Moodling Professional Development Training that Worked

Moodling Professional Development Training that Worked

Leaunda S. Hemphill (Western Illinois University, USA) and Donna S. McCaw (Western Illinois University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-120-9.ch050
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Three junior high teachers and 12 senior high school teachers were introduced to online teaching strategies and tools in a three-day workshop. The teachers developed their basic online course shell on Moodle, an open-source online course management system. Following the workshop, teachers revised their course shells and created short teaching modules to meet the differentiated needs of their students. The modules were evaluated using a modified version of the Quality Online Course Initiative (QOCI) Rubric (Illinois Online Network, 2007). All teacher participants completed the workshop training and 14 successfully met all the QOCI criteria on their modules. This Moodle training was a capstone experience following three years of curricula, content, and pedagogical training through the ISAMS project. The project was funded as part of a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Teacher Improvement grant which provided professional development for math and science teachers.
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Literature Review

Continuous improvement is the prize sought by all effective school administrators. Yet, it is difficult to achieve at the secondary level and even more challenging to sustain. This project was developed using the research on adult learning theory, professional development, and technology integration to impact instruction and thus student learning.

Adult Learning Theory

Knowles (1990) reported that adults learn best when they are a) given a voice in determining the topics of study, b) shown how the class will help them connect new learning to their existing knowledge and/or experience base (Speck, 1996), and c) are provided with a program that is organized and has clearly defined goals and course objectives. Additionally, Knowles found that the learning must have practical application to the adult learner’s work. It is also critical that adults be treated with respect. With a basis in Knowles’ theory of how teachers (adult learners) learn best, we then examined the research on professional development.

Professional Development

Professional development (PD) models where teachers sit and get or experience drive-by teacher training do not work (Fullan, 2001; Guskey, 2002; Hoban, 2002). Professional development that does work: a) is sustained over a period of months or years, rather than days (Association of Curriculum & Supervision, 2003; Corcoran, 1995); b) focuses on the content taught by the teacher (Birman, et al., 2000; King & Newmann, 2000); c) has daily application (King & Newman, 2000); and d) is collaborative, fun, and is perceived as needed by the teacher (Killion, 2002; King & Newmann, 2000; Speck, 1996). Vygotksy’s (1978) zone of proximal development can be used by the trainer through scaffolding strategies. Welk (2006) describes how Vygotsky’s model can be used when working with faculty facilitators in an asynchronous online environment. Scaffolding strategies such as providing many opportunities for instructing, monitoring, and providing continuous feedback allows the shift of responsibility for learning to move from the trainer to the facilitator.

In order to build capacity for change, a job-embedded professional development (PD) framework was utilized. Job-embedded PD is defined as, “learning that occurs as educators engage in their daily work activities. It can be both formal and informal and includes but is not limited to discussion with others, peer coaching, mentoring, study groups and action research” (Galloway, n.d., p. 1). In job-embedded learning, participants learn by doing, by reflecting on their experience, and then by stretching (singularly or in a group) to the next level of excellence.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Blog: A blog (or web log) is an online personal journal that can be updated and made available to others to read and post comments.

Student Tracking: Ability to track student online usage of course material ( EduTools, 2007 ) and analyze student learning progress.

Choice: This Moodle tool allows teachers to ask a multiple-choice question as a quick poll ( Williams, 1991 ).

Group Tool: This Moodle tool allows students to be organized into workgroups.

Live Chat: Users can communicate with each other in real-time via the Web ( EduTools, 2007 ).

Glossary: Using this Moodle tool, students and teachers can create and update a list of definition entries, such as a dictionary of terms ( Williams, 1991 ).

Forum: Users can communicate with each other online in a text-based discussion forum. ( EduTools, 2007 ).

Open Source: Users of open source software receive the source code and are allowed to alter and redistributed the software ( EduTools, 2007 ).

Wiki: A website where many authors can collaboratively add and edit content.

RSS (Real Simple Syndication) Feeds: Users can subscribe to RSS feeds published by websites such as blogs and news websites ( Richardson, 2004 ). Usually displayed as a linked headline and summary, these feeds deliver updated content from the websites directly to the user.

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