Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Change and Moodle at E. O.

Moodle. It evokes diverse reactions among the staff at E. O. Smith High School. As a learning management system and online educational platform, you can't beat it, for the price (it's open source and "free"). It's not the most user friendly system, and if all you want to do is post a few links or homework assignments online, it's sort of like buying a car factory when all you need is an occasional ride. But the adoption of Moodle at E. O. Smith is good practice for what's in store for all of us as we move up the exponential curve of change that is the 21st century.

A little history: In 2012, Jon Swanson and I received a grant from the E. O. Smith Foundation to run two online science enrichment courses over the summer. We set them up using the Moodle learning management system hosted at crteacher.com. The next year, we both began using Moodle to help us "flip" our biology and chemistry classes. Promising results led E. O. Smith to adopt the Moodle platform for their official teacher webpages.

Today, most of our teachers are using E. O. Smith's Moodle site at least as an online point of reference for their classes, and a bunch of us are using it as an integral part of our courses. 14 teachers have had over 1,000 views or posts in the past month, and 5 courses have received over 3,800 posts/views over the same period. School-wide, our site had almost 150,000 views and posts during the month of October.

While I think this represents a serious accomplishment for E. O. Smith, and while I think the Moodle platform is essential for the kind of flipping I do in chemistry, and while I LOVE the open source model and ethic that Moodle embodies, I am under no illusions that it is the end of the story.

For one thing, Moodle pales in comparison to Google Drive for file sharing and collaboration. And more importantly, It will probably pale in comparison with the next innovation that may be right around the corner. That's the exponential nature of our era.

What will that new thing be? Google Classroom? Quite possibly.

Something we haven't even seen. Just as possible.

One thing's for sure. Moodle, and all of us, must adapt to survive.

One thing's for sure. Change is the only constant.

But let's just remember, it's not about change for the sake of change (as exciting and interesting) as that is for change-addicts like me. It's about continuous improvement. Online tech is useful only inasmuch as it is a facilitator of learning.

But its potential in that regard is amazing. So much so that its impact is likely to be exponential.

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