At the iMoot, I attended a session by Vinny Stocker about the use of roles in Moodle. It’s something I know some stuff about but can always learn more. So I settled in to learn some tips and techniques.
After a minute or two, I nearly fell out of my chair: Vinny led off with his learning objectives. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in a conference presentation. Wow.
So then we went along and looked at some tips and techniques. And then he did it again: he stopped and asked us to do some reflection. Gave us time to think. And ask questions. Again, wow. I have occasionally seen this type of thing in conferences, but then Vinny weirded me out again. He actually listened. He responded to our reflections. He answered our questions. He followed up on our comments. Usually a presenter will use this time as a water break. Not Vinny.
So then he started going through spiel again, and I lapsed back into usual presentation mode. It happened again. Vinny announced that we’d do a “think-pair-share.” And used the tool we were in (Big Blue Button – great stuff, folks!) and had us choose a partner and start chatting. Dammit, but it actually worked (despite the typical international bandwidth glitches – my laptop chose that time to drop connection). And again he followed up on it. And then gave us an actual task that we had to accomplish.
Cripes, would someone tell Vinny Stocker that a presenter’s job is not to teach but to blather on while we check our Facebook pages?!?!!!
Seriously, I’ve blogged before about experts taking the “do as I say, not as I do” route – it’s a refreshing experience to have an Expert Presenter actually model what teachers should be doing. It seems to me that people who organize conferences and school PD (are you listening to me, Julian? Katherine?) should require presenters (especially paid Experts, but also dopey volunteers like me) to actually model the techniques we want our teachers to use.
You know, to actually teach.
Thanks, Vinny. Now you’ve gone and made me make more work for myself. Have to try to keep up with the standard you just set.
During one of his presentations at iMoot, Julian Ridden showed a slide from a presentation in Germany stating, “Moodle ist hasslïch.” His point was that many Moodle courses are ugly: boring lists of PDF, PDF, PDF, quiz. He then showed a well-designed Moodle course (lots of graphics – appealing & inviting) and another slide, “Moodle ist wunderschön.”
I heard that phrase – “Moodle ist hasslïch” – and understood it a different way: Moodle IS ugly. There are all kinds of blocks and activities and settings and options. You have to search for the page that shows the thing you want, the default way of dealing with things is text-based and simplistic …you have to work at it.
I posted something like this in the chat session, and Shalimar came back with:
If you’re looking for a rose & seeing a bee, it’s ugly. If you’re looking for a way to propogate flowers, a bee is divine.
Yes! Indeed, yes.
You see, to me the fact that Moodle is kind of ugly makes it all the more valuable. If Moodle were all beautiful and slick and perfect, it couldn’t be adapted. It couldn’t be customized. It couldn’t be personalized. Even if it could be, you wouldn’t want to because it’s perfect and beautiful. You wouldn’t want to mess with perfection.
I’ve said it before that open source software isn’t easy. It can be ugly. It might need tweaks. But with all that comes freedom and ability to change things. Moodle has all of that in spades and that’s one reason why I love it. With Moodle, you can build a course or a school VLE almost any way you want. Sure, you might have to work a bit to get it, but anything valuable is worth putting some effort into.
I’m amazed and delighted at how social and connected an online conference like iMoot is. Here I sit at my desk, working on my computer. I’m chatting with people & joking with people, trading stories and photos and such. I’ve been praised and argued with, validated and questioned. I’ve been quoted & I’ve quoted others.
Yes, this is all Web2.0 and stuff but it just is great that here’s this online group of people – none of whom have I actually met – and we are really connecting. What fun. What a joy.
Today started the opening of iMoot 2013 – a 4-day, round the clock online conference with presentations from teachers and techies around the world showing how to use Moodle better. It’s an exciting and engaging experience …and I’m particularly glad to be back participating in the conference this year.
I first attended iMoot in 2011. I’d been pushing for Moodle to be used more widely in school as we expanded our use of technology. There’s not a lot of relevant PD available in Ethiopia and I don’t always have the time during holidays to attend conferences. So I was delighted to have access to online training. The sessions were inspiring and very informative – it was a really great experience.
Everything went so smoothly that I signed up to present and advertised the conference widely in school. Other teachers signed up, I got my presentation ready …and then it happened. In my many years, I’ve often had to shrug and use the old saying, AWA (“Africa Wins Again”), or the local variant: TIE (“This is Ethiopia”). Rarely has it been so frustrating. Technical difficulties – the details of which I will not go into – meant that not only could I not present, but I couldn’t even watch the presentations. I scrambled to have something on offer & created a Moodle course with recorded videos so that participants could have something to take away …and then I walked away. I couldn’t face Twitter or anything that week – I didn’t want to see/hear about what a great conference it was. Painful.
So this year, I cautiously approached iMoot. Waited to try out the test room for presentations before shelling out my money and advertising it to colleagues. Tried not to get excited about it in case it all went pear-shaped again. And then…
Pow! First workshop was brilliant. Second even better. And and and… new ideas, inspiration, connections… I’m back, iMoot! Let’s GO!