Christine has a keen interest in technology to support her teaching and her case study consists of two related strands: the ways in which she has adapted to technological changes in her teaching over the years; her reflections on the role of technology, specifically Moodle at the present time, with regard to her own practice. She is also interested in how it is used and perceived by her colleagues and among students. Technological change and teaching The first strand has resulted in a film documenting Christine’s ‘journey into digital literacy’: Christine traces the various technologies available to her during her teaching career. These range from flash cards, through cassette tape recorders, to BBC computers and now a VLE. The film underscores the pace of change in technology and exemplifies how these changes have impacted on teachers. This area of Christine’s professional development was dependent on her own initiative, training courses and curriculum innovation roles. The film sets the scene for Christine’s current situation, in which she makes extensive and enthusiastic use of Moodle in her teaching. Moodle: Christine’s practice The school’s languages department stores its schemes of work and associated resources on Moodle which facilitates the sharing of curriculum resources. Christine has also developed a large number of her own resources and made these available on Moodle, which she uses in her teaching. These include homework assignments, games (with different levels), quizzes and links to relevant websites. Christine has created these, some with authoring tools such as Task Magic, and draws on them both in class and for student homework. They are complemented by short instructional videos made by Christine using Camtasia which recap the necessary linguistic points or contain a practical demonstration of the task.
Christine also makes use of the open source voice recording applet NanoGongthat Christine integrates into Moodle allowing her to send mp3 files in French and Spanish for students to use for speaking and listening practice. Christine values Moodle for a number of reasons:
- it makes teaching more varied for her students, helping them with tasks such as learning vocabulary and verb endings
- the quizzes and games she has devised check how effectively students are progressing in relation to specific lesson objectives
- Using the activity report, she can see which students have completed a task, and when, and how many attempts they have had
- students’ marks are collated; this allows Christine a quick overview of their progress over the course of a school year.
- parents are able to assist in their children’s learning by looking at the resources on Moodle
Staff experiences of using Digital Technology within the language department: Christine has shared her expertise and resources with other members of staff, who have differing perceptions of new technologies and their role in teaching and learning. To find out more, she interviewed five colleagues in the languages department and the virtual school co-ordinator. They commented on their use of Moodle as a teaching tool, an administrative tool, a reference tool and as an archival tool. Gill uses Moodle with Key Stage 4 students, regarding it as a resource bank rather than as a teaching tool for classwork and homework tasks. For her, Moodle complements other methods rather than replacing them totally She believes students, especially the more able want to print off worksheets because it helps them to feel they are navigating and doing the work properly. She is concerned that Moodle can be overused, leading to students becoming disenchanted with it. Personally, she has been frustrated by limitations on the size of files that can be saved to Moodle and has had difficulties accessing the resources of others. Oliver uses Moodle to access schemes of work and associated resources as he is in his first year of teaching. Like Gill, he feels Moodle can add variety to teaching but would lose its novelty value if used too much. Oliver believes that students like doing their homework on Moodle and, as ‘children of a more technological age’, it is important that they acquire competencies relating to digital literacy. Jane has been trained in the use of Moodle but does not use it very much in her teaching; she feels that its educational benefit to students is limited. Instead she has used it to archive teaching resources and to upload past papers and listening files when absent. She has used Moodle with less able students, devising homework tasks and games around vocabulary but overall finds it time-consuming when she does use it. Helen finds Moodle particularly useful for students needing to catch up on classwork; her teaching resources, and those of her colleagues, are on Moodle. She keeps resources up to date and likes the fact that they are all in one place and can be shared. She monitors how the programme of work is progressing from one term to the next but is not in the habit of setting homework on Moodle as she, is not confident that all students can use it effectively. She suggests that the students need dedicated ‘how to use Moodle lessons’ and then all the teachers could become involved in reinforcing the use of the VLE. Beatrice uses Moodle with Key Stage 3 students, mostly for homework to make tasks more interesting and has sometimes used Moodle to plan her lessons. She recognises that some students find it difficult to access Moodle from home and accommodates them by providing printouts. The advantages are that Moodle allows her to monitor the work students have done and when they have done it and it enables them to see feedback; it also reduces the risk of work getting lost! She thinks that students enjoy using Moodle and respond to the use of technology; when she uses it for quizzes the students do ‘engage’. For Christine, the case study led to an increased awareness of Moodle as a digital technology for teaching within her department and encouraged a move towards incorporating other technologies that provide more agency for students. The case study also gave insight into staff perceptions relating to professional development in the area of digital literacy. The school plan to disseminate their work primarily through digital means, by posting the film on YouTube using Twitter and ICT blogs to promote it, with a target of getting 500 views within three months. It will also be promoted through promote the School and Teaching School Alliance website and it will be available at Teaching School new technology events in 2012/13, giving p a chance to meet Christine and talk about her work.