Thursday, February 21, 2008

Muddled Moodle Mentoring

Over the last few weeks I've been working with a small group of TAFE SA Financial Services Lecturers who are keen to develop better learning experiences for some of their 1000 external/off-campus students using Moodle.

Although we are only 1/3rd of the way through the training and these staff have learnt a lot about Moodle, what's been more interesting to me has been the amount of learning which I have experienced.

What I have realised is that all of my previous face to face and online training development has been based around a set curriculum or around Training Package guidelines.

I have run 'one-off' Moodle training sessions before, but I have never developed a 'Moodle Training Course' before.
So I developed a Moodle Mentored Learning program for these staff from scratch, from my own experiences, without any set guidelines - and this is where my learning journey begins.

This opportunity to mentor these staff has come at a perfect moment in time for me, as I'm also in the process on developing a self-paced Online Mentored Moodle Course for TAFE SA staff.

Previously I've developed 1-2 page 'How to' Word documents for the 'one-off' Moodle training sessions. However, having the need to create additional resources for the self-paced Online Mentored Moodle Course, as well as for the face to face Moodle mentoring staff, I thought I would try 'killing 2 birds with one stone', and asked the Financial Services staff to use the self-paced Online Mentored Moodle Course resources.

I'm so glad that I have gone down this path, as it has:
- made me ensure that I develop the resources for each f2f session in the self-paced Online Mentored Moodle Course - so now this Course is starting to take shape.
- allowed the Financial Services Staff to experience what it is like to be a student using Moodle
- allowed the Financial Services Staff to be 'guinea-pigs' and 'test-drive' the self-paced Online Mentored Moodle Course before anyone signs up for it in the 'self-paced' mode.
This experience has clearly highlighted where any gaps are, and where I need to include more information to the self-paced Online Mentored Moodle Course, if people are to really get some worthwhile learning experiences, which they will be able to utilise to develop their own Moodle Course.
So what I have learnt about myself during the early stages of this 'test drive' mode is:
- that I am happy to 'design on the go'
- that I'm able to conceptualise a 'Mud-Map' design in my head when developing online learning environments
- that I'm happy to 'develop on the go', and then sit back, review, evaluate and change, and then link everything together
- that I'm a lot more productive developing than actually planning ie I'd rather be 'doing' than 'thinking' about doing

However, I've also learnt more about how other people function in developing an online environment:
- that some people need to see lots of Moodle Course examples so they can contextualise what's possible before than can design their own Moodle environment
- that simply giving people the 'how to' information of adding a link/file, creating a web page etc doesn't really have much of an impact, as they do not have anything to 'connect' their learning to, and therefore can not transfer this information into developing/ producing/ creating their own Moodle learning environment
- that some people function better by 'nutting out' a design of their online learning environment, before they can actually start creating it

Now I need to figure out why I function so differently when developing/creating in an online environment in Moodle. Is this because:
- I have had a couple of years experience working with Moodle?
- I can contextualise information internally?
- I am a risk learner?
- I am able to 'change' and 'reshape' my thoughts and ideas quickly?

What type of online learning environment developer are you:
- a design and develop on the go kinda person? or
- a design then develop kinda person?
and does it really matter which way you start - so long as the final product provides an improved learning experience for the users?


minh said...

either, both -
context, circumstances

and who

enter the process
and see
but the better planned you are the easier it is to drop it all & join in the learning

Sue Waters said...

What I've found is there is a long time between people learning how to use a tool and being about to use it effectively in an education context. Trouble is regardless of how many examples you give them -- they tend to be so focus on learning to use the tool that they can't focus on how to use.

Think about when you learnt to drive a car - you focused on each little detail way too much - often totally unimportant things like checking the mirror too much and lost sight of driving in a straight line or not hitting the pedestrians.

We have unrealistic expectations for someone to learn how to use the tool and then implement it within a short period of time. We need to start thinking in longer time frames of their own personal development - years not weeks. And perhaps the better solution is people with the expertise set it up for them and then they learn how to effectively use it. During this process we gradually up skill them.

Sue Waters
Mobile Technology in TAFE

theother66 (formally MadMiller) said...

Thanks Minh and Sue for your comments

Better planning and having the online environment set up by someone with the 'expertise' are great suggestions, but at the moment there is a real need within TAFE SA to adopt a flexible approach to training, but there are no funds or enough 'experts' to aid this process.

What TAFE SA Teaching & Learning (Adelaide North) are doing more this year is to work with individual program areas, in a mentoring role, to help them develop their e-learning skills. We have moved away from so many 'one-off' workshops. We hope to 'speed up' the transition from learning to outcomes - as it's these outcomes or examples which allow us to attract the $$ and support we need to continue to support our staff.

Sue - I really like your learning how to drive analogy - and will keep this in mind when I'm working with staff. I'm hoping the mentoring approach will allow the learners (our staff) to regularly practice their skills so they can look past the tools and see where the advantages of using online learning begins.