People in the course have been split in smaller groups. I am together with about 5 others in Group A and we have started to experiment with the wiki version you can find in Moodle. Susan Burg (Florence) suggested a digital role-play story so we are interacting in a small group in the wiki environment. It’s interesting to be able to edit and add, but I find the wiki formatting inconsistent. In one environment we had certain rules, in the other, different ones. This is very time consuming and will certainly disorient newbies and students. I tried to use bold letters everytime I edited something but did not manage completely because the code changes into something else if we skip a line or inadvertedly use an exclamation mark. It would also be interesting if we could edit in different colours so that we could track who did what. Anyhow, I do not think this is the purpose of a real wiki.
Moodle has lots of different possibilities but the collaboration relies mostly on forums and this is where most people interact. Having a large number of forums, however, is confusing and unless we choose the email notification feature in each (which means flooding your inbox if people post a lot), we must chase the latest messages by clicking everywhere (not very practical if you are on a dial-up connection). Not many people are patient enough or have the time to do so, so we find messages scattered everywhere with not much connection or interaction.
There are many other features to Moodle I have checked, but again, only with moderator rights. The journal, for instance, can only be viewed by the student who posted it and commented on by the moderator and not the whole community. So it is a private asynchronous dialogue between student and teacher.
The glossary is a nice feature, as it allows you to post definitions, links and you may choose the option to highlight the word in all the posts.
As a student you have a very limited range of action, while as a moderator you can do more (I believe there are different levels of moderation). I feel students should be given the opportunity to produce and suggest content and have some freedom to modify their environment according to their needs. There is an interesting post in Kairosnews I read the other day on this subject: My Brilliant Failure: Wikis In Classrooms
It’s difficult for me to visualize the structure of this course as it is. I do not know whether it is because there is none, and Karen’s idea was to adapt and shape it according to our expectations(which may eventually be an interesting experiment) or it is just plain muddled. Other participants seem to have the same feeling from what I have read in the forums. People are just running around like mad hares, without knowing what to do and where to post. I wonder what point Karen is trying to make or where she is heading. I have the impression that while she is more worried about how the philosophy of liberation can be implemented through online environements, the participating teachers are after “the fast and neat, no frills and down to earth” solution for their classrooms as Renata Suzuki (Japan) puts it.
Meeting Karen for a YM chat later today, so we’ll discuss it. It would be interesting if she posted her impressions as well, how she sees things from her perspective. For the time being she’s just responding to our ideas. Well, I must say there is more dialogue, interaction and learning happening in the YM chat than in the Moodle cold shell…which scores a point for informal education based on dialogue. 🙂
Mercedes Rossetti has posted an interesting ressource on Content Design. I’d like to see how to start a course in Moodle from scratch. I wonder whether my secondary school students would find their way in this environment.