Online Learning Cartoon which has a picture of a teacher at her computer. The words "Teaching Online" are at the top. Underneath the picture are the words "You have 736 new messages."

Mastering Moodle (Or, Amy’s First Attempt at Playing Professor)

I’ll admit it, I’m not a technology whiz. I may have a computer or three, but that doesn’t mean I always know what I’m doing. This seems laughable given that I work for the University of Wisconsin Colleges Online doing a lot of work in an online learning environment.

Case in point: until last week, I did not know how to successfully operate a conference phone.  I shan’t divulge that mishap…let’s just say I failed to connect to the people I was meaning to contact…

On the other hand, I’ve become pretty handy with the software the UWC uses for their online courses, Desire2Learn. To put this post in context, D2L is one of several types of software that can be used for online courses. Others include Blackboard, Angel, and Moodle. I am currently enrolled in a workshop through the Sloan Consortium about Moodle, and it is here my adventure begins.

The whole point of this workshop is to develop a course using Moodle, and one accomplishes this by having one’s own course to play in. These, interestingly enough, are called sandbox courses. I can only assume this means these courses are quite fun to mess around with. We are supposed to become familiar with the software through different assignments and tutorials. I haven’t delved too deep into it yet, but I am already enjoying myself.

I am not a professor by any means, nor am I qualified to be an instructor, but I have the chance to “imitate” one, so to speak. I am building my course around the Black Death (this is how I deem this a historical post…), and I have to upload a syllabus into the course. My facilitator told me it does not need to be perfect, basically just a placeholder. Me, being the overachieving, excited post-grad I am, decided to create a semi-usable (or, pseudo-syllabus as I’d like to call it) document for this class. Thus far, I have come up with objectives, grading, and am now working on the course outline. This is difficult, and I give professors all the credit in the world for developing these.

The kicker is, I’m enjoying it more than I thought. Originally, I was overwhelmed by the fact everyone else in the workshop has much more experience than me. But then I remembered we are all here to learn, and so long as I abide by the guidelines and expectations of the course, who says I can’t have fun?! I am also in the process of figuring out discussion questions to ask about the Black Death, one being, “In 250 words or less, tell me what you know about the Black Death”. I figure it is a good inquiry question.

I find the best part so far of the syllabus-building has been coming up with the course outline. I have created such titles as “Causes and Consternation” and “Vectors and Vexation”…catchy, right?

This is a relatively short post, but I would like to know your thoughts! Have you used Moodle before? Do you have any suggestions, hints, things I could bring into this sandbox course?

Just don’t be calling me Dr. Williams anytime soon! 🙂


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