Showing posts with label moodle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label moodle. Show all posts

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Top 10+ Sites for a Successful 1:1 Laptop Program: Experiences from the Trenches

 Greetings from Rock Valley, Iowa, the land of cows and corn! As we wind up our school year this week, I have begun reflecting on just how much our approach to educating kids has changed since becoming 1:1 in our middle and high schools.  A year ago, I had a classroom of 6th graders.  This year, I have transitioned to the role of the district's Technology Integrationist.  I was once worried about switching jobs because I might not be busy enough (I'm a type-A, first born).  Certainly I must have had a moment of insanity? Some temporary dysphoria? In an exhilarating blur, I look up and our year is done.  I have seen teachers completely transform their teaching, provide students with extensive higher order thinking tasks, and offer challenges that weren't possible a year ago.  That being said, let's cut to the meat of this post...the Free Tech 4 Teachers!  While this in no way covers all of the wonderfully useful free sites we use on a daily basis, here are the top sites we wouldn't be without in a 1:1 environment.

1.This open-source software has been our platform on which each teacher is to put his or her classroom information, coursework, links, etc...  Having a common 'playground' for all student academics is easier on everyone.  Click here for a link to the Moodle site. Even teachers with other collaborative sites like Edmodo still link back to their district Moodle page. Kids always know where to go for their work first.  This, first and foremost, is essential to a successful 1:1 environment.

2.
Google Drive and Google Apps have been a dream.  Through the use of the forms, spreadsheets, and docs, our teachers and students have been successfully collaborating like never before.  Through Google Apps, students and teachers are issued a school email account with which all correspondence takes place. Teachers can send out work via a link.  As that original document gets updated, so does the information contained in the link.  Teachers are able to easily assess students in the moment using the Flubaroo script (found in the script gallery). It also seamlessly links with Moodle via the URL uploads.  Teachers and administration are also using Google Drive for virtual meetings, feedback, class officer and other voting procedures.  I use it to maintain the RVTechPD Google Site for professional development, tutorials, and helpful hints for our teachers. We wouldn't be functioning the same without Drive. Three cheers for Google!

3. This little sweetheart became my new best friend this year.  As the only Technology Integrationist for our district, I have a wild schedule that can have me teaching preschoolers one class period and working with seniors the next.  This requires a beastly organization system!  YouCanBook.Me allows you to sync with your calendar (in my case, a Technology Integration Google Calendar) and share in a wide variety of ways (QR code, link, and embed to name a few).  Teachers can then book your time according to your determined "slots".  See the screenshot below... (Can you tell which day is our last full day?)
4.  Wikispaces has been a gem.  Because of its ease of use and versatility, many teachers are using it to create everything from their own personal and student portfolios to entire novel units and ways for students to demonstrate their learning.  The possibilities really are endless. 

5. I suggest this site for those who are willing and able to help those less tech-y.  This is the easiest way to capture your screen and all you're doing in video format that is easily uploaded to YouTube or downloaded to your computer to send to others.  This is the site I use for making mini-tutorials for teachers.  It sure beats reinventing the wheel when a person asks the exact same question a week later!  The free version offers up to 15 minutes of video time, there is no software to install, and it works like a dream.

6.   Probably the coolest, free journaling web tool I've run across.  Unbelievably realistic, it functions just like a notebook.  As a district, we are always looking for new ways to foster the development of writing with our students.  Penzu has been a great venue for journal writing, reflection, and curricular writing.  Pictures and files can be attached with ease, and notebook pages can be shared with teachers as needed. Penzu is used by myriad teachers in the district.



7. Formerly Wallwisher, Padlet is an incredible site used by many teachers in a wide variety of ways.  It is a powerful virtual pinboard, of sorts, that allows you the luxury of making your space into whatever it needs to be: timeline, interactive storyteller, visual book report, assignment planner, and the list goes on.  Here you can see just a few samples of things that can be done on Padlet.


8.  From Dictionary.com comes Word Dynamo... a vocabulary treasure if ever there was one. We were reaching a stale-mate with vocabulary, being sick-to-death of the rote memorization and regurgitation that was happening with standard vocabulary books.  Students weren't learning the words, they were working to be tested over them only to watch them flitter off into oblivion the second the test was over. Word Dynamo is helping to change that.  Not only are there quality, pre-made word lists ready at any time for any subject area, there is the built-in ability for students to make their own cards and interact with them.  Now students are empowered to create their own curricular word lists in any and all subjects.  This serves as an excellent bell-ringer! Instead of the wait time until the bell rings,  students are quickly getting to work on relevant material and working daily with "real" words they are seeing and learning about in context.  Win-win.

9.   What started out as a neat way for me to bookmark sites for my own work quickly became a great way to build and store an on-going library of curricular sites by grade level.  We now have an elementary Symbaloo with a tab per grade level.  Teachers are given the username and password to the Symbaloo and are encouraged to add sites to their grade-specific tab.  Since it is embeddable and user-friendly, even for the youngest on the web, it is now possible for teachers to embed this onto their school webpage as well as utilize them on the iPads that are available for check-out within our district.  Teachers are still encouraged to do their own bookmarking of sites for their teaching or personal use on Draggo, my absolute favorite social bookmarking site.

10.  Quizlet provides a fantastic place for teachers to create their own quizzes, games and activities to suit their curriculum.  Already widely-known by many, Quizlet offers a way to practice skills in a variety of ways.  Nearly every teacher uses Quizlet in our building in some way.  It is a great means of avoiding the traditional, scary paper study guide and engages kids much like a video game would.  By linking specific Quizlet activities to the course's Moodle page, students can begin working on them as soon as the teacher posts it or allows it to be seen by students.

++++++(Just a couple of curriculum-specific sites I couldn't leave out)++++++

  Suggested by our foreign language teacher as a must-have for practicing a new language outside of the classroom, Duolingo offers excellent, individualized practice for students studying a variety of foreign languages. Its combination of verbal and written language work makes it a free find worth delving into.


AAA Math is a site recommended by our middle school math teacher as an excellent supplement to her teaching.  Compatible with the student laptops, as well as the Smartboard, it serves as a great place to find additional resources for nearly every math concept from kindergarten through eighth grade.


"I couldn't live without this in my science room," was a comment made by one our science teachers about PhET.  From the University of Colorado at Boulder comes this fantastic simulation site.  It is unbeatable in what it provides to students in an interactive way. As you can see in the screenshot below, however, it strolls down many avenues of science and math curriculum.




I am a big fan of StudyLadder.  Many of our teachers in elementary and the middle school are utilizing this excellent resource.  It is a multi-subject interactive site that allows you to differentiate for all levels of students through grade six. With the ability to import entire class lists, you can set up individualized, interactive work for your students.  What I especially appreciate about this site is the color coded leveling.  While teachers are shown which color represents which grade level, the students are not.  In addition, StudyLadder is Common Core aligned.

Whether you are 1:1 now or thinking of going that route in the near future, I offer some advice to you.  Gather up those who are not afraid to take risks, to try something new, to realize that their device will not spontaneously combust if you push the wrong button.  Together, explore the far reaches of the curriculum and how technology can and should be integrated into it.   The tech-tentacles of those people are the ones who will light the fires of your other staff members.  Provide support, provide an integrationist, and offer solid professional development opportunities. Just know that there will be hiccups your first year.  Expect them.  Call it version 1.0.  

Rachel Langenhorst is the Technology Integrationist for Rock Valley Community Schools in Rock Valley, Iowa and has been in education for 18 years, holding a BA in Elementary Education with a reading emphasis and a M.Ed in Education Technology. As a child and grandchild of former educators, she shares a life-long passion for learning and helping those around her push themselves to reach their full potential. She is a wife to Deric, mother to Alex, Mason, and Ella, and owner of an insane black lab, Howard.

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Twitter @rlangenhorst 
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Moodle Tutorial Videos

This morning I received an email informing me that a source of Moodle tutorial videos that I featured three years ago has gone offline. That prompted me to search for some new Moodle tutorial videos. There are four sources that I found and think can be helpful for teachers getting started using Moodle.

Russell Stannard offers two sets of Moodle training videos. The first twenty-two part series can be accessed here. Click here to access the second fourteen part series.

MoodleRooms, recently acquired by Black Board, has a YouTube channel in which you can find tutorial videos created by MoodleRooms staff as well as some other videos that they have organized into helpful playlists.

Moodle HQ offers twenty tutorial videos produced by Moodle.com staff.

Using Moodle is probably the best of the YouTube channels that I found dedicated to Moodle. The videos are produced by a teacher, Mary Cooch, who is a languages teacher and Moodle trainer. Mary has produced videos in English and in French.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Seven Free Platforms for Teaching Online Courses

More and more high schools are embracing online courses to reach more students and all times of the day. While you can spend a lot of money for online course software, you don't have to. Here are seven free platforms for teaching online courses.

This list cannot begin without mentioning Moodle first. Moodle is an free platform that is commonly referred to as a course management system or virtual learning environment. To use Moodle you have to either install it on your own server(s) or have someone host it for you. If you don't have a server of your own, a quick Google search for "Moodle hosting" will lead you to plenty of companies that will host Moodle for you. To learn more about Moodle watch the video introduction below.


Claroline is an open source program that gives users the freedom to create their own online classroom. Using Claroline teachers can produce assessment activities, post and collect assignments, build a wiki, monitor student activities, and create chat rooms or discussion forums. Claroline is available as a free download for Mac, Windows, and Linux systems. Claroline is not a hosted service so you do need to have someone host your installation of Claroline. You can, however, demo Claroline online here.

Udemy is a new free platform for teaching courses online. Anyone can sign-up for Udemy and start creating courses in minutes. Udemy offers a variety of tools for delivering content online. Course creators can publish slideshows, publish videos, and create mash-ups of slideshows and videos synched together. Course creators can also hold live online sessions through Udemy's virtual classroom platform. Watch the video below to learn more about Udemy.


RCampus is a free, web-based, platform for creating and conducting courses online. Using RCampus teachers can create a course, collect students' assignments, and maintain a gradebook. RCampus provides all of the tools you would expect to find in an online course management system. Through RCampus you can post assignments, host discussion forums, post videos, post images, post links, collect assignments, and manage a gradebook. Watch the video below to learn more about RCampus.

Learnopia is a free service that offers hosting for online courses. Learnopia is also a place to find and take online courses. If course creators make their courses free for others to take, then hosting is free.  Currently, there are courses on Learnopia that are free and others that require a payment.

eDhii is a service that allows you to create or take self-study courses online. eDhii course creators can offer their content for free or charge a fee for their course content. Course creators only pay a fee if they choose to charge for their course's content. Course content can include text, images, and videos. People in search of a lesson or course can search eDhii's listing of courses and lessons by topic. This service is offline as of May 2016.

Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) is an online community of people sharing their knowledge through university-level courses. Experts volunteer their time and resources to create and facilitate courses in their areas of expertise. The courses and their associated materials are free. However, enrollment in each course is limited in order to provide an environment in which the course facilitator and their students can interact in meaningful ways. Learn more about P2PU in the video below. 

Peer 2 Peer University 2010 from P2P University on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Using VoiceThread in Moodle - Documentation

For users of Moodle, VoiceThread recently announced some useful new information. VoiceThread has  published documentation for integrating VoiceThread modules into Moodle 1.9. In this documentation you will find all you need to know to embed VoiceThreads into Moodle, creating VoiceThread assignments with Moodle, and authenticating with single sign-on.

Applications for Education
Here's an idea that I've previously shared about using VoiceThread in a history classroom:VoiceThread could be used as a great tool for students, parents, and teachers to collaborate on a local history project. Local historical societies are always looking for people willing to share information and knowledge. Creating a VoiceThread to share with a local historical society would be a great way for students to learn about their local history and perform a community service at the same time. Students and teachers could invite their parents and grandparents to share their knowledge of local history in the VoiceThread conversation.

Full disclosure to please the FTC: VoiceThread paid for part of my trip to the NECC 2009 conference.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Do You Moodle? Three Helpful Resources

If you're a Moodle user Moodle Tutorials could be a great reference for you. Moodle Tutorials provides a free place for users to share the video tutorials that they create. As long as your video is about Moodle, you can contribute to Moodle Tutorials. Every video on the Moodle Tutorials website is accompanied by an embed code and a download option. May, 2012 - MoodleTutorials.org seems to have gone offline.

Joyce Seitzinger, author of the Cat's Pyjamas blog, has a great one sheet guide for Moodle using teachers. The guide is essentially a chart of things that you can do with Moodle and how those things can help you reach your pedagogical objectives.

Here's how the guide is read, pick a task such as "create a news forum" on the side of the chart then find an objective on the top of the chart. Follow the two columns to where they meet to find a color coded explanation of why a forum might be good for dissemintating information, but not so good for assessing learning.

You can download the chart here or explore the Cat's Pyjamas here.

Russell Stannard runs an excellent website Teacher Training Videos. Included in his catalog of free videos are tutorials for using Moodle.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Print This, Share This: Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers

Joyce Seitzinger, author of the Cat's Pyjamas blog, has published a great one sheet guide for Moodle using teachers. The guide is essentially a chart of things that you can do with Moodle and how those things can help you reach your pedagogical objectives.

Here's how the guide is read, pick a task such as "create a news forum" on the side of the chart then find an objective on the top of the chart. Follow the two columns to where they meet to find a color coded explanation of why a forum might be good for dissemintating information, but not so good for assessing learning.

You can download the chart here or explore the Cat's Pyjamas here.

Applications for Education
The Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers could be a great resource to share in professional development workshops. The guide is easy to read and quickly answers a lot of questions about effective uses of the many things you can do with Moodle.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching
Moodle Tutorial Videos

Friday, May 21, 2010

Claroline - Open Source Learning Management System

Claroline is an open source program that gives users the freedom to create their own online classroom. With Claroline teachers can produce assessment activities, post and collect assignments, build a wiki, monitor student activities, and create chat rooms or discussion forums. Claroline is available as a free download for Mac, Windows, and Linux systems. Claroline is not a hosted service so you do need to have someone host your installation of Claroline. You can, however, demo Claroline online here.

Applications for Education
If you've been looking for an alternative to Moodle for building your online learning environment, Claroline could be the application for you. The creative freedom that Claroline users have means that teachers can customize activities for any grade level or content area.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching

Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching is a book, authored by Jeff Stanford, that I've been slowly working my way through since the beginning of the year. Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching could really be described as two books in one. Because of the extensive directions provided throughout the book, even if you've never used Moodle, you can utilize the strategies described in the book. As a case in point, the second chapter of the book is 72 pages long and is dedicated to teaching teachers everything they need to know in order to create a quality online learning environment for their second language students.

Chapters three through eight of Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching offer a combined fifty-five concrete examples of activities for teaching second language skills through a Moodle environment. Each of these teaching activities is outlined with detailed directions for making them work in Moodle. Directions are easily identified in each chapter by the heading "here's how to do it." Attention is given in the directions to pointing out common pit-falls and how to avoid them. I was really impressed by chapter 8 of Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching. Chapter 8 offers seven listening activities that can be done in Moodle. It may be because I've never taught second language learners, but I had never thought of creating listening activities in Moodle.

Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching wraps up with a chapter on assessment and a chapter on extended activities. Included in these chapters are directions for creating assessments in Moodle and record-keeping in Moodle. Also included in the final chapter are ideas for student e-portfolios in Moodle.

Overall, Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teachingis a very good resource for second language teachers who are looking to build an online learning environments for their students. The "here's how to do it" section included with each activity make it possible for new Moodle users to confidently try online teaching activities.

One last note before you run out and buy this book, it's important to note that the book assumes that you already have Moodle installed on a network that you can access. The book shows end-users (classroom teachers) how to use Moodle, but does not give directions for installing Moodle on a network. If you're in need of Moodle hosting, Global Classroom is one of many good Moodle hosting services. If you're not sure if Moodle is going to be "your thing" or not Global Classroom offers a free plan that will accommodate up to 50 students. I have a free account that I use for testing out different Moodle tools.

FTC Disclosure: I did receive a free review copy of Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Learning.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Free Teacher Training Videos - Including Moodle

Russell Stannard has recently added some new videos to his excellent website Teacher Training Videos. The newest additions include two videos about Moodle and two videos about creating screencasts.

Applications for Education
If you're new to using technology in the classroom, Teacher Training Videos is a must-bookmark website. If you're a teacher looking for videos to supplement the instruction you give to students, Teacher Training Videos is good resource for you to have.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Moodle Tutorial Videos

If you're a new Moodle user Moodle Tutorials could be a great reference for you. Moodle Tutorials provides a free place for users to share the video tutorials that they create. As long as your video is about Moodle, you can contribute to Moodle Tutorials. Every video on the Moodle Tutorials website is accompanied by an embed code and a download option.


If you would like to use Moodle, but your school doesn't support installing it on your local network, you may want to consider using Global Classroom's free hosting options.
Update: May 2012 - Moodle Tutorials seems to have gone offline. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Moodle Tutorials and Other Moodle Resources

Global Classroom, as I've shared in the past, provides free Moodle hosting to schools that don't have the capacity to host Moodle. One of Global Classroom's employees, Joe Thibault (a really nice guy that I had lunch with at FOSS VT last spring) writes a blog through which he shares some how-to tutorials as well as resources that you can use with your Moodle. Today, Joe posted a link to some free quizzes that you can use in Moodle. You can find that link here, but I encourage you to find the link on the Global Classroom blog and explore what it has to offer.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Most Read Posts

After a five day vacation (camping in the rain) I'm back to civilization. I'm trying to get caught up on nearly 5,000 new items in my RSS reader. While I'm catching up, check out five of the most commonly read blog posts over the last six months.

In order by popularity here are the five most read items over the last six months.
1. Famhoo - Family Safe Search Engine
2. An American Teacher in China - Olympic Thoughts
3. Banned Websites are Today's Version of Yesterday's Banned Books
4. Free Moodle Hosting on Global Classroom
5. Animoto vs. Photostory 3 - A Side by Side Comparison

Friday, April 4, 2008

Free Moodle Hosting on Global Classroom

Today, I had lunch with Joe Thibault at the FOSS VT conference. Joe works with Global Classroom. Global Classroom provides free hosting for Moodle. Global Classroom classroom also provides free Moodle training for teachers. Moodle is a powerful application, but it does require server space and network management. Global Classroom removes the biggest obstacle to using Moodle, server capacity and network maintenance. Global Classroom hosts and manages a global Moodle network that any teacher can join and use to create their own online classroom. This is an excellent free service that schools should take advantage of.

Moodle is an open-source program for creating online learning environments. Moodle has hundreds of features that teachers and students can utilize. Some of the most commonly utilized features of Moodle are online test creation and test taking, wiki pages, posting and collecting assignments, attendance register and gradebook.

Below is a short video introduction to Moodle.