in almost every school. One word that you may have heard in passing (or may have already been using in class) is Moodle.
I have been working with Moodle for almost two years, and it has the potential to be a great resource for any ESL class.
What is Moodle?
Moodle is a Learning Management System (LMS) platform that many education providers use to host either a few courses, a whole program, or a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)!
Moodle resides on an Internet site that students log in to in order to communicate with teachers and other students or to access lessons and class material. These sites are being used more and more by colleges and universities to provide resources for students, as well as track grades and assignments, and provide an easy method for communicating.
The main difference from having a regular Internet-based class website or blog is that students must log in to use Moodle, giving you the opportunity to easily track students as well as restrict access so only your students can use it.
The best thing about Moodle is that it’s free (very important) and open-source (meaning anyone can add and change it).
Like Firefox (my favourite web browser), it benefits from having a large community of people continuously improving and updating the program.
It is also very user-friendly. Aside from the initial installation, which requires it to be set up on a network and published online (i.e. assigning it a web address), using it for your ESL classroom just takes time and trial-and-error experimentation.
My first encounter with this type of site, which some of you may be familiar with, was the Canadian Language Benchmarks ‘Boot Camp’ (found at http://elearning.language.ca/ but not operational at time of publication) which gives a thorough course in CLB concepts, using a Moodle platform.
So, what can it do for an ESL classroom?
Moodle is very versatile, and there are a number of things you can use it for. For example:
- Have extra practice and review exercises for listening, grammar, reading, and writing, with the capability to have video and audio files
- Give quizzes and exams
- Use it to store class material that can be accessed from home
- Give links to other websites and resources
- Have students use it instead of email for communication and submitting assignments
- Make class announcements
- Conduct polls, surveys, and discussion forums
- Track student activity and marks
Where can I learn more or see some examples?
In my next blog post, I’ll go into more detail about my experiences with Moodle and the site I currently use in class.
One of my first introductions to Moodle was through LearnIT2teach, which has a CIC-funded 4-part professional development program organized on a Moodle platform. Although taking the professional development stages is restricted to CIC-funded teachers, anyone can get a general idea of how Moodle works through the support pages that they provide. Visit them at http://learnit2teach.ca/wpnew/
Have a try and see what Moodle is capable of. Happy exploring!
In what ways can you see benefits to using Moodle for your courses?