Create a Module for Individualized Learning using Moodle Lessons
Rebecca Montgomery teaches Forest Ecology (FNRM 3104/5104). The course is required in the Forest Ecosystem Management and Conservation (FEMC) and Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) tracks, and is an option in the Park and Protected Area Management (PPAM) track in the Forest and Natural Resource Management major. Available for both undergraduate and graduate credit, it attracts students of widely varying backgrounds and levels of preparation.
Montgomery needed to ensure that everyone was equally prepared for in-class work, but didn’t want to use valuable in-class time. Moreover, Montgomery was moving toward a blended learning environment, in which didactic content is moved online, and class time is used for synthesis and application of basic concepts.
With design support from Academic Technology Support Services (ATSS), Montgomery created the learning module “Oak Savannas and Soils” using the Moodle Lesson tool.
"There are lots of different tools that can move content out of the classroom, to allow synthesis and analysis and applications in the classroom. I chose the Lesson tool to...take advantage of the fact that we can present images, text, and have knowledge assessments embedded within [it]. Just doing a reading doesn't have such a rich array of different media."
The module she designed provided content in the form of text, images, embedded video, and links to outside resources. At intervals, students answered a series of ungraded questions to test their understanding (formative assessment). After completing the module, students took a graded Moodle Quiz (summative assessment) on the material, comprising questions from the embedded self-tests.
"I like the embedded quizzing within Moodle: all of those self-assessment questions then could become part of a final assessment. Students were studying by taking a quiz."
The modules are structured for students with different academic backgrounds and levels of knowledge. Students who are less familiar with the material can take their time, and return to concepts with which they are less familiar. Students with prior knowledge can move more quickly or even skip material they already know well.
The module provided content in the form of text, images, embedded video, and links to outside resources, and was structured to meet students with different academic backgrounds and levels of knowledge.
Montgomery was surprised by the time and intellectual effort required to pull together all the components. Or as she puts it, transferring knowledge from "your computer and your brain into this lesson format."
One benefit of all this work was realized when she reviewed the graded quiz shortly before class:
"I was able to go in and look at everybody's scores and I could see which questions people struggled with, and was able then go over that material again in class and be able to address in a very targeted way where people were not getting it. I really like using the Lesson tool in conjunction with a Quiz. It was summative for them, but it also informed me. I was able to use it do just-in-time teaching in the class session before we moved into problem-solving that day."
Montgomery has not yet conducted an extensive evaluation of the module. On one informal measure, at least, the module seemed to have been effective. Montgomery asked her students to write down the "Muddiest Point" regarding the module content. She was delighted to find that the students had very few issues - they got it!