Melissa Giddins

Exploring technology and literacy in education.

Moodle’s Virtual Staffroom

The next Moodle challenge for me was how to utilise the Virtual Staffroom on Moodle. I asked myself some questions to try to work out what its purpose should be and therefore what I needed to put in it. My questions were simple:

  • What would my staff go to a virtual staffroom for?
  • How could a virtual staffroom make their lives easier?
  • How could a virtual staffroom support them in their
    • teaching and learning?
    • utilisation of moodle?
    • professional development?

Simple questions, but I am not sure that I have a complete handle on them yet. Why? Because I made a stupid mistake: I thought about this – I didn’t ask my staff! I wanted to provide them with a resource as quickly as possible and having limited time, simply created it when I had the time and inspiration struck. I have, of course, since asked for feedback, but in retrospect I wish I had allowed time for a brainstorming faculty meeting where we all talked about the answers to those simple questions.

So what went on the virtual staffroom? First some background. The DERNSW laptops connect beautifully to the internet service provided by the DET, what they don’t connect to yet is our school network where all our information is stored.

Thus, my first step in setting up the virtual staffroom was the provision of our resources that we need access to on a regular basis, on the web-based Moodle so that all staff could access our resources. So I started by adding the following: programs, Assessment Schedules, Proformas for assessment tasks and reports, whole school organisation information including rosters, exam schedules and reporting deadlines, etc. While I was at it I provided links to all of the Board of Studies pages for the syllabus information for the four KLAs in my faculty.

Next step was to think about it as a communication tool. I created a “daily noticeboard” topic and within that there are announcements, deadlines, assessment task notification reminders, events and information regarding the latest updates to the virtual staffroom. I also created a topic to keep the faculty memos and minutes within. Scrolling through my files I realised that I had copies of all the professional development information that I had used in 2009 and that which I had used so far this year in faculty meetings. So I created a topic called Professional Development and I added copies of all the professional development information I had used with, or provided to, the faculty from the beginning of 2009.

Then I felt free to start exploring the virtual staffroom as a place to provide resources, ideas and inspiration. I created a Technology Tips topic and am adding a website of the week each week to expose staff to new ideas and new Web 2.0 resources.  This came from a conversation I had at a project workshop recently. A group of us were talking about edmodo and glogster amongst other resources and one of the teachers just looked at me and asked how I knew about all those resources and wondered out loud if she had been living under a rock recently! I realised that my faculty may feel exactly the same way, so I decided on the Website of the Week to gradually introduce new sites and ideas in such a way as to not be overwhelming.

Next I added Literacy Resources, Laptop Resources, Teaching Resources and Moodle instructions and information. Within those sections are interactive websites, videos, instructions, lesson plans, articles, blog posts, powerpoints, word docs and pdf files.  I would love to give the link here for people to have a look at it, but of course it is passworded and private!

The feedback from my staff so far has been minimal with one negative comment: “one more place we have to look at and check” and one positive “even a techno-idiot like me can use it!” and mostly silence about it. I have asked how they feel but get mostly smiles and nods complete with “great” and “fine”, which makes me feel like I need a more structured form of feedback so that I can get some real information back. One surprise came from a staff member who is reluctant to use technology, explaining how useful the virtual staffroom is and that she is now checking it on an almost daily basis. The real surprise though came from her extolling its virtues to teachers and Head Teachers at another school, who now wish to come and visit me and look at the virtual staffroom to see how they can set up a similar one at their own schools. Maybe what I am doing is working after all…

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May 13, 2010 - Posted by | Moodle |

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