Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Moodle in Networked Learning Communities

[warning: acronym-heavy post]
At the moment most of my LEA work in using Moodle is the use of it to support Network(ed) Learning Communities (NLCs). Put simply, NLCs are groups of schools learning together with a research focus, such as Raising Standards in ICT, or Using Assessment for Learning in Primary Mathematics. In Buckinghamshire we have a number of NLCs through the Buckinghamshire Academy of School Leadership (BASL) - a local project with the NCSL (enough acronyms yet? That one's the National College for School Leadership).
There's lots of research about what makes an effective NLC, but an important component is the online element. The NCSL's Learning Gateway (which used to be powered by a modified version of Oracle's Think.com) runs a little of everything - Fronter is the main method of accessing things but to my mind has some of the most counter-intuitive user interface elements since another VLE aimed at schools I once evaluated in another LEA. One of the best elements of the Think.com system (which would be great to see included in Moodle) was the brainstorm - as used in the NCSL system it allowed anonymous ideas to be created in a grid of virtual post-it style notes - these were coloured according to how recent the idea had been posted. It was a really useful tool for a group to come up with silly / sensible / outrageous / visionary ideas on a subject, and would be a useful tool in the Moodle toolkit.
Well, at the moment we're using Moodle in a number of mainly primary school-focused NLCs - the ability to have single-sign on should make things a lot more straightforward for Heads and those others involved in the NLCs to get involved and stay involved, as long as the online component is a fundamental part of the process - oh, and long as it actually helps them.

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