Friday, September 11, 2009

Moodleposium Backchannel

The Moodleposium backchannel was brilliant. It was the first time I had participated in this. The backchannel was built using twitter with the hashtag #moodleposium. This twitter stream was aggregated into a coveritlive window on the Moodleposium Moodle site. The backchannel started several days before the event started and has drawn to a close several days after.

Lots of discussions and summaries of presentation on twitter - some RTs as well showing it moving to a wider audience.

The bad side of the backchannel was the appalling infrastructure the University has for this type of communication. It was an embarrassment - we looked like we were from the dark ages. There were inadequate powerpoints partially solved by ad hoc provision of a few powerboards. But the wireless internet connection was the worst. The wifi connection could not cope with the traffic demands and spat the dummy. Wireless broadband coverage was also poor. I could only get 2G coverage most of the time using my Optus dongle. This is just not good enough.

There should be sufficient powerpoints in the risers of the tiered seating and the WiFi system should be able to cope with 100s of simultaneous users. Also, 3G coverage from all major telcos should be available everywhere in the University.

Moodleposium Day 2

The second day of the moodleposium was the moodlepracticum. It started brilliantly but went downhill from there - not really, I was the first speaker for the day. Nearly everything on Day 2 was really good.

I got good feedback on my 10 minute session on glossaries. As did the others - many asked if more of these 10 minute slots could be included in the future. Margaret Robson repeated her material from the Gaggle on templates. Minh-tam showed the work he had done on the home page.

The keynote for the day was presented by Moodleman - Julian Ridden. Julian talked about the advantage of FOSS vs proprietary. Proprietary systems include features which will help it sell to many users - do not customise for unusual applications. Moodle comes with less in the box but has numerous modules written by others to add to the vanilla. is where you find them.

The second session contained a talk on a Formative Assessment Tool by Derek Chirnside. I did not see any great value in this tool for UC. The second talk in this session was by Mark Drechsler from Netspot. He looked at the pros and cons of using external Web 2.0 systems, custom modules or moodle basic. The basic issue was one of features vs control. External systems eg Wordpress, Mediawiki contained much greater features but passed control to those organisations. Internal moodle features had fewer features but more control and fewer risks. Customised modules were in the middle. The final talk was by Megan Poore on the legal risks of external Web 2.0 systems. She raised EUAs, IP, compulsory use, safety, reliability of supply. Lots to think about.

The third session was a discussion chaired by Alan Arnold on what was good and bad in Moodle from a teacher's perspective. Good things was the ability to see the students' view and the forums. Bad points were the difficulties in assigning students to groups, the problems with themes and the lack of an email function.

The final session had a series of 10 minute talks. Matt Bacon showed how to use audio files in Moodle including the way it put in an audio control bar when you created a link to an mp3 file. Nifty trick of creating a link from a single space if you want to hide the download link. Graham MacKinnell showed the dialogue module and how to use it - hint - choose separate groups and send a welcome message to all participants to prime the system. Felicia Zhang talked about the reporting features and research available from the reports function. I will be talking to Felicia about how to capture and analyse that data.

Moodleposium Day 1

The moodleposium was a great success. I had expected about 100 participants from around Canberra. There were almost 300 participants from all over Australia and New Zealand.

Te first substantive session had Denise Kirkpatrick PVC OU UK talking about the implementation of Moodle at OU. The talk was interesting about how a large distance university dealt with an LMS selection and implementation. Most of it was not relevant to UC's situation though.

The second session I attended was by Amanda Burrell. Amanda talked about group work and the methods she uses to get it to work. She spoke with a lot of energy and showed some interesting examples of her students' work. Some of the things she used was to get students to submit, weekly, their evaluations of the performance of the other group members along with their journals. She said that this required 90 mins of marking per week. She also monitored team performance by using a 2 hour weekly class session for work on the group projects. I am not sure if Amanda's techniques can be applied in my discipline.

Also in the second session was a presentation by Kerry Trabinger from CIT. I found Kerry's talk very useful. The big ideas I took from Kerry's talk were:
  1. You never get a second chance to make a first impression
  2. Training and induction are vital
  3. Facilitators need to manage the conversations initially by replying in positive ways that encourage further posts
  4. Actively need to pursue lurkers to make them participants
The third session was by the founder of Moodle, Martin Dougiamis. His talk focussed on the improvements coming Moodle 2.0. He promised a beta in December and production release in time for 2010 academic year. The big improvements were in integration and facilitating the creation of mashups. He also promised a focus on pedagogy through the Moodle 2.x life cycle.

The fourth session I attended had presentations by James Strong and Martin Dougiamis and it dealt with technical issues. James covered the hardware and software requirements for hosting, development and testing environments, backups and disaster recovery and service level agreements. Martin talked about the technical issues involved in Moodle 2.0. The bad news was that all hacks written for 1.9 were going to break.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Students at Risk 6399 - Week 8

I have sent emails to all students who have not attempted the fourth online test. This email reminded the students that they have less than a week to undertake the test.

I have sent SMS messages using to all students who have only attended one tutorial this semester. The SMS stated:
You have only attended 1 tute in Contemp Issues in Actg. You are at risk of failing. Please call me to discuss your performance. Andrew Read

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Students at Risk 6399 - Week 7

I have sent the usual emails to students who have not attended tutorials in week 7. I strengthened the email to the students who had only attended one tutorial by adding the following paragraph:

Come and see me during my consultation times (on LearnOnline) or call to make an appointment as soon as possible so I can help you develop a strategy that may give you a chance of recovering from the disastrous position in which you are currently located.

I have also sent emails to all students who did not attempt the third online test or who did poorly (<70%).

I have also posted a message on LearnOnline asking students to check their email accounts and reminding them of the new email account.

I have telephoned all students who have not attended any tutorials this semester. I was unable to reach two of the students but have spoken to all of the others about their performance. 5 of them have promised to improve their performance, 1 has indicated that he will withdraw from the unit.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Students at Risk 6399 - Week 6

I have sent the standard emails to all students who have not attended tutorials - see week 5 for wording. I have also sent emails to all students who have not attempted test 3 or who have performed poorly on test 3. This email was sent with sufficient time for students to attempt the test at least one more time before it closes.