One neat and simple feature that Moodle has is a glossary. (I’m sure you could replicate this functionality easily enough using other features of other VLEs).

The glossary lets the teacher or students put definitions of words, hence the name glossary. As it’s such a simple and easy to understand tool it’s one I have started classes using early. It also makes for a great homework and it’s easy to explain to other teachers how to use. As with all pupil generated content I’ve found the results mixed and surprising but very positive. Below are a few examples of glossary entries (not all from my classes). As you can see they range from the sublime to the ridiculous. I think the silly entries are just as valid as the serious entries. If my students log on to see the funny entry their friend wrote they are more than likely to take a browse through all of the other definitions and maybe learn something new.

I’ve not put up the inevitable glossary entries with mistakes in. These too are valuable, I can both edit and comment on posts. By leaving a comment with feedback students can learn from their mistakes and improve their entries. Assessment for learning in action!

AS English Frankenstein Glossary Entries – these two are rather impressive

Gothic: A story of terror or suspense which includes reference to the supernatural

Romanticism: Romanticism is a movement that typically refers to the late 18th and 19th century. The period was marked by a rejection of the ideals and rules of the time and new emphasis was placed on freedom of expression and thought.

Romantics were against the monarchy and against the industrial revolution. They thought that the industrial revolution would destroy and pollute nature, and that people would move away from the countryside and nature.
Romantic ideas: nature; the relationship between human and natural moods; experimentation; journeying; power of the female; genius and the power of imagination, spontaneity; and individualism.

Quotes:

  • “Vivid flashes of lightning dazzled my eyes and illuminated the lake, making it appear like a vast sheet of fire.” (p56)
  • “black and comfortless sky” (p40)

Year 9 ICT Entries:

Keyboard :QWERTY or otherwise, it is used to type letters and numbers – wholly useful for general computing.

Hands: the things you find on the end of your arm. They usually have 5 fingers on each

useful for:
1] typing
2] hitting your computer when its being stupid and purposly annoying you
3] throwing things at annoying siblings
4] stealing peoples shoes to put in high places

Year 12 Chemistry:

OILRIG:
OILRIG is the ingenious way to remember that:
Oxidation Is Loss (of electrons)
Reduction Is Gain (of electrons)

Redox is both (Reduction and oxidation squashed together to make one word)

Setting up custom fields on users’ personal profile is really easy. The standard fields in a moodle install are things like skype, msn, icq, e-mail, website. I felt a bit uneasy about encouraging students to put in all of those personal details which I or the school could have no control over, particularly personal websites which may contain personal pictures. So I hid all of those fields (apart from e-mail as an e-mail address is very important for teacher student communication and students can choose for it to be private). Instead I included fields for “favourite music”, “hobbies”, “favourite tv shows”, “favourite movies”, “favourite books” and a more general “about me”. I don’t believe a school VLE will become a replacement for myspace, facebook or other social networking sites (and I’m not sure I’d want it to be) but having these fields does add a much more personal and social dynamic to the site. There’s a little bit of competition from students to see who can have the best profile. It’s also great from a teacher’s perspective to see what students are interested in. Some students have also made great efforts to customise the top part of the profile with photos and animations.

I’ve included some screenshots below of a couple of profiles (one is mine, can you guess which one?) Moodle 1.9 has a new social tagging system but it’s not quite as organised as my solution with just one box for students to write all their interests in, the new features it brings will certainly be interesting to explore.

Nb: Even if standard fields are hidden students can override this or put any information they wish in the top “description” part of their profile – there may be a way to turn this off but it’s probably easier having a set of rules that students need to follow.

profile fields

student profile

What does your name mean?

Posted on March 20th, 2008 in moodle, rickypedia, VLE | 3 Comments »

This month is the first birthday of rickypedia.org. Rickypedia is the inspired name I registered for our school’s Moodle VLE. The best thing about the name is that it wasn’t my idea. Last year while spending regular lunchtimes with year 8 students in webdesign club some students decided to make a page about the local area and call it rickypedia (our school is based in Rickmansworth and commonly referred to as Ricky school) . The website was never quite completed but I thought the name was great. When it came to setting up a VLE Rickypedia was the name I decided to go with. (Rikipedia was already taken by someone else!) Thanks to Lawrence, Ed, Jo and the others who came up with the idea!

Looking around at schools’ VLEs as I often do I can’t believe how many have long hard to remember URLs (eg vle.mylongschoolname.mylea.sch.uk). Not only does a short and snappy URL make a website easier to type in, it also makes it easier to remember and most importantly gives it an identity. Here’s a few examples I’ve come across, not all have great URLs, not all have great names, but they’ve all got identities!
Chuckle 2.0 http://vle.carrhill.lancs.sch.uk/
Merapolis http://merapolis.co.uk/
Doodlehub http://doodlehub.co.uk/
http://www.thsvle.co.uk
http://www.mgsvle.org.uk/
http://www.mgscentral.org/

If you’ve not got a domain for your VLE why not give it a try? It costs about £8 a year for .com .org .net address or £4 a year for a org.uk .co.uk address. Why not hold a competition at school to see what ideas the students come up with? If you’ve any great ideas or examples post them below (but maybe register them first in case someone borrows your idea!)