NSP Instructors are making plans for new ways of teaching, considering the pandemic. The uncertainties brought by Coronavirus/COVID19 concerns are worrying NSP educational programs. At every level, NSP Instructors are brainstorming ways to prepare for teaching students looking to take courses this season.
Worry no more, Moodle, the preeminent university level “Learning Management System” (LMS) has gone to the cloud with MOODLECLOUD.COM. Their primary goal is serving any teacher in the world interested in moving their courses online, offering an intuitive, easy to manage, feature-rich high-level LMS.
Moodle has distinguished itself as a 20-year-old LMS used by Universities around the world. It would have stayed locked behind university IT department doors if it were not for the emergence of “cloud computing.” As a game-changer, cloud-based apps have democratized online learning by simplifying teacher’s abilities to create their “own” online cloud-based schools. Moodle gives you full operating capabilities limited to 50 students (and assisting instructors) for about $50 per year (Moodle is based in Australia, the currency exchange rate my fluctuate). Build your courses for free for 45-days before deciding if Moodle works for your Patrol’s needs.
However, work it does. We have Ski Patrols managing full online OEC courses on MoodleCloud. The most significant benefit of setting up courses in an LMS is that they are easy to change, iterate, or redesign. Once they are built, next season’s courses go off with ease. Once a course is repeated, the Instructors can relax and focus their attention on student learning. Gone is every year planning because the lessons are ready, the automation built into Moodle runs the course, cutting out the tedium of managing students and their grades. The only thing left is teaching.
Eastern Division has several NSP Disciplines that have moved their courses to Moodle School. Avalanche teaches much of their didactic classroom curriculum for Level One courses using Moodle Online. MTR and Instructor Development are moving students to Moodle Online. Even OET has joined the Division’s Moodle School. Trainer-Evaluator candidates complete summertime instructor training courses using the division’s Moodle Online School.
Let’s take a tour of the online teaching features. Since Moodle is an Online LMS, it structures a set of learning tasks for students that appears on the course page by scrolling from top to bottom. Courses begin with an introduction and objectives. Students can self-pace through the topics of the course, or the learning can be scheduled several chapters weekly as an OEC class might require.
Either way, Weekly Schedule or topic-to-topic, each element is made up of Lessons or Assignments. Lessons run entirely Online in the course and follow an NSP Six-Pack Template. They often end with an assessment, such as a mini quiz graded automatically. Assignments are done by students researching outside of Moodle, possibly outside of the internet. Assignments are uploaded once completed for teacher grading. Common assignments might be to shoot a video of your Patient Assessment every week and upload it for teacher feedback.
Teachers can integrate several different methods of scheduled communications with their students. Chat Sessions can be set up for all students to attend a 40-minute moderated chat discussion. This brings all the students in at the same time. Forum Discussions designed to spark abstract student thinking, similar to chat, are an asynchronous way of discussing. Students get more time to think about their responses, then type them into the forum at their own leisure.
And of course, Moodle had it long before Zoom – The Big Blue Button is a video and whiteboard conferencing bridge that students click inside the course on the required date and time. Teachers can use this as an old-fashioned lecture or moderate an in-person discussion. For example, patient assessment practicals can be demonstrated using the video conferencing tool. Or traditional lectures can be displaying power-point slides and video.
Workshops are another powerful Moodle tool. These are assignments that involve the entire class or groups within the class, which include peer-review. Workshops work well for Instructor Continuing Ed courses where an element of the student’s grade comes from evaluating their ability to provide “positive immediate feedback” – its a hallmark of good NSP Instructing skills, used in Con Ed courses.
Built into Moodle automation is attendance tracking if IOR’s set that as a criterion for grading. The best part of LMS automation is a powerful quiz feature that not only grades students, but it offers instant feedback for missed answers.
The Quiz Tool that Moodle developed is feature-rich. Design your quizzes with traditional text answers, multiple-choice, or try picture-based answers to stimulate a different part of the student’s brain. Multiple choice can be expanded to using “drag and drop” answering, which stimulate a more kinesthetic section of the student’s brain. Instructors who like the traditional quiz tools can still call upon true/false and short answers. Automation is available for grading all of these, except “essay questions.” For teachers who believe in essays, remember you need to grade these yourself manually.
Moodle offers the richest, most versatile, automation-based grading functionalities in the LMS education industry. They are designed to help teachers build sophisticated, university class courses that once created, offer repeatability that shifts teaching efforts from course management to a focus on enhancing student learning. Instead of managing the course, its materials, resources, assisting instructors, and a herd of unorganized students — IOR’s can return to teaching. Teaching is why we became NSP Instructors in the first place!
Moodle courses are not meant to be a way of dealing with COVID19. Instead, Moodle Courses are for the teachers and Patrols who believe that today’s distance learning paradigm, can be leveraged to make all future OEC (or other NSP) Courses into a dream to operate. The investment comes from building courses in Moodle, and the paybacks are the upcoming years of easy teaching.
Take advantage of how easy technology has become with today’s cloud-based benefits. Tap into your unconventional creativity to drive new lesson developments. Experiment with the features Moodle offers. Most are intuitive, but help is available for NSP Instructors already committed to moving a portion of their teaching activities to “Online.” The NSP Moodle Users Group can be contacted by email:
Give it a try, Moodle with a little “support” can unlock course creativity and augment traditional learning. Online is here, it’s easy, and every NSP Instructor can try it for 45-days. Watch Patroller School News for Moodle Q&A Webinars during the summer months, use the QR Code, or type “Bit.LY/moodle-series” into a browser URL bar.
—Orest Ohar is an NSP Instructor Trainer for Instructor Development and OET. He also sits on the Eastern Division Instructor Development oversight committee guiding the ID Program. His mission is to help bridge teaching with intuitive technological solutions such as Eastern Division’s Moodle School.