Best practices: Increasing engagement with interactive modules

Moodle™ is a flexible and adaptable learning environment that gives you the ability to manage content, grades, and virtual collaboration. Default Moodle™ sites contain more than 20 different types of learning modules (resources and activities) with several options for participant-to-participant and participant-to-facilitator interaction. The application of each module in Moodle™ will vary depending on the objectives of your course, and needs of participants. Today I want to share with you how certain Moodle™ activities can promote user interaction, and turn your courses into a vibrant collaborative learning environment.

Advanced Forum

The Advanced Forum activity is an online message board that allows course participants to post messages and reply to each other asynchronously. Most facilitators use this activity as the primary tool for online discussion within courses since it is such a powerful communication tool. Forums allow you and your class participants to communicate and collaborate any time, from anywhere, Consider the following uses to help foster interaction within forum activities:

  • Consider presenting case studies, problem solving scenarios, hot topics, connections to real-life experience, participant-led moderation, or guest-led moderation.
  • Promotes authentic responses with Q&A forums. Because participants must respond to the question before viewing other participants' posts, you’re guaranteed an original reply.
  • Create forums to promote virtual debates.

Database

The Database activity is a tool for collaborative development of a database within a course. It allows facilitators and participants to build, display, and search for a bank of recorded entries about any conceivable topic. The format and structure of these entries can be almost unlimited, including, among other things, images, files, URLs, numbers, and text. Use Databases to create an environment for participants to manage projects, store data, collaborate, compare results, and share comments. Use the following strategies to foster collaboration in your course's databases:

  • Use databases to collect information and references for collaborative research projects in a course.
  • Encourage participants to use the comment functionality to promote the exchange of information regarding a particular entry.
  • Use databases as a resource of information for your course activities. Tell participants to browse through entries to find information they need to use in assignments or quizzes.

Wiki

A Wiki activity is a collection of collaboratively authored Web documents. Basically, a wiki page is a Web page everyone in your class can create together, right in the browser, without needing to know HTML. A wiki starts with one front page. Each author can then add other pages to the Wiki by simply creating a link to a page that doesn't exist yet. The entire class can edit a document together, creating a class product, or each participant can have their own wiki and work on it with you and their classmates. Use the following strategies to make your Wiki activities more interactive:

  • Wikis can act as a summarizing activity for an entire semester's worth of material. Rather than assigning individual assignments that tend to get graded and shuffled away, give participants the opportunity to keep everything in one convenient place.
  • Wikis are particularly helpful for group work because you can monitor who is contributing to the overall document by checking the history of the wiki. Contact absent participants to make sure the load is being equally shared amongst the group members.
  • Promote brainstorming sessions by creating a wiki for the entire class or wikis for smaller groups to which participants submit ideas around a particular topic. Participants can add ideas as they occur and link to others' pages for elaboration.

Glossary

The Glossary activity allows participants to create and maintain a list of definitions, like a dictionary. Glossaries are traditionally comprised of instructor-generated dictionary entries of unfamiliar or new terms in a course, but glossaries can be so much more! In Moodle™, glossaries can serve as a focal point for collaboration. Participants do the work by creating glossary entries of new terms and concepts or by researching questions and compiling answers. Use the following strategies to promote the use of glossaries in your courses:

  • Create collaborative glossaries by asking each member of the class to contribute to it with a term, definition, or comments on submitted definitions. When participants are responsible for creating the definitions, they are much more likely to remember the word and its correct meaning.
  • Break glossaries up by unit, chapter, week, or any other organizational structure. If you have a large class, assign groups to come up with definitions and answers.

Workshop

The Workshop activity provides a process for participants receiving instructor, peer, and even self-evaluative feedback on open-ended assignments, such as essays, projects, and research papers. With this activity, participants create their own projects and then assess the work produced by their peers. It also coordinates the collection and distribution of these assessments in a variety of ways. A typical Workshop is not a short-term activity and it takes up to several days or even weeks to complete. The Workshop workflow can be divided into five phases. The facilitator controls which phase the workshop activity is in at any time. Use the following strategies to implement interactive Workshop activities in your course:

  • Create example submissions and reference assessments in order to model your expectations for participants. They can assess these examples and compare their assessment with the reference example.
  • Make an announcement in the News forum to let participants know the Workshop activity is in a new phase.
  • Publish top scoring assignments so that all participants can review them. Motivate your participants by letting them know that the top scoring assignments will be made available to the class.

To learn more strategies for using interactive modules in Moodle™, register to take our Foundations of Moodle™ Course Facilitation online course today!

Best,

~Laura Lea

Carl

Carl

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