Sunday, July 14, 2013

3 Categories of Moodle Wow Factors for the English Teacher who is new to Moodle

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I've had a flash of inspiration vis-a-vis Moodle Wow factors. Assume you were to give a demonstation of Moodle to an English Language teacher with no or limited current experience of using Moodle. Think about it. Which features, blocks, activities, or technology of Moodle would you show?. To my mind, there are 3 categories of Moodle Wow Factors when it comes to English language learning.
Each category contains a set of Moodle tools and/or activities. I, personally, would spend more time demo'ing the first Wow Factor category as it is the easiest to grasp and, quite possibly but subjectively, the easiest to get excited about.

'Student' Wow Factor Category.
These activities are familiar to the English teacher. They are online exercises where students who take them are graded. These activities mirror or are an online version of exercises given in class. 

Figure 1. MILAs on Matt Bury's website

An example are the various activities by Matt Bury at:

Figure 2. Dictation with colour-coded spelling cue/feedback

Specifically, the Listen and Write activity at (listen to this one when you need a good laugh)

Figure 3. So nice to listen to narration with great feeling and enounciation

and the Listed and Read activity at 

Figure 4. It's all almost Greek to me. International Phonetic Alphabet to the rescue!
and the International Phonetic Chart at

Figure 5. Don't we all love a treasure, I mean, word, hunt?

and the Word Search activity at
Note: some of the activities are free, others are licensed at a fee.

Figure 6. Language Lab chockfull of activities.
and Justin Hunt's PoodLL Virtual Language Lab

Figure 7. An ingenius way of instilling and inculcating the reading habit.

and the Moodle Reader. This is an interesting 'Rabbit Hole' to fall into!  It is a system where students take short online quizzes with random questions on books that they have read (or are supposed to have read) during the week. The Moodle Reader system works because in order to score high in a quiz, the student must first read the book! This ensures that the student reads the allotted number of books per semester.

II. "Teacher" Wow Factor category.

Figure 8. We've lost the art of scribbling. Might need a Watcom tablet or a Genius pen here.

The activities in this category are teacher aids. Mostly used by teachers, but for some, the student is also involved. The activities in this category are easily appreciated by a non-IT audience. Examples are Davo Smith's online PDF file marking and commenting system

Figure 9. Record and Youtube upload on-the-fly.

and the Youtube Anywhere tool which allows you to record a video in Moodle via  your webcam and immediately send that video to Youtube without leaving Moodle. Uber-cool!
Figure 10. Annotation by the teacher helps with grammar and spelling feedback.

Figure 11. A handy thesaurus.

and Nadav Kavalerchik's Thesaurus mouseover filter. Just to mention a few. There are so many others out there.

III. "Geek" Wow Factor category

In this category are the technical wow factors which are immediately appreciated by the technical person. Not that it cannot be appreciated by the English teacher or educator, but it is just that it may not hit home to the teacher immediately just why that  particular part of Moodle is so 'great'. In some cases, the "coolness" of the activity may fly over the heads of the non-IT audience. More abstract, harder to immediately appreciate, although in actual fact, a major winning formula for Moodle.

Figure 12. Is that Wordpress I see inside Moodle?

An example is Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI). LTI simple means integrating Moodle with an external tool or web service like Wordpress (blogs).

Figure 12. Moodle and Mahara.
Like two great inseparable great women  - Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan.

and Mahoodle,which is the marraige between Moodle (Learning Management System) with Mahara (Student-centred ePortfolio).

In conclusion, if I were to present the Wow Factors of Moodle, I'd begin by giving a demonstration (PowerPoint sldies to save time) beginning with activities, tools and features of the Student Wow Factor category, followed by the Teacher Wow Factor category. Lastly, I would give a larger perspective to the Moodle universe by highlighting Moodle's integration with other Web services.

So that's my insight for today. Hope you enjoyed it. feel free to comment or debate. I value your feedback.

Frankie Kam

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