27 January 2013

The 3 correct steps to designing moodle courses

The 3 correct steps to designing Moodle courses

"Moodle is wonderful" - True!
"Moodle is easy" - False. 
Moodle is a lot like the 4WDs used as family car. Both have features that are never used and are far too complex for the average user to be bothered with. Both the family SUV and Moodle pretty easy to drive when you get the hang of it, but if you want to really take charge, then you will have to understand what the machine is, and importantly, what it is not. 

Often teachers dive in head first and start posting their handouts grouped in a weekly basis just like they would have done in the classroom. This is fine, but it creates for a "paper-under-glass" type outcome. At the end of the day, they are still electronic handouts. Most importantly, if your class was already pretty boring to start off with, it's infinitely more boring on-line because there is no direct human interaction on-line. 

If you really want to get the most out of Moodle, you should probably follow these steps: 

STEP 1: Articulate your  philosophy on teaching 
Most teachers have not really thought about this in great detail.  Indeed, the vast majority of lecturers would rather do anything else but think about the philosophy of teaching. Are you constructivist? (I'm not really 100% sold on constructivism!) Are you "teaching the kids for a job" or for some ideal of a "liberal educated citizen"? (As an accountant  I teach primarily for the profession, and education second). Do you believe there is "more than one answer" in this world, or should we get to the "accurate" "truth"?

STEP 2: Articulate what you are trying to do. 
If you hear yourself saying "I just want to give them handouts" you are already talking about what YOU do as the teacher, and not what THEY should be doing with those handouts.  

A better way of phrasing this might be "I want the students to discuss the implications of this case." So now you are clear they must first HAVE the case, then what they will do with it, and hopefully, what they will get out of it. "WHY" you want them to discuss it (rather than just accept your answers you give them in the lecture) is something you have already stated in step 1. 

STEP 3: Try and implement in Moodle.
Now you are armed with the clear intent that help you find the right tool for the right job. Suddenly all of those options make sense. 

"But I just wanted to mess about
with my transmission some"

Ok: well, know what you are doing first.
But the problem is...
Most educators will simply start at step 3. Only when they are digging through the dizzying array of options in Moodle are they suddenly forced to ask themselves "just what the hell am I doing here?!"

After a while, they encounter student problems. Student's either don't get it, or they are struggle to find something you posted earlier. You are then forced to say WHY you did something as you did. By this stage, too many of us scratch our heads and state "well I don't know" or "I hadn't thought of that"

This isn't a fool-proof guide to never having problems with Moodle - you WILL have problems, but it is a start. Indeed, having "just a few issues" with your Moodle course means you are trying new things, and "new things" is a very good for teachers to be practising in their practice. 

-Tetracarbon out

25 January 2013

Consumerism and education: You bought something different

Students: If you think you are owed grades
as a paying customers, you should see if the
ACCC will protect your consumer rights. 
A student recently had a rant on Facebook about how the IELTS test OWED him better marks,  because "without the Chinese and the Indians, the whole IELTS system" and hence Australia would just suddenly fall apart.  I can't quote the student too closely here because he would loose face.

That's a shame because I really liked the student. I understand frustration with difficult tests, but there isn't a system of entitlement here. Not everyone makes the cut. Fact of life.

I thought I would give him some encouragement, but set him right a little too.


Dear student:

This organisation owes you nothing
I think you have a bright future and I will always be on your side to encourage you, but I believe that nobody buys their marks in anything that is worth having. You can buy D&G, you can buy YSL. You can't buy good grades. Not for language tests, not for any school that is worth going to.

If you feel you are a consumer and you have rights, I probably should remind you otherwise. The student as a consumer is at best only half way correct. When it comes to education, we buy ourselves opportunities with our wallets. But if we are to achieve a bright future, we must pay in effort and skill.

I think you can do it. But you, nor I, nor anyone, has a right to it. I hope you can see the difference.

Good luck!


-Tetracarbon out. 

Note: Images added for this blog only. 

16 January 2013

Instafail: Instagram lies to your face when trying to apologise.

Dear Instagram. 

I got a funny email from you today. I notice you mention, "Our community has grown by many millions of people since we wrote our original Terms of Service and Privacy Policy."

What drugs do you guys smoke when you go to work?


Former daily user @tetracarbon 


from: Instagram <no-reply@instagram.com> via amazonses.com 
to: phillipjustinwong(AT)gmail.com
date: Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 9:14 AM
subject: Instagram Update
mailed-by: amazonses.com
: Important mainly because of the people in the conversation.

Our community has grown by many millions of people since we wrote our original Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. As we announced in December, we have updated our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. These policies also now take into account the feedback we received from the Instagram Community. We're emailing you to remind you that, as we announced last month, these updated policies will be in effect as of January 19th, 2013.
You can read our blog post that highlights some of the key updates. And remember, these updates don't change the fact that you own your photos that you post on Instagram, and our privacy controls work just as they did before.
Thank you,
The Instagram Team