MAXIMIZING LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (LMS) IN HIGER EDUCATION; AN ELT CASE Gumawang Jati ITB Abstract The rapid development of e-learning and the use of Learning Management System (LMSmoodle) have triggered some universities and schools in Indonesia to develop teaching and learning in a LMS using moodle platform. However, most of their e-learning materials or contents are still underused the powerful interface available in the LMS. LMS-moodle was designed based on social constructionist philosophy (www.moodle.org). The social constructionist philosophy believes that people learn best when they interact with the learning material, construct new material for others, and interact with other students about the material (Wilson, 1997). Moodle offers three rich interfaces, for teaching and learning activities; interface for static course material, interactive course materials and student activities (Singh, 2003). The experience in using some interfaces and putting some teaching and learning materials for teaching Critical Reading will be shared and discussed (http://gumawang.freewebclass.com). Research finding on students’ response about the online materials and how the teacher conduct the teaching using the LMS will be presented and the result of the survey is used for designing new Learning Management Interface, and developing online learning materials (http://www.bandungtalentsource.com/online). Steps in developing the online materials for English will be discussed in detail along with the problems encountered during the process. The steps includes; preplanning, planning, online material development consideration, mapping the work, content designed and writing, testing and final checking and evaluation. Key words; Learning Management System, online material development, moodle Introduction Teaching English has continued using multimedia to evolve from its inception. In the beginning, tape recorders, videos, computers, and CD, have been used to teach English in the classroom. The most recent entry into the delivery category of teaching English is web-based teaching and learning activities along with their rapid developments. Universities around the world have been implementing and upgrading course delivery systems for years. Some universities in Indonesia have also implemented e-learning through the Learning Management System called ‘moodle’ for the last decade. Moodle (an acronym for the Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is popular because it facilitates online content creation and collaboration and entails various social and communication tools that support teacher-student, student-student, and teacher-teacher interactions. Therefore, Moodle is often seen as the main contributor for the delivery of high-quality education through the provision of a complete set of tools. Philosopyh of Moodle Moodle, is one of the popular open source software packages that facilitates the design and creation of online courses (Moodle, 2005). It has been developed by Martin Dougiamas as part of his PhD in Education thesis (Moodle, 2005). Due to being an open source software, Moodle is free to download, use, modify, and even distribute and sell (under GNU General Public License), all with no license fee.
The underlying philosophy of Moodle is maximum instructor control and minimal administrator control (Moodle, 2005). Once the course area is created in Moodle, the instructor manages its materials with minimal (if any) assistance by the administrator (Moodle, 2005). The instructor has also control over which course pages and files to publish (Moodle, 2005). An administrative documentation, a teacher's manual, and documentation created by other users are available on Moodle’s web site. In addition, the instructor in Moodle can moderate or facilitate discussions and activities in ways that help students participate in online dialogues related to the course learning goals (Coppola & Neelley, 2004) One of the main advantages of Moodle is that its underpinning pedagogy is social constructivism that supports role sharing and enables each participant to be a teacher as well as a learner (Bonk, 2007). Before proceeding with these different constructivist theories, it may be useful to briefly mention the characteristics of constructivism. According to constructivism, learning is an active rather than passive process where new insights are developed and knowledge is based on what one already knows (Kanuka & Anderson, 1998). As the teachers scaffold and organize information into conceptual clusters of problems, new conflicting experiences cause “perturbations in the knowledge structures (Driscoll, 2000). Constructivist strategies such as problem-solving, critical thinking, reasoning and the reflective use of knowledge can be effectively implemented via the interactive environments provided by the computers (Driscoll, 2000). Two of the several different constructivist-learning theories that are related to web-based learning are cognitive or critical constructivism and social constructivism. To begin with, social constructivism is a closely related set of ideas that focus on the individual development of meaning through communication and the active construction and sharing of social artefacts, including texts rather than receiving them passively from the environment (Dougiamas, 2000). Through conversational language used in a social context the emerging patterns are negotiated into meaning and the construct of the “zone of proximinal development” is bridged via deeper learning (Vygotsky, 1990). Within the context of a textbased environment, it is believed that these collaboration and sharing processes increase the quality of dialogue between participants as a tool to construct knowledge (Dougiamas, M., 2000) and make learners get apprenticed into "communities of practice" which embody certain beliefs and behaviours (Lave & Wenger, 1991). A dialogue within these communities of practice is an exchange of information that takes place either directly via a semiotic medium such as language and other signs, or indirectly via tools such as computer interfaces (LeFoe, 1998). Computer softwares, such as web sites, can be considered as both a tool and a language in terms of the medium. Moreover, throughout the literature it is often asserted that Moodle enables learners to become active creators of knowledge rather than being passive recipients of knowledge. By inventing their own ideas, students are placed at the center of active learning. As their ideas gain in complexity and power (Gullo, 1999) multiple perspectives or interpretations of reality, knowledge construction, context-rich and experience-based activities" (Jonassen, 1991) are supported via learning envionments. Still another learning theory within the framework of constructivism is the cognitive or critical constructivism where knowledge is constructed through the interactions of the student with their corresponding socio-cultural environment rather than through the interactions with other people as is the case in social constructivism (Dougiamas, 2000). New experiences cause the cognitive schemas.
Blended learning; Critical Reading class (a case) One of the main reasons for using Moodle was a shift toward the teaching approaches that combine both face-to-face and online learning environments, when teaching Critical Reading (2 credits). A free website which offers moodle platform is used (www.gumawang.freewebclass.com). There were 268 ITB undergraduate, non English Department students enrolled in the online course. The materials presented in the website were, lecture notes in the form of PowerPoint presented in the class; videos links to youtube relevant to the topic discussed in the class; quizzes; assignments and reading texts relevant to the topic discussed. In other words, three rich interfaces, for teaching and learning activities; interface for static course material, interactive course materials and student activities (Singh, 2003) were utilized. Some of the moodle features were not utilized, such as discussion forum, forum, and chat facilities because the students could do the interaction offline. Weekly template from moodle was used to place the materials, so that the students could follow the sequence easily (see picture 1)
Picture 1 The materials were uploaded to the website a week before the class so that the students could access the materials and made some necessary preparation for class activities. The presentation of the teaching and learning materials was plain and no pictures so that the page can be accessed easily. When the students have problems in accessing the page or unclear instructions, they can always email the teacher. In this case the classroom meeting could be more focused on discussions of the issues and questions from students. Students’ responses toward the online materials and the teaching In finding out the students’ responses, a questionnaire covering the webpage navigation and layout, the course and the teacher was distributed to 268 students at the end of the semester 1, 2011. The students’ responses to the first part of the questionnaire, by circling the number which best matches students’ opinion on a scale of 0 to 5, where 0 indicates, strongly disagree with the statement, and 5 means strongly agree with the statement. No Statement 0 1 2 3 4 5 1 I was able to navigate the course Web pages 92% 8% with ease. 2 My first impression of the web page was 22% 60% 18%
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
positive. I was able to interact with my instructor effectively I was able to review the lesson at any time I was able to download lecture’s note I was able to download tasks, assignments and notes I was able to post my assignments, and tasks The web links were relevant and interesting. The assignments were interesting and relevant to the course and the ‘real world’.
14% 56% 22% 16% 26% 68% 30% 50% 12% 88%
10% 90% 15% 45% 30% 10% 10% 15% 35% 25% 15%
An informal random interview was conducted to cross check the result of the questionnaire. Navigation, impression, and interaction of the web were not an issue. Some students had problem in downloading lecture’s note due to the format of some notes. They were written using adobe captivate 6 which required adobe flash 7 or higher. In general the links were interesting. Some students found that some assignments were not relevant to their interest and field of study. The second part of the questionnaire was about the course itself, and the result; No Statement 0 1 2 3 4 5 10 The course was educational 20% 50% 22% 8% 11 The course was intellectually challenging 14% 76% 10% From the interview, when students had to read articles on similar issues and then write a respond to the issues, some students found that this activity was challenging. Some of the students found that the multiple choice online exercises were challenging. These two questions were not valid. The words ‘educational’ and ‘intellectually challenging’ in the questionnaire should be followed up with interviews to get better result. The third part of the questionnaire was about the teaching; No Statement 0 1 12 The instructor used effective teaching methods 13 The instructor was well prepared for the class 14 The instructor provided opportunities for collaboration 15 The instructor was accessible to students by email 16 Any comments and suggestion to make the learning better?
3 22% 22% 22%
4 44% 60% 56%
5 34% 18% 22%
From the interview with the students, in general they are happy with the blended learning, especially when they were given the freedom to do the tasks and assignment on their own time. Comments and suggestions from the students mostly dealing with the layout, they wanted to have more animated buttons, more pictures and more interactive exercises. With the minimum programming knowledge, It can be concluded that moodle has the potential features to deliver learning materials.
E-learning Content Development With the above experience and observation, the writer carried out an experiment in developing an online learning (English for Communication 1) with minimum face to face interaction and published at http://www.bandungtalentsource.com/online. This experiment was carried out with a team effort, who may or may not be involved in the teaching. Some of the reasons for this relate to the particular nature of online materials, for example:
Good online teaching and learning involves various forms of interactivity and consideration needs to be given to how to effectively design and develop the resources that make best use of the medium, have the right blend of activities, motivational, accessible, and effective educationally.
Communication and interaction between students is an important part of effective online learning and has implications for material content development and may need the involvement of special expertise to build this successfully into the online course or learning content.
Technical issues play a far bigger role in the development on online content. The reflection of the online learning material development process is presented from preplanning, planning to evaluation, feedback and redevelopment.
Pre-planning Before starting the process of material development, establishing the right team, in terms of balance of skills and ability to work together is a key success factor. The range of skills which might be represented includes: instructional design content matter expertise technical expertise
A common issue is the under-estimation of both the financial and time resources required for online content development. Plenty of time is needed for coordination meeting and brain storming ideas. Planning The planning phase is probably the most important. Steps involved include: Articulating learning objectives – being clear about and communicating to others in the project team the learning aims and objectives. This includes what teachers want the students to see, do, and experience, as well as learning outcomes.
Characterizing Student requirements – knowing the intended audience, their circumstance, and particular needs.
Locating and assessing existing learning resources – what materials are available in the university or school, what is available that can be used or adapted, what quality they are and can be used as part of the content. Finding out who else has done similar work that can be learned from.
Identifying the need for new content and technical considerations, constraints and possibilities – this needs to be done from the outset and will affect both the design and the scope of the development.
Online material development considerations Things might need to be investigated further that may need to be included in the development activities include: Copyright compliance management – knowing the copyright regulations for online. How copyright permissions should be sought and kept track off. Management of intellectual property – this is about protecting ownership of articles
used or material developed. Mostly ownership belongs with an institution or with the organization funding the development but there are sometimes exceptions particularly when multiple parties are involved. Collaboration – If the project involve other people or organizations in other
departments, or externally, clear agreement should be made. Content design and writing In this phase the processes are often concurrent and iterative. Processes and steps might differ between organizations and for different projects, but broadly steps include:
Establishing the assessment criteria and methods by which students will demonstrate skills, attributes, and understanding. Online offers many more options than a lot of people think. Time spent exploring options here can open up many more ideas for presenting content, and is more likely to produce meaningful and integrated assessment embedded within learning activities.
Mapping and then sequencing the key elements of the content.
Applying instructional design effective for online. This includes choosing appropriate teaching strategies; presentation considerations; and building in scaffolding that will support the learners move to independent thinking as they become more familiar with the topic and the medium which is very important to do when learners are not in a face-to-face situation. Technical or multi-media decisions, includes deciding what should be presented on screen and what should be down loaded/printable.
Deciding which key content, and needs reinforcement, what material can become secondary links, and which comes under the heading of supplementary or additional learning resources.
Doing a walk-through and check on time allocations for each learning activity; congruence between assessment and learning objectives and learning content and learning tasks; clarity; and completeness. Defining and providing for the learning support needs of the students, and also for teachers if the material is to be used by others.
Materials development This phase takes the material produced in the writing and planning phases and turns it into product. It can either be done during or immediately after the content planning and writing phase, but in either case close liaison should occur between writers and the developers (if these are different people) throughout these stages. This phase includes producing the physical product producing any accompanying documentation such as user guides, implementation guides. Testing and final checking
This stage is an important phase. All the efforts above are of little value if the product is not accessible and usable. Consideration of usability factors actually begins in the planning phase but it should be formally tested during prototyping, then following full production. The importance of testing and considering the usability factors cannot be over-stressed. Evaluation, feedback and redevelopment Evaluation is a positive step that can provide good feedback on the effectiveness of the product. This feedback can enable fine-tuning of the product. It also provides valuable feedback to the production team on ways future development outputs can be improved. Conclusion The rapid development of e-learning and the use of LMS (moodle) have triggered some universities and schools in Indonesia to develop e-learning. However, most of their elearning materials or contents are still underused the powerful features available in the LMS and in developing the materials remains the work of individual teacher. This paper has elaborated the digital materials (content) development based on the writerâ€™s experience in developing e-learning website with a team published at www.bandungtalentsource.com/online. In designing digital material development; preplanning, planning, online material development consideration, mapping the work, content designed and writing, material development, testing and final checking and evaluation are essential steps to produce good educational e-learning. References; Bonk, C. J. & Cunningham, D. J. (1998). Searching for learner-centered, constructivist, and sociocultural components of collaborative educational learning tools. In Curtis J. Bonk & Pan Coppola, C., & Neelley, E. (2004). Open source â€“ opens learning. The R-Smart Group, http://www.rsmart.com/assets/OpenSourceOpensLearningJuly2004.pdf Dougimas, M. (2000). Improving the effectiveness of tools for Internet based education. Teaching and Learning Forum 2000. Proceedings Contents. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2000/dougiamas.html Dougimas, M. & Taylor, P.C. (2000). Moodle: Using learning communities to create an open source course management system. Edmedia. http://dougiamas.com/writing/edmedia2003/ Driscoll, M. P. (2000). Psychology of learning for instruction (2nd ed.). Needleham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Gullo, D. (1999). Integrating computers in the constructivist classroom: Enrich your students learning environment with computers. http://pd.l2l.org/Confcen/aect/gullo.htm Jonassen, D., Peck, K. & Wilson, B. (1999). Learning with technology: A constructivist perspective. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, Inc. In Everett, Richard (2002).
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