I have begun to use Moodle in my courses both as a content delivery tool and to foster more interaction amongst students and between faculty and students. I notice that I use different features depending on if I am teaching our large intro course or my smaller inorganic courses. I would love to hear how different folks are using tools like Moodle in interesting ways in their courses. Last spring, I tried a few assignments where I had students create a wiki. And this fall, in our large intro course, we set up a Database to collect lab results from all the different lab sections. I've got some ideas for how to improve it this year, but I would also like to try some other new uses of tools in the Moodle. How do you use wikis, forums, and other interactive features in your course management system?
By the way, visit our poll and tell us which course managment tool you are using.
I tried to use a blog/discussion board feature on Sakai last Spring for a senior level discussion course to try to move some of the discussion/prep for class online. It really didn't work. Need carrots or sticks or both. The students weren't engaged in the blog. It was very open ended. When I posted more guiding questions, responses improved a little. Some students *really* resisted using the blog, and weren't shy about telling me so.
For my analytical laboratory, students need to share data and procedures for monitoring ions in the fishtank. We use a group file sharing area so that all have access to the information they need.
Mostly, I use Sakai as a content delivery tool for supplemental materials (readings, example problems) and an archive for problem sets and keys. I don't do nearly as many handouts as I used to. Saving trees.
I really like Moodle and use it for a lot of different things in my class. As an ice breaker, I set up a forum and ask the students to interview a prof about the difference between organic and inorganic chemistry (because most of the students are coming out of a full year of organic). My faculty colleagues are very cooperative and come up with a wide range of both serious and humorous answers. The students post the answers to the forum and we spend a couple minutes discussing and laughing about them in class.
I ask the students to write a short chemistry autobiography, which they upload to Moodle. I grade it and give then feedback all electronically, which is nice.
I post links to useful web sites (The Orbitron!), including links to papers we're using for literature discussions.
I put all of their grades up on Moodle, so they always know where they stand. I used to have "invent" an assignment in order to post their test grades, but I think the advanced grading module has made that easier.
I used the wiki function to have students prepare a class study guide for the final exam.
I have also used the photo gallery for putting up pictures of class activities, but that seems to have disappeared from our current installation of Moodle.
All in all, I found learning to use Moodle to be very straightforward, and we have good support on campus when I have questions.
I've used moodle in the past couple of years for online office hours (in addition to the usual posting of websites, assignments, solutions, etc). Last year for gen chem I had a standing "Monday 9-10 pm" chat session. Attendance was not consistent (between 0-5 people out of a class of 60-80), so this spring I changed it to an "as needed" basis. What that has turned out to mean is that I do an office hour one or two nights before each midterm. When the chat is held the night before a midterm, I've had as many as twenty people log in at once. It gets busy, and they do answer each other's questions, which is very helpful.
This spring I've also used it the night before a Monday inorganic exam, especially because the students in that class tend to live all over the city. Good attendance, and those who couldn't "make it" can always read the transcript after the fact.
Education research has shown that students do more of the talking in an online format vs face-to-face. Women are more likely to contribute, too. I've really liked that I can carefully think about how I'm phrasing the questions I ask students in response to their questions. I can take the time to guide them through a problem, sometimes better than I can in person.
Hooray for moodle!
While browsing through the "Moodle Museum" today, I came across an interesting idea for how to use the Glossary tool in Moodle. Glossary items can contain text and/or images, and they can be created by faculty and/or students in the course.
It would be interesting to have an assignment where the students in the class collectively create a Glossary. For example, they could create a Glossary of the elements or some subset of elements (say, the Lanthanides) where they enter in specific facts or bits of descriptive chemistry for an element. Or they could create a Glossary of characterization techniques used in Inorganic Chemistry or one of its subfields. Or new and unfamiliar terms in Organometallic Chemistry...or any number of ideas.
The other interesting idea is that if you pull in Glossary as one of the side blocks on your course front page, then it randomly displays an item from the Glossary (although not the image if there is an image as part of the item). So, it is a nice way of highlighting the class Glossary.
I would love to hear how this works if someone tries it or has tried it before. Please post!
In reply to Chime plugins by Lori Watson / Earlham College
Lori, yes! There is a Jmol 3-D molecule viewer resource for Moodle that needs to be "enabled" or loaded by your campus "moodle czar." Once it is part of your Moodle, when you edit a course page, you can choose to "Add a resource..." and choose "Display a 3-D molecule viewer." The input file is a pdb file. I have a separate block with "Cool structures" that lists all the Jmol structures that I have uploaded for students to look at. Some of the molecules I used to create a Point Group Jeopardy game on Moodle that we played in conference. Others, I used for problem set questions where the students had to assign the point groups. They all liked the fact that they could "control" the view themselves. I also loaded the structure of K2[V(enterobactin)] to use in class when we talked about siderophores, chelation, and assigning delta and lambda names to optical isomers.
I would be happy to share pdb files of some classic and novel molecules if you get this up and running on your Moodle!