The June 2005 issue of THE Journal contains an important article by Laura Turner entitled “20 Technology Skills Every Educator Should Have”. I believe every educator, and especially school librarians, should look at this list and consider how their own set of technology skills may have room for improvement.
There is one item on the list, however, that I feel was incomplete. Turner’s item number 13 is “Web CT or Blackboard Teaching Skills.” While I agree with her that teachers should be familiar with the use of online course management tools, I believe that by only mentioning the two most prominent commercial products of this type, she overlooked the most useful online course management tool of all, Moodle.
Moodle is a powerful, highly-scalable, open source, course management system. It competes feature-for-feature with any of the commercial CMS products. But, unlike those very expensive commercial products, Moodle is completely free.
When school opened this past week, I used Moodle as a part of the orientation and training for my new library media student aides. It was the perfect way to teach them about the course disclosure, the confidentiality agreement, their basic responsibilities and privileges, and the grading rubric I will be using. Rather than running off handouts and talking their ears off the first two days, I just had them log into a Moodle class I created called “Library Aides” and let them read through the materials and print what they wanted. In Moodle pretty much all I had to do was create the class, add the students, and upload the notes I would have given them anyway.
My Moodle site is called the InfoLit Learning Center. Over time, I hope to create Moodle courses in all aspects of Information Literacy. My teaching friend and colleague Mark Enomoto and I are also considering setting up a Moodle site at South Davis Junior High for our teachers to use. Our first impression is that Moodle is the perfect way for teachers to put lecture notes online for kids who miss a class. We are also excited about the possibility of using Moodle for remediation classes. Stay tuned.