Who’s heard of Moodle (homepage)?
If you want to incorporate online technologies in your Drama program (or any other subject, for that matter), then Moodle (explanation, history etc.) is for you!
Don’t stress, even if you’re a self-confessed technophobe, this baby is easy to understand.
And no. Age is no barrier. It’s never too late to learn. In fact, the older you are, the more respect you’ll probably earn from your students for trying out technology with them.
Moodle is basically an online e-learning program (website) with a database hidden behind it that stores teacher and student information. In Moodle, students and teachers log on with a password and activities include forum postings, chat room conferencing, assignment postings, lesson content online, puzzles, glossaries, wikis (where students collectively edit posted information in real time) and workshops where students offer peer assessment of each other’s material. Added features include calendars for upcoming events and of course, the ability to link to other documents on the web.
The easiest way to get started is to check out the link to Moodle above, pass the information on to the technology gurus/techs at your educational institution and ask them to download and install the latest version on the school’s Internet server. From there, start playing with it and in on time you’ll have an online supported Drama course up and running. Best of all, your students will love it!
Moodle is open source software, which means it is a non-commerical product, totally free to use and can be modified to suit your needs, if you know how. There are a few other programs out there similar to Moodle, but Moodle is easy to use and besides, I’m biased, as Moodle was developed by Australian Martin Dougiamis in 1999.
I read an article a week ago in the New York Times that clearly explained that students, teachers and parents who do not embrace technology today wherever possible, will be left behind very, very quickly.
Most important is the ability to experiment with new and emerging technologies. 7th graders are doing podcasts, classes are messing with online blogs all over the world and having the ability to do a PowerPoint presentation is now considered as difficult as opening a Microsoft Word document! So technology is not getting harder, it’s just getting better and more interesting.
My current goal is to teach myself how to do an online blog and a podcast. I’d been avoiding the blog for a few months and a week ago it took me five minutes to set it up on Blogger and fifteen minutes later I’d published my first post on the blog you are reading now. That easy. No special knowledge of technology required. A wizard took me through a few simple steps and within no time the blog was a happenin’ thing!
So if you teach Drama, what’s wrong with using a blog as a replacement for a paper Drama journal? Whether it be at regular intervals or just for a small time during a special performance project, students can use the blog as their reflective tool. Information is never lost. Online servers back up stored information daily behind the scenes. It’s better than the old version of a Drama journal, surely?
As for podcasts … not that hard, but a tiny bit more time and effort is involved than setting up a blog. When I’ve mastered podcasting in a few weeks time, I’ll throw up a post on how to use podcasts with your students in Drama as well.