Tag Archives: Staff development

And then there were 14! #moodletoolguide

Well this is an exciting week for the Moodle Tool Guide. We have two new translations!


First of all there is the Czech translation of the Moodle 2 version that Gavin Henrick created a few months ago. This version was created by Bohumil Havel & Jan Trávnícek at Moodle Partner PragoData Consulting.



And then there was this little gem which came to me from Oman. This was a collaboration between the lovely Andrea Hall  whom I met in Musqat during my visit in September 2011, and Salim AlWaaili, both of the Sultan Qaboos University. This is a translation of the original one-page Moodle 1.9 poster.

I’m trying to collect all of the versions on this Moodle Tool Guide blog page, so you can find the other translations & adaptations there. If you know of a version that’s missing, then please let me know.


Thank you! Děkuji! Shokran!

Most of all, a big thank you to the translators on behalf of the Moodle community! Awesome work & sharing!

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Staff development: reciprocal link between feedback and encouragement

After helping organise a staff development day about 21st C Learning (more about that later), I find myself musing on the link between feedback and encouragement as reciprocal actions.

This was a day with mixed ability and experience staff, all encouraged to take the next step up on their education technology skills ladder. They did this in groups, led by a colleague who is more experienced.

Usually what happens with these ‘traditional-style’ staff development sessions is that a survey is sent the next week to staff (the ‘happy sheets‘). Did you find this useful? That’s interesting but not as interesting as Continue reading

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Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers

A few weeks ago, a Social Media Cheat Sheet was doing the round. A nice visualization of the pro’s & cons of each social media channel, but with a business/marketing focus. I thought I should do one for social media use in education. However for most of the teachers I work with, our Moodle (EIT Online) is still their primary online teaching environment. So instead I set out to create this poster size guide for teachers, allowing them to compare the functionality and pedagogical advantages of some standard Moodle tools, adding a column to indicate how tricky the tool is to set up.

Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers (icon)

Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers

Hope you find it useful. Would appreciate your feedback.

Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers (PDF)

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Gateway Tools for Teachers

This is a post about teaching teachers tools. I know, I know, of course the adoption of educational technology should be driven by possible enhancements in teaching & learning, not by the ‘shininess’ of new tools. But in my experience, there is a group of teachers for who certain tools can work like a gateway drug:  e-learning gateway tools.

If you are a technology integrator, e-learning trainer, ed tech staff developer, pay attention:  introducing these gateway tools can give you some ‘easy wins’ – even better, these teachers can become your most ardent e-learning champions.

Not everyone’s a geek

For those of us who consider ourselves ‘connected’, trialling a new tool or technology comes as natural as breathing. Here are just 2 likely scenarios:

  1. We know the learning activity we want to create. We find one or several tools that will facilitate that activity. These are tools we already know, or discover through our PLN. We test them and pick the one best suited to achieve our learning need.
  2. We encounter a tool, again probably through our PLN, and consider how it can be used in a learning activity. We then either create the activity or store it for future reference.

This week several colleagues and Kim Cofino’s Tips for Technology Integrators post reminded me off the realism of our workplace. Newsflash: not everyone’s a geek like us.

About 65% of of my role as e-learning advisor is e-learning staff development (including pedagogy, Moodle training, instructional design, really everything but the kitchen sink).  Very rarely do I get to work with the innovators & early adopters – those who will play, experiment, tinker, and make tools do cartwheels to see how they can be used for teaching & learning . I chat to them over morning coffee (and via Twitter, Facebook and their blogs), but they don’t need my support. I tend to work with academic staff, managers and allied staff,  in the early & late majority.

A graph of Everett Rogers Technology Adoption Lifecycle model. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.

A graph of Everett Rogers Technology Adoption Lifecycle model. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.

The Understandably Cynical

In my experience, there is a subset of teachers in that early/late majority category, that we can call the Understandably Cynical.

  1. They are committed to their students’ learning experience,
  2. They are satisfied with their current teaching approach but do experiment with new techniques,
  3. Their computer & digital literacy is low to medium,
  4. The addition of technology in their daily work mix , eg email, has not made their work easier or faster,
  5. Their time is precious, split between teaching, research and a life,
  6. They perceive time spent online establishing social networks or  ‘playing’ with new tools, as wasted,
  7. They don’t want to burden students with new tools unnecessarily,
  8. They appreciate their privacy.

In short, they are great teachers, whatever they are doing is already working, they’re open to new ideas, they’re busy and past experiences with technology have been a hindrance, not a benefit to them.  They are Understandably Cynical.

For this group of teachers, I’ve found that providing them with gateway tools can start them adding the use of technology to their teaching arsenal.

What are gateway tools?

Gateway tools are like gateway drugs – they open the door to the serious stuff.

Characteristics of an e-learning gateway tool:

  1. Solves a problem (eg size or access)
  2. Builds on existing collections
  3. Saves time
  4. Is easy to use
  5. Is immediately useful in the classroom
  6. Has passive social functionality
  7. Can be the start of a teacher’s PLN – although the previous characteristics may fire a teacher’s engine, this is the turbo boost.

Examples of gateway tools

Here are two examples of gateway tools, Slideshare & Delicious.


1. Solves a problem – makes PowerPoint files smaller and easily accessible from anywhere, freeing a teacher from the localised shared drive.

2. Builds on existing collections – you can use PowerPoints files you already have.

3. Saves time – a search on Slideshare can provide you with inspiration for your own lecture or lesson, or even provide you with a complete lesson structure.

4. Is easy to use – to make use of Slideshare resources, takes no more than simple search skills. Uploading your own resources is akin to attaching a file to an email.

5. Is immediately useful in the classroom – once a presentation is uploaded, it can be accessed in the classroom during the lesson and remains available for access & download for students later.

6. Has passive social functionality – unlike some other Web2.0/social media tools, Slideshare does not require you to be socially active,  invest in building a network or give out too much personal information, for it to be useful.

7. Can be the start of a teacher’s PLN – although Slideshare does not require social activity, it will expose teachers to other teachers/experts who share their interest. Those friend requests can be hard to deny…


1. Solves a problem (eg size or access) – many people still save their bookmarks in the browser on their computer. This means when you leave your desk to go teach in a classroom, you don’t have access to those bookmarks. Storing bookmarks online lets you use them wherever you have internet access.

2. Builds on existing collections – it’s easy to import your existing bookmarks into delicious.
3. Saves time – using delicious & it’s useful tags & description function, can really speed up how fast you can refind ‘that one’ site. No more roaming through endless folders. Install the delicious buttons and bookmark new sites with one click.

4. Is easy to use – as stated, the delicious buttons turn it into a 1-click system. And to make use of other people’s bookmarks, takes no more than simple search skills.

5. Is immediately useful in the classroom – you now have all your bookmarks in not just one classroom, but in every room you teach in. And that makes you a lot more flexible. A student asks a question? Mmm, I’m sure I bookmarked a site that had an interesting take on that…

6. Has passive social functionality – like Slideshare, Delicious does not require you to be socially active, invest in building a network or give out too much personal information, for it to be useful. You can’t even upload a profile picture.

7. Can be the start of a teacher’s PLN – again, although Delicious does not require social activity, you can’t help but run into useful resources shared by its many users. And once you find a user who shares links about your interests, you may want to find out what else they are sharing, on their blog, on Twitter, or elsewhere…

I’ve had moderate success introducing teachers to the tools above. If you have had success introducing teachers or colleagues to other e-learning gateway tools, I’d love to hear about it.

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Visualisation – Exploratree & Periodic Table of Visualisation Methods

As an instructional designer some days you are more creative than others. I’m afraid that after a day of project planning or strategic meetings, teachers who meet with me about their online or blended course design run a particular risk of getting short-changed.

Coffee helps, but what you really want is a menu – a range of options to get you started. I’ve found that Exploratree and the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods are two inspirational sites which can help me break through ‘designer’s block’. Each provides a list of visualisation methods, which can provide the basis for a learning activity at any cognitive level from remembering through creating.

The Periodic Table created by Ralph Lengler and Martin Eppler, is a listing of 100 methods, including methods like the Cycle Diagram, the Evocative Knowledge Map or Mintzberg Organigraph (and that’s not the only one I’ve never heard of). On hovering over the method, an example appears in a pop-up. Chris Wallace has created an accompanying page which links each method to its Wikipedia page and a stand-alone version of its example.

Exploratree goes a little further. Although you can certainly use the ‘thinking guides’ just to spark ideas, with a free account educators and/or students can create, edit and save the thinking guides online. Users can share guides and so collaborate on projects.

The two sites above contain many methods that can help a teacher and students explore, critically examine, fully map or actively discuss almost any topic. And provide a kick-start for an instructional designer with designer’s block. Usually once I’ve created the first activity, it’s all downhill from there.

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Sending thank-you notes & hidden VPD

One my objectives for 2008 is to provide the conditions for a community of practice around e-learning to grow on our campus. We have many excellent examples of e-learning in the classroom and online, but so far haven’t really had a platform for sharing that knowledge & experience.

First things first, obviously sharing “knowledge, methods, stories, cases, tools, documents” as described by Wenger is impossible if staff members don’t even know about each other’s existence. So we’ve set about establishing the needed connections. Monthly e-Learning Lunches began in the middle of 2007 and have a growing and loyal attendance (yay!). I’m also trying to introduce practitioners to each other just-in-time. Recently I invited one of our Business & Computing lecturers, to demonstrate her online course to a group of lecturers who are just making the first steps in putting their courses online. I say demonstrate, but what I really wanted was for her to show off, because she & her colleague really challenged themselves, always focusing on keeping the course flexible, project-based and learner-centred. The course looks great, and the demonstration was much appreciated by the lecturers.

Unfortunately, I got so busy that shock, horror, I forgot to thank Kim properly. About to send her a thank-you note, I reconsidered, a. it’s kinda lo-tech and b. doesn’t match my tactics this year. I’ve been getting excited about the concept of viral professional development as described by Jennifer Jones (aka injenuity) as I see VPD as a factor in the creation & maintenance of our community of practice. So starting today instead of notes, e-cards or chocolate fish (very popular in New Zealand) to say thank you, I will instead undertake a little hidden VPD and share a cool tool, neat resource or activity idea that I know matches what they are working on.

Here’s my thank-you for Kim, created in Sketchcast explaining my limited understanding of the concept of a critical path. (Note: a little glitch, I could only get Sketchcast to record audio in Internet Explorer, not Firefox.)

[kml_flashembed movie="http://sketchcast.com/swf/player.swf?id=nqu1K2g" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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