Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Modelling good Moodling in a secondary school

Today I visited Great Marlow School in, er, Marlow, who are starting to prepare their Moodle for use next academic year. I'd not been to the school before, but it was an interesting contrast to the approach undertaken in some places - and any school that has a Bushisms poster up in the corridor gets my hanging chad-free vote...
The site is already up and running, but isn't going to be used 'properly' until September - but what's happening in the interim is a lot of preparatory work: staff training, dissemination of usernames, placing appropriate content in courses, etc. It's also the first school I've been to which has a specific plan for the development of the VLE - this one 'only' stretches to September but it gives specific milestones and targets for achieving things.
There are ambitious plans - some integration with the school's library system, a suite of training videos and (probably a sign of things to come) the fact that the person looking after the management of the site will be doing so from the United States as of the end of next month - using Breeze Connect and the communication tools within Moodle to support this.
Another thing which struck me was the way that four members of staff from the school, including technical staff and teaching staff, were involved today - it wasn't a meeting with just one person who feels they are doing something on their own. It's clear that this is a core development for all sorts of things - whether personalisation, effective use of ICT or just developing teaching and learning across the school.
One thing I came away with echoed a point I think I've made at various seminars and presentations - that embedding a learning platform in the culture of a school is something which you can't do during a month's or a week's "free trial" of a commercial product - unless they're willing to let you trial it for at least a year. GMS get to practice with their learning environment, get it how they want it, configure it as they see fit, and they're not paying a licence to do so. This means that they don't rush it into classrooms / homework / the school community "because we've paid for it" and so things can progress naturally, without being forced, and at a pace that supports both learners of all roles (both staff and students). Result, George!


  1. As a school librarian, I am very interested in the development of VLEs in schools. Was the librarian involved in the setup of this VLE? If not, why not?

  2. I'm pretty sure the librarian's been involved in the preparation of the Learning Resources section - I think there's a really important role for Librarians to play in using VLEs. In other sectors this role is known as an "information technologist" - someone who knows what's available to support learning and (just as important) what is being taught and learned - and can matchmake the two together, often with some technical skills.

  3. I have been working very closely with Great Marlow's Librarian, as the LRC will feed into all departments and be as open and in demand as the physical library is.
    Once we have the library catalogue integrated it will really take off.
    I'd gladly discuss this further if you are interested.

    P.s. thanks for the posting Ian, just read it - I may have to print out a copy and take it with me.