01. March 2011 · 2 comments · Categories: Moodle · Tags:
trophy 1 | the both and | shorts and longs | julie rybarczyk

trophy 1 | the both and | shorts and longs | julie rybarczyk CC (by)

Yesterday I blogged over on the Brightcookie.com blog about a consortium of universities who took the time to look at how their staff used Moodle and what Moodle 2.01 had to offer.  They decided, for a list of very rational, objective reasons that Moodle 2 needs a few more versions to come right and their favourite plug-ins need time to catch up. They aren’t going for the early adopters achieve on this one. I posted the link in various places and heard from some people who are bemoaning the fact that their institutions are pushing ahead with an upgrade to Moodle 2 without this sort of consultation and analysis and with no reported plans for training and support. This really shocked me. How are educators going to learn to do wonderful things with e-learning if they have to stumble around a new system? And what sorts of experiences are students going to have online with those reluctant, undertrained and unsupported educators? What impact is this going to have on the business? The business costs from software implemented without consultation and support can be measured in the lack of productivity, the volume of help desk requests, the loss of confidence people feel when they use unfamiliar systems — and in dollars going out the door from students who are unsatisfied with their learning experience and dropping out. I did this myself after a negative experience with online learning. So ICT coordinators/administrators out there: are concerns about being left behind technologically by a matter of months or trying to time things to the school calendar really worth the cost?

2 Comments

  1. I’ve been trying to figure out how to comment on this topic without it sounding like a rant.
    I worked in the private VET sector for 10 years before joining a gov. dept. (which shall remain nameless *ahem)
    I’ve worked there for 2 years now, and when I started there was a lack of readily available, up-to-date tech resources for teachers. I teach IT, so you can appreciate the irony.

    When I asked about setting up an independant online portal for my students (I used a basic forum at first, then a Joomla site, then finally settled on Moodle), my boss said ‘go for it’. I was lucky. I know now that many, many other teachers also run their own indepedant resources and are dragged through the coals for working outside the system.
    I asked my boss why resources weren’t already set up, why aren’t teachers having regular online chat sessions or providing resources electronically for students are are studying ‘flexibly’ (ie mixed delivery or online).
    He said (paraphrasing), “Barb, we’ve been trying to get this right for 15 years. Chat sessions don’t work, I set one up years ago and students would come in and start social conversations but as a teacher noone had questions or was interested in discussing work – they wanted to talk about last night’s soapie! We’ve gone through Blackboard, Moodle, Sharepoint and back to Moodle. The department has invested a lot of money in the latest ‘it’ technology. The one solution for all teachers. And it’s a load of b.s.”
    One of the main problems (imho) is that ICT coordinators/administrators don’t really exist. There are the “network guys” that have their heart set on maintaining the mighty firewall. They issue hardware to teachers, but there is little support (a quick poll of how many are still running IE6 and have no idea what that means gives a good indication of the level of support). At our campus the department that handles the Moodle training for teachers is run by self-confessed “self-taught Moodlers” whose advice to teachers is “join the forum and teach yourself”. I wish that was an exaggeration.

    You summarised the situation perfectly in your piece – educators are stumbling around with new technology (and have been doing so for over a decade); educators are reluctant, undertrained and unsupoorted (I don’t call ‘join the forum and look it up’ support).
    Online courses will continue to be started, and not developed to completion.
    Students will continue to be unsatisfied, disillusioned and drop out.
    The costs will be blamed on the previous government or mis-management or lack of funding… and then the cycle will begin again, with a lack of qualified and experienced IT-savvy or tech personnel employed in positions that should be leading the way for teachers to confidently take on board emerging technologies and resources.

    Returning to the private sector is looking REALLY appealing 😉

    • I couldn’t agree more. It doesn’t matter how many experts training teachers there are around, clicking all over the place on a screen, with few teachers being able to follow or repeat the process. Teachers need repetition & consolidation to take on the plethora of ever-changing IT. It’s better to learn 3 things well thatn 20 not at all.