Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Switching users, and Primary French

This morning I had two school visits squeezed into the space before lunch. First up was a visit to Buckingham School (in Buckingham). This was the first school in Buckinghamshire to have a public Moodle - it was the school's keenness which was one of the factors to start us on the Moodle route in the first place.
Things have come a long way since then, however due to a few issues the school's Moodle username system has remained a reflection of the internal school usernames. When Buckingham started (two and a half years ago) we didn't have single sign-on with the main BucksGfL username system, so the school simply adopted a series of usernames which reflected their internal school logins. By the end of 2004 Atomwide had set up things to that all of a school's users could be synchronised with that school's Moodle (which happens about every 30 minutes by default) - but (and this is a critical lesson for any school to learn) the person leading the use of Moodle had left and had taken with them most of the knowledge and momentum to pursue online learning.
This situation has been the same since then - and meanwhile other schools have started, caught up and overtaken the school and we (as a Local Authority) have been liasing with West Sussex and other LAs in pursuing a common approach to setting up Moodles. This means that (understandably) the situation is markedly different to that of thirty months ago. Meanwhile the school's Moodle is on v1.4.3, rather than v1.6.5+ which I hope all of the school Moodles will be upgraded to over the coming Easter break, so there's been a need for a while to bring things up to date.
Recently, Geoff Lambrechts (Aylesbury Vale ICT Consultant) and I have been into the school and have agreed a way to bring things into line with the approach taken by other schools. As Buckingham is fed by some primary schools who are using Moodle effectively, this will mean that year 6 pupils leaving places like Winslow and Buckingham Primary schools going to Buckingham should be able to use the same BucksGfL username they were using at primary school. Geoff and I are going into the school to do a number of training sessions over next term and we hope to share the developed resources with other Bucks schools through the central BucksGfL site.
Straight from Buckingham I went down the road to Winslow CE Combined School, our longest-serving primary Moodlers. I was there to meet with Chris Shaw, a primary MFL Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) who's currently developing a French for Year 3 course which will be shared with other schools in Bucks (a function of her role as an AST). I've never sat down with her and seen what she's doing before, but it's fantastic. There's an excellent use of quizzes (which we spent some time today starting to add audio to), and a really comprehensive listening, reading and speaking approach to lots of elements - I'm going to support Chris in developing the Moodle side of things, and hopefully she'll be able to concentrate on thinking about how teachers and pupils can use this to support learning, both inside the classroom and outside.
We introduced quizzes at the final Chiltern & South Bucks / Wycombe primary Moodle session yesterday, but Chris's use goes way beyond the basics. Working with other staff in other schools (who will provide the audio files) we are hoping to generate a complete Year 3 course for use by staff and pupils in any primary school in Bucks.

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