Webinar Overview – Teaching With Moodle

This week’s Edublogs Webinar (recording here ) presented by Tomaz Lasic was a terrifically informative session that opened my (and I think many others’) eyes to the myriad ways of using Moodle in teaching.

The Webinar

This was a well attended session with our usual global mix from Australia, the USA, Canada, South America and Europe. There was also a variety of Moodle experience ranging from none to very experienced, with almost half of us falling into the “novice” group.

Tomaz began with a look at the principles underlying Moodle …

PrinciplesOfMoodle… and two questions to ponder during the session.

He then moved on to take us through the processes involved in building a course. This part of the session was packed with information! Tomaz used examples throughout from a course developed in his recent teaching role, showing us how the learners had become part of the development process and thus shared ownership of the course. A superb teaching strategy and fascinating to see how it can be implemented with Moodle – a huge contrast with the way many people use Learning Management systems (LMS) of any type ie as a repository for documents. To my relief (as a Moodle novice) most of the questions arising in text chat were ably fielded by the more experienced Moodle users in the audience. This meant that Tomaz was able to maintain the flow and his train of thought giving us a fascinating insight into the thoughts behind the development of the course. As a couple of people said at the end it would have been nice to see the options in action, but there would have been the inevitable trade-off in terms of covering less ground. If Tomaz had done this the focus would necessarily have been on a far smaller part of what is available and we would not have had such a clear picture of the many options available in Moodle.

To take us full circle at the end of the session Tomaz returned to the underlying principles of Moodle and the questions he posed at the beginning. He invited whiteboard comments on several aspects of using Moodle including how best to approach teaching with Moodle.

BestApproachFinally there was some excellent and extremely positive feedback. This was a great session all round with much food for thought and exciting strategies shared.

Next week

SerendipitybsmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs Serendipity – unconference session so bring along your hot topics and burning issues (what makes you spit with anger or thump a tub with passion) and throw them into the melting pot for the poll to choose our topic in the first ten minutes.

Join us on Thursday April 1st at 23:00 GMT/UTC  (7pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday April 2nd at 1am CEST,7am West Aus, 10am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room

Also next week I am also doing a webinar on Wednesday March31st at 09:00 GMT/UTC (5am USA EST, 10am BST, 11am CEST, 5pm West Aus, 8pm NSW) depending on your timezone. This is  “E-blends and Regional/Remote Students”  in the LearnCentral public webinar room

This will be an interactive session aimed at exploring some of the challenges (and some possible solutions) of using e-learning blends for flexible delivery to a highly diverse and geographically scattered student group across four AQF levels of literacy, numeracy and study skills.

  • Context – where is this happening?
  • Who are the students?
  • Blending the learning – how and why
  • Some of the challenges.
  • Meeting the challenges.
  • Where to go next?
  • Feedback

Although this is under the banner of eT@lking in the Australia Series it is likely to be of interest to anyone working with distance learners wherever they are in the world.

Serendipity Webinar – convert resources for e-learning

A very lively recorded Serendipity session this week in the Edublogs/Elluminate Community Partnership room. The topic chosen was “helping people to convert materials for e-learning”. As usual in these sessions the discussion was wide ranging not just narrowly focused on the precise wording but including many stories from participants of e-strategies that they use and that provide terrific examples to help those needing to convert materials for e-learning. The microphone, text chat and whiteboard were all humming with activity giving us many ideas to consider.


Comments throughout and at the end suggested that much serendipitous learning had indeed occurred this week, and that we had lived up to our name. I think that the sessions always provide learning, food for thought and are engaging but it’s very exciting when we get a “Wow!” session such as this one. In my opinion these happen mostly when the topic chosen is broad, and links very strongly with the passions of participants.

ToolsStrategiesSmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs “Tools and Strategies” where guest presenter Tomaz Lasic (teacher, coach & mentor) will present “Teaching with Moodle”. Currently at Moodle HQ where he is an interface between educators and Moodle developers. Tomaz has many Moodle stories to tell – today he will give us an overview and then throw the session open to questions (not-tech) about using Moodle “on the ground” Join us on Thursday March 25th at 23:00 GMT (7pm USA EST, Midnight CET) or Friday March 26th at 7am West Aus, 10am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room.


White(board) Magic! – Webinar

This week’s Edublogs Webinar (recording here ) was one of our occasional sessions focussing on a tool, or feature of using Elluminate. I tend to feel that I’m a bit too “close” to these particular sessions to give a very objective overview, however I will do my best!


I am always very conscious with Elluminate that many people use it just as a “lecture” platform. There is a tendency to just put a Powerpoint on the whiteboard and “talk to it” (sometimes literally it seems to me!). I am also very aware of my own tendency to “glaze over” or switch my attention to something else in a face-to-face context if it is just reading from slides or even using them properly as “hooks” for talking about. How much harder is it to continue paying attention in a virtual context where there is no body langage or visual stimulus from the presenter or other participants. So, now and again I get on my own particular hobby horse about some of the many ways you can use Elluminate in an interactive way with participants. This session highlighted some of the ways the variety of whiteboard options can be used to keep participant interest and also be aware of who is participating and who is (possibly) not paying much attention! We had participants with varying levels of both Elluminate generally and whiteboard experience. Trying not to overface those new to Elluminate while providing a challenge to the more experienced is always a bit of a balancing act.

Where were we coming from?

I used some polling to ask about the experience of the group in relation to maintaining their own attention during both face-to-face and virtual sessions, most people had experienced the “switching off” tendency in both situations. Almost all admitted to having been in a virtual session where only the “off topic” content of the backchannel kept them awake. As we would probably all expect the way the sessions were managed had a distinct impact on the tendency to doze off!


Some of the tools

The main part of the session gave everyone the opportunity to be moderators. This is fun but always chaotic! Before giving  moderator status to everyone I gave an overview of some of the whiteboard tools available to moderators. Moderators have access to tools that participants can not normally use. These can be found on the Whiteboard tool set next to the whiteboard with others available through the “Tools, Whiteboard” menu. Some of are very useful when working with whiteboard interactives. For example the ability to move objects in and out of the background – an object moved into the background cannot be moved or edited. This is great if you need to create an instant drag and drop to illustrate/extend a point, or assess understanding in a session. Other whiteboard tools available to moderators are great for organising whiteboard contributions. For instance you can group, align or distribute objects in a similar way to in Powerpoint and also copy and paste objects between screens. Yet other tools enable you to see who is contributing (Explore Objects) and to monitor activity on breakout room whiteboards -Explore Screens and then select the screen.

Let’s go feral!

Once everyone had moderator status we quickly reached the anarchy stage. I love this because I find that everyone starts playing with new tools they have available so we jump around the whiteboards and all sorts of things happen. However we re-established some sort of tenuous order and moved on. I had previously created several breakout rooms each with a preloaded activity on the whiteboard. The next step was for the group to distribute themselves to breakout rooms in pairs/small groups and try out the activities. We had a few problems at this stage – the combination of breakout rooms and everyone being moderators put quite a heavy load on Elluminate and also on my own computer. So from my perspective there were some frustrating moments when I was struggling to move between breakout rooms to check out progress. This also led to some problems for participants because the slow response meant that I inadvertently moved people between rooms a couple of times. Being teleported like that can be very disconcerting! However all was sorted at the end and everyone brought their activities back to the main room.

How did it go?

Despite the somewhat flakey nature of the activities everyone seemed to enjoy the session and the opportunity to play with the whiteboard in ways other than just brainstorming. There were several requests in feedback for more opportunities to play with Elluminate tools/features. As always after these sessions I have mixed feelings – I love doing this sort of thing and people always seem to get something out of them. However I just don’t feel that I do them well enough and I do sometimes push the technology too far! Then again we all learn from what goes wrong when I am too ambitious :).

Next week

SerendipitybsmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs Serendipity – unconference session so bring along your hot topics and burning issues and throw them into the melting pot for the poll to choose our topic in the first ten minutes.

Join us on Thursday March 18th at 23:00 GMT (7pm USA EST, Midnight CET) or Friday March 19th at 7am West Aus, 10am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room


Serendipity – Two topics!

Sorry for the delay in posting this everyone. I intended to finish it early Sunday morning but woke with a migraine, so lost the day until now.

Once again we had a dead heat for topics in our recent Serendipity unconference webinar. Those chosen were “Peer Support” arising out of discussion in previous webinars and “Education Reform” triggered by the mass firing of teachers in a US school and the reactions to this by prominent politicians. As always when we have two topics minds are focussed and we cover a lot of ground in a short time. For a better sense of the discussion checkout the recording.

Just a reminder for those of you new to our sessions that although we use the words: education,  teacher and also school very often – this is generic and used for convenience. Our discussions are of education, teaching and learning institutions in the broadest sense and we have participants from across all sectors and also globally.

We started with Peer Support which generated a lively discussion starting with a variety of ideas about what constituted peer support. The consensus was that it covers a range of different interactions. In my own personal opinion it is an overarching term that includes peer mentoring and peer tutoring as well as teamwork activities. Several of us shared occasions when peer support had occurred either in a planned way or spontaneously in our classes. There was a feeling that this might be a topic to explore more fully in a focussed session perhaps by inviting several people to share strategies that had worked in their context.

The discussion on Education Reform was triggered by recent events in the US where all the teachers in a school were fired, this was stated to be because of poor student outcomes – thanks to Shelly Terrell for the link to this article and several other related ones that she provided in the text chat.

Again this topic was one that gave rise to enthusiastic discussion and revealed something approaching despair about what is happening to education systems worldwide and the impact on teachers.


The apparent continually increasing culture of blame with teachers on the receiving end is something which has a hugely negative effect on motivation and enthusiasm. Teachers who enter the education systems of the world generally do so with a passion for their work but you only have to look at the numbers of teachers who seem to be leaving education worldwide to see that disillusion is setting in on a large scale. As with the first topic this is one that seems to call for a more focussed session or even a series of sessions. It is certainly a perennial subject when teachers get together, and one which always seems to conclude that the only solution is to keep “chipping away”. However – from my very personal perspective it seems to be getting worse with teachers becoming more and more political and sociological scapegoats for the ills of society.

FineFocusSmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus!” session a mix of  “Techie How To” and “Tools and Strategies” where we will “play” with Elluminate whiteboards from the Moderator’s perspective in “White(board) Magic!”

Join us on Thursday March 11th at 23:00 GMT (6pm USA EST, Midnight CET) or Friday March 12th at 7am West Aus, 10am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room.