Matt Syles on Moodle

June 13, 2013, by Teaching at Nottingham

Matt Styles on Moodle

Matt Styles: “Ever thought that using wikis on Moodle could be beneficial to students’ learning? How about discussion forums to encourage flexible debate involving rich media and e-references? Should there be baseline material requirements or is that treating Moodle too much like a file store? Unfortunately, we don’t yet have the answers.

“The Students’ Union Education Network have embarked upon an extended research project with the Learner Engagement Team in IS to gain knowledge of what students find useful in Moodle, what’s not so beneficial to their learning, and if there were no barriers, how would they like to see Moodle used. In addition to this, the project aims to deliver insight into the true learning benefits of current practice – not only the fact that some particular activity may be useful, but why it is useful and to what extent it helps them learn as individuals in ways which weren’t possible under WebCT or other systems.

“Part of this is also about mapping current practice – Moodle has been in place across all campuses since September, but it’s not known what the uptake has been like, the baseline criteria students reasonably expect to be made available, and from academics’ point of view, whether baseline criteria would encourage more content to be made available and more activity or discourage exceeding what may be seen as “the minimum”.

“At the other end of the spectrum, the project aims to establish a ‘wish list’ for the Learner Engagement Team to take forwards as changes which can be made either to Moodle itself of the widespread use of the environment.

“What’s most interesting for the Education Network is students’ current use of the environment, how this relates to staff use, and where it may be possible to bridge the gap to ensure that staff aren’t focusing resources on areas which aren’t beneficial to learning experience, and students’ reasonable expectations are being met through using the VLE to its full potential.

“We’re all still in the unknown on how students’ expectations are affected by £9,000 fees, if at all, but one thing we do know is that each year our freshers are becoming more tech-savvy and growing up in an environment increasingly revolving around technology, and they will expect the same from their educational experiences. The research results from China and Malaysia may be of particular interest at the end of the project for similar reasons.

“Hopefully we can celebrate the amazing work that many teachers and support staff are implementing across the institution, as the project has incredible potential for sharing best practice both within Schools and Departments and also across the faculties and disciplines.”

Matt Styles
SU Education Officer

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