Book Image

History Teaching with Moodle 2

Book Image

History Teaching with Moodle 2

Overview of this book

Moodle is an open source virtual learning environment that is coming to be used in more and more schools worldwide. History and Moodle complement each other perfectly in terms of content and delivery. This book will show you how to set up tasks and activities that will enable your students to forge a greater understanding of complex issues, bringing History into the 21st century.History Teaching with Moodle 2 presents new and exciting ideas for the delivery of History content making use of tried-and-trusted methods of teaching the subject. By following a sample course, you will find it easy to transform your existing lesson plans into a Moodle course that will become even more efficient, attractive, and useful over time. Make the past come to life using a range of tasks and activities that can consolidate learning for some, enhance understanding for others, and enthuse all. Learn how to add an RSS feed to your home page to display daily 'On this day in history' posts. Create a one-minute quiz about how the Second World War began. Post video footage of a trip to a castle and set some questions for students in anticipation of their next visit. Set up a wiki so that student groups can create their own story about 'murder at a monastery'. Moodle's built-in features allow students to get a better grasp of historical concepts and will rejuvenate their interest in the subject.
Table of Contents (16 chapters)

Moodle Ideal for teaching History

Moodle, the VLE in question:

  • Equips the History teacher with an array of tools that enhance good practice in the classroom

  • Extends the learning of pupils beyond the lesson

  • Creates opportunities to challenge the gifted and talented pupils

  • Captures the individual teacher's expertise so that it can be reused by others

  • Reinforces the learning that has taken place during a lesson

  • Reassures students by reflecting their own use of ICT outside the classroom

Without being prescriptive in any way, Moodle brings together an arsenal of weapons to make the teaching of History even more exciting and relevant.

It enables a teacher to radically alter the pace of a lesson through the use of a quiz or a lesson. It challenges students to make informed judgments about the work of peers in forums, blogs, workshops, and interactive discussions. It creates opportunities for collaborative work in wikis and glossaries. It captures the expertise a teacher has to offer and makes it more accessible to:

  • The quiet individual for whom the class debate is a struggle

  • The enthusiast who needs a bit more reassurance to move up to the next level

  • The talented child who finishes tasks but needs to develop the capacity to learn more independently

"History Teaching with Moodle" includes a number of assumptions, which I have made with confidence. The activities and ideas will appeal to good teachers, and it will enthuse the young teacher starting out in the profession. It will occasionally challenge the History technophobe to say, "Actually, that is not a bad idea!". Some of those mentioned above will spot Moodle's potential to harness skills and expertise and do something different with them. Others will quickly develop opportunities for themselves to be heard in conversations where it has not always been the case, in the staffroom or the classroom. And some will just pick up the ball, run with it, and see where it takes them.

One further assumption is that you are in a position to begin building a course. It could be an entire Key Stage 3 course about:

  • The Medieval Period (Year 7)

  • Renaissance, Reformation, and Revolution (Year 8)

  • Empires and World Wars (Year 9)

The course may reflect the new modular approach to teaching GCSE History. It could be based upon:

  • The Divided Union looking at Post war USA, McCarthyism, Civil Rights, and so on

  • The Germany 1918-1939 module

  • Peace and War: International Relations 1901 - 1991

The institution may have its own Virtual Learning Environment but limited contributions from the History department. Courses may not have progressed much beyond using them to host resources. Readers will hopefully be in a position to take up the teacher role to create tasks and also to test them using student accounts. If this is not the case, then it is likely that having patiently read the book, readers will be in a strong position to beat down the Senior Management's door and demand some help in getting the ball rolling. As a consequence of reading this book, the relationship with your technicians in the ICT Department will alter dramatically as the nature of requests becomes more challenging and diverse. "Is it possible to try to do this?" sounds much more interesting to an ICT technician than, "Please could you fix this!".

Moodle the Extra Dimension

So what extra dimensions does a Moodle course offer to a History teacher? A few examples can only scratch the surface, but might help.

Re-invent your worksheets

  • Transform your information sheet about key individuals from the Russian Revolution into a Random Glossary (Chapter 3) in your course. This can be done in a series of stages.

  • Create a glossary of the leading individuals from the period.

  • Display an entry from the glossary on the front page.

  • Set up the glossary so that it randomly selects a different entry from the glossary and displays it on the page.

Encourage students to collaborate

  • Use a collaborative wiki (Chapter 6) to focus on improving answers to different types of examination questions

  • Get students to write an answer to a particular question under examination conditions

  • Mark the answer, giving it a Level such as Level 1

  • Ask another student to improve it

  • Use the History tab on the wiki to view the changes that are necessary to achieve the higher level answer

Get them using forums

  • Use forums (Chapter 1) to enhance the quality of class debates

  • Set an open ended question that demands a measured response from students

  • Insist on use of sentences and paragraphs and refuse to accept 'textspeak'

  • Encourage students to comment constructively on opposing arguments

  • Use posts in a debate to raise the quality of the discussion

  • Target the confident authors and engineer a situation where the same individual has to counter his/her own argument

History teachers are familiar with open-ended questions that bring the subject to life in discussion, debate, and presentation. The same questions can be put to work alongside Moodle's tools to provide a dynamic learning experience for students. They can evaluate each other's work in a workshop or investigate key features of an event in a lesson, quiz, or wiki. The permutations are endless and the opportunities for History teachers in particular, are mouth watering.

  • Year 7, Medieval Period: What was the single most important reason for William's victory at Hastings?

  • Year 8, Renaissance, Reformation, and Revolution: Was Mary Tudor really such a bad queen?

  • Year 9, Empires and World Wars: Was the Empire a good or a bad thing?

  • Year 10, Germany 1918 -1939: Was the Reichstag fire the main reason why Hitler was able to establish a dictatorship in Germany in 1934?

  • Year 11, Cold War and International Relations: What was the main reason why Khruschev decided to place missiles in Cuba in 1962?

Creative use of tools within Moodle provides opportunities to get even more out of students because they recognize the value of the tools. Forums help them to concentrate on one reason why Hitler came to power whilst studying a collection of other reasons provided by their peers. They are thus more equipped to answer that detailed question which asks them to discuss at least three reasons and prioritize the most important.

Similarly, it becomes easier to compose an examination answer that requires explanation and discussion of more than one reason why Khruschev decided to deploy missiles in Cuba in 1962. The same forum becomes an ideal focal point for revision on the Cuban missile crisis. Students learn by doing and forums, wikis, lessons, and workshops allow them to do more whilst notionally appearing to do less. By embracing the way students use technology in everyday life, teachers are allowing them to learn in a collaborative way and in fact helping them to achieve more than they might if they simply wrote up notes from a textbook.