By Emily Krstulic
The Des Moines Register recently wrote about a fifth-grade class at Rolling Green Elementary School using Moodle to enhance their researching projects. The website, whose name is an abbreviation of “Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment”, is a virtual learning environment created by teachers for teachers. It brings together web links, online activities, presentations and course documents, to name a few, creating an online platform that allows teachers to guide their students’ research. The fifth-grade class, who was studying constellations, could download class documents from Moodle and then create their presentation on PowerPoint or on a poster board.
The students said they loved working on the computers, and they represent a larger trend of using new technologies in the classroom (one that prompted Moodle’s creation). Students living in an actively technological world are used to always being connected. Smartphones keep us online at any given moment, and texting has made communication lightning fast. Instead of blocking these social media and networking sites, schools are starting to utilize them to foster learning and participation within the classroom.
Just as the fifth graders loved accessing their online learning community, other students are finding benefits in using online resources. Middle schools in Waukee are regularly using blogging as a part of their writing curriculum with great results, with the students actually excited to write and respond to each others’ work. And blogging is one of the more basic curriculum implementations that schools are trying out. Schools in the Lee’s Summit School District in Lee’s Summit, Missouri have a whole portion of their planning and curriculum dedicated to “Digital Media“.
This trend is a long time coming. If students are more and more technologically connected every day, then why not utilize those connections to further their learning? A simple Google search will yield countless lists of ideas on how to use Twitter and Facebook in the classroom. Just as the fifth-graders at Rolling Greens were more excited about doing research because of Moodle, middle and high school students can interact with their learning on sites like Twitter and Facebook, where they’re already actively engaged and knowledgeable.
What do you think? Is it possible to use social websites, like Twitter or Facebook, and blogging sites to engage students, or will this just encourage distractions?