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?
6 thoughts on “Come and Moodle with Me!”
I have also been using Moodle, via LearnIT2teach, for about two years now. The learners have found the site easy to navigate, once they get familiar with it, and really appreciate the ability to get online, to practice, to review links, to connect with classmates outside of class… I can’t imagine running a class without one.
Agree that setting up Moodle on your own can be a little tricky, but the investment is worth it. Even better if you have a LINC connection and can get the support of the pros at LIT2T.
You may be intersted in this older book about Moodle 1.9 for ESL that has some great hints:
Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching
Here’s an excerpt from the TOC:
Chapter 3: Vocabulary Activities
Activity 1: Setting up a class glossary
Activity 2: Using a Glossary to create a “word of the day” feature
Activity 3: Using comments in the Glossary module for students to comment on keywords
Activity 4: Using the rating facility to provide feedback on students’ definitions
Activity 5: Using tags to highlight vocabulary and link to example stories
Activity 6: Using polls to vote on the meaning of words
Activity 7: Using a chat session transcript to analyze vocabulary errors
Activity 8: Using a Personal Glossary to set up simple individual vocabulary lists
Activity 9: Creating a crossword in Hot Potatoes
Activity 10: Using a Database to set up categorized vocabulary lists
Activity 11: Creating a gap-fill using the Quiz module 141
Activity 12: Creating a text/text matching activity using the Quiz module
Hope it helps!
It looks interesting. Thanks!
I just learned that although I’m using Moodle 2.4, they’ve already upgraded to 2.8. I need to catch up!
Although Moodle is turning out to be a good fit for my situation, it is not the ideal solution for all organizations. It is important to do your research and testing before making the leap to Moodle or any Learning Management System.
I have tried Canvas.Instructure.com, which is a competing platform and the features are largely based on Moodle and other open source products. It is very intuitive and does not require any set up or installation. A free account is available to individual teachers to use it in creating and teaching courses. It has amazing features for managing courses/classes and monitoring progress through built in analytical tools for individual students or whole classes. It’s also handy that you can import export quizzes/courses to or from Moodle.
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