Monday, March 17, 2014

Using A Classroom Moodle on Prism

The PRISM Project

PRISM offers free digital resources for middle school teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in Indiana. The project is hosted at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Terre Haute, IN). Funding for this innovative approach to teaching and learning comes from the Lilly Endowment.


Dr. Patricia A. Carlson - Principal Investigator/Project Director

Matthew Davidson - Programmer
·       Bob Jackson - Educational Liaison
·       Michael Johnson - EMERGE Program Liaison
·       Ryan Smith - Webmaster/System Administrator & PRISM Project Lead

I have used PRISM in English 10 for several years.  Shoals Jr./Sr. High School teachers used it as a Professional Development forum last year.
Chadd Smith at SIEC is very helpful in answering moodle related questions.  Ryan Smith at the PRISM base in Terre Haute also answers questions online and provides information about moodle workshops offered free by Rose-Hulman.
The first thing you need to do is decide how you want to set up your classes or PD.  I use topics for classes and news forum discussion for PD.
You may sign up for online tutorial classes to learn how to use PRISM.  I took three different moodle classes at the Southern Indiana Education Consortium (SIEC) in Jasper and taught a summer optional in-service which met on Tuesday mornings in my classroom mini-lab.  I also conducted after-school optional moodle in-service trainings in my classroom so the nine teachers who are using it could share what they are doing. 
One downside is the amount of time it takes to type in your multiple choice tests and/or quizzes.  One big upside is that once they are typed in, they are there forever (until you delete them).  Every year I delete the past students in  June and add the new students in August.  Yet, the topic outline of my To Kill A Mockingbird course remains the same. 
Once the answers are entered in with the quizzes, the moodle will grade the quizzes or tests and you will have instant results.  You may assign a grade point for each question or you may take the number correct and create your own grade percentage.  So, although it takes some time to set up the moodle, in the long run if you use it as many years as I have it will save you time in grading. I have it set up so students may take a quiz or test one time.  You may set it up so they retest if you want, or if I have a student I want to take something again I delete his first response and he is allowed another attempt.  I learned the first year that it is not a good idea to let students see the correct responses immediately after taking the test as this encourages cheating.  We go over the tests/quizzes in class using the wall screen and the ceiling in-Focus projector.  You may also get an instant printout of which questions an individual student missed or specific questions that a large majority of the class may have missed. There is an online calendar so you may manage when the test or quiz starts and when it ends.  The eye feature will also hide whatever you have on the moodle from sight (closed eye) or will display it for everyone to see (open eye). I set up my timelines for a couple of years so I am not constantly going in and updating the calendar dates since the closed eye feature will keep topics from being seen before I want to explain them.
The free CD’s that the textbook companies provide in recent adoptions do not upload well into moodle, but they can be typed into the moodle system format and will work well.  It’s not a five minute solution, but it will save you time later.  The CD’s are probably not compatible with some operating systems or networks.  I’m not sure they will upload to our school server.
I have seven themes from TKMB in the discussion forums of the moodle and students are asked to discuss three.  It does take a lot of time to read their discussion topics, but the classes seem to enjoy this activity.  I also have an ECA (current format 2014) essay assignment for TKMB which may be graded online.  This gives the students the opportunity to learn to attach a word document as they might be asked to do in an online course.  My first experience with this was
Text Box:  on Blackboard.
I haven’t done much with glossary myself, but science teachers have used this and assigned a term to each student.  The student then creates a project for the glossary with pictures, diagrams, essay, videos, etc. to explain the term.  This is helpful in studying for final exams or class tests.  I have also seen it done with a novel, but I have not done it myself.
One thing I especially like is being able to type in links on the Prism topic page.  Students should then stay on the page and link from there with no need to get on Explorer or Firefox and stray from the intended lesson.  Sometimes I have to replace the links because they change, but that is true of any website or online assignment. 
I created a moodle for a book club, but the recreational reading book club never got off the ground.  My idea was that students who were in the club would have access to add comments or discussion forums to books they had read.  I started a few examples with pictures of the book and my own reviews, but there has never been a time for me to add a book club to my already busy schedule.  There are many possibilities for a moodle that I have not explored. 
The Culinary Arts teacher is one of the moodle users.  She uses her moodle for recipes and has set up a system of taking food orders for The Rox Café online.  The Rox Café is a Friday “restaurant” for faculty and staff for which Culinary Arts students prepare the orders and deliver the food. 
The AP History teacher links with other AP History teachers throughout the state.  She wanted to learn how to use and set up a moodle so she could become part of her state AP network. 
Text Box:  Text Box:  Text Box: I like moodle because it is password protected and private.  My students have identities with the first letter of their name and their last name + the school corporation number (5520). This makes them unique and we do not have Jdoe5520 rejected file://localhost/Users/patkeefe/Desktop/Screen%20Shot%202014-03-17%20at%209.47.30%20PM.pngbecause there are already other Jdoes registered.  The password starts out as password at the start of the year.  Students may change the password if they choose and I can find out what their password is (if they forget it) using the people box on the moodle page.  I type each class into a separate data sheet which is on the PRISM network and then upload it. file://localhost/Users/patkeefe/Desktop/Screen%20Shot%202014-03-17%20at%209.39.19%20PM.png

I believe moodle will remain a constant.  Some software programs or servers come and go. Quite a few English teachers set up a free ning only to find out the next year that they would have to pay a fee to continue to use the network.  PRISM is funded by the Lilly Foundation and serviced by Rose-Hulman and I think after I set up my moodle that I can depend on it to remain free with trustworthy administrators that will keep it safe for students to use.  Many have jumped on the My Big Campus boat, which is currently free for schools that have paid to use Lightspeed.  But, who knows if My Big Campus will remain free or will become a paid site like the ning?  If your schools stops using Lightspeed, then you stop receiving My Big Campus free, and then you may lose your “website”.  We have a technology PD forum on My Big Campus and my experience this year is that MBC runs more slowly than PRISM. This may be due to volume of traffic using the website or how many servers are supporting MBC, but I am still more impressed with PRISM.

1 comment:

  1. Pat, I'm not able to see the images you have on there. I see that they are png's, though. How did you upload them? Did you copy/paste them or did you upload them and insert them? I have only had success with saving the images and uploading them. I want to pin this blog to my Pinterest, but I need an image to "connect" to! Let me know if you get a chance to get them on here! : >