2010 marks a major turning point in e-learning at Caroline Chisholm College. With the help of my IT Manager and a little support from open source communities, our humble systemic Catholic school is now at the forefront of e-learning as a successful Moodle website.
Moodle is a massive undertaking for any school, let alone a typical budget-conscious systemic catholic school. Part of my journey as a coordinator has been to find out some of the many ways in which an e-learning tool like Moodle enables teachers to work smarter.
The high point of this journey so far emerged today in Period 3, when my Connected Learning class – along with several others – completed the 2009 NAPLAN (national literacy test in Australia) test completely online, using Moodle’s GIFT format. What would have amounted to well over 15 hours of work setting the test manually, photocopying, marking and collating results was streamlined into a little under 3 hours. This of course is leaving aside the fact that now the online test can be easily duplicated, exported and repeated as necessary – all with no marking.
The clincher in this story comes in the time teachers now have to act as professionals. Why should I be sitting for hours manually marking a multiple choice test of which a machine is perfectly capable? Why not use that time to make intelligent, informed decisions as a tertiary-trained professional?
Groups set up intelligently allow me to access not only the results for my class, but results for key ability groups (I have used previous test data to establish ability groups ranging from 1-4 with colour-codes).
An item analysis for Kenny-Red (my low language ability group) tells me that these students struggle forming sentences with more than one type of punctuation. In the above case, only 29% of Kenny-Red students were able to rewrite the sentence Go away! Can’t you see that she’s upset? with correct use of exclamation and question marks. As a group, this is now something I can effectively work on in future lessons (while I set different work for my top group, Kenny-Blue).
Of course, the big challenge is convincing many teachers that this is the smarter way to work. Odd though it seems, there are in fact some teachers who see all of this and still choose to manually set and mark the test. I guess old habbits die hard, eh?