Improving Our Self-Directed Professional Development in Moodle

October 19, 2010 Justin Miscellaneous

Moodle has become the primary vehicle of our online learning opportunities. Our Inservice portal was moved off the outdated Moodle server to the newer one that is currently used by teachers and students as an online classroom management tool. The district will be piloting its first entirely online course for K-12 students in the near future, but we do have a number of self-directed courses available. Instructional topics consist of things like using AESOP (our online leave reporter), MyStudent (our administrative desktop application), the Video Portal for playing licensed videos (only accessible inside the district), and others. The content in most of these courses are divided into multiple sections (Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced). Participants typically watch one or more videos showing the features of the tool, after which they must pass a quiz with an 80% or greater score. If they pass, they receive a printable certificate recognizing their completion of the course, and earn certification points that can be used toward CACTUS re-licensure credit.

We also use Moodle to deliver the annual instruction, required for all district employees, on Blood Borne Pathogens, hazardous materials in the workplace, and the district’s policy on harassment and discrimination. Moodle will continue to be the chosen means to deliver these forms of online professional development.

However, I think we can do better. I question the effectiveness of these self-directed courses, for a few reasons:

  1. There is no measurement of preexisting skills and knowledge to use as a baseline, to evaluate learning.
  2. The short 10-question assessment accompanying each course’s section does not properly measure the effectiveness of the courses. Users are free to retake the quiz as many times as they need to get it right. There is no penalty for retaking the quiz.
  3. We have no data on the impact of these courses. In fact, from personal experience I can vouch that many of the participants who passed some of these courses, are later stumped on very basic aspects of the tools in question. An adequate instructional program should minimize these instances. But more importantly, we should be able to assess how many people are experiencing these post-training difficulties.
  4. Some of the courses haven’t been revised in over 3 years.

Without proper assessment, a self-directed course isn’t much different than just posting the tutorials on WeberTube. There is value to self-directed learning, but we need to take a more active role in evaluating these courses. Participants need to be given the chance to put their knowledge into practice. Follow-up surveys could be conducted to determine if the training impacted their behavior 1 month, 3 months, or even 6 months down the road. And revisions to the courses should be frequent and consistent with the data gathered.

inservice, Moodle, online, professional development,

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