Social constructivism, Networking netiquette, Peer assessment, SEAL, coursework, homework support, Literacy skills… you name it, Our Lady’s Preston Assistant Headteacher Mark Greenwood’s Moodle course has it! Since September, Mark, who has responsiblity for the school’s Moodle VLE, has been using a social format course with his KS3 and KS4 interacting together. “It started with just my Year 7 class, ” explains Mark; “I wanted to give them a chance to express themselves and how to communicate online appropriately. We also have a very strong emphasis on literacy and this was an opportunity to steer them towards posting in correct English rather than text speak.” With a free rein on subject matter, the Year 7s took to it with gusto, posting about their favourite websites, favourite games, gauging opinions on reality shows. After a while Mark decided to bring in his K34 classes as gentle moderators, responding to any Year 7 whose post displayed 0 replies and bringing the conversations back on track. Mark uses group avatars to distinguish between the year groups on the course: Year 7 for example are in orange and Year 10 in blue:
The colours replicate the school’s official year stripes which the children wear on their uniform, and the use of group badges like this gave Mark the idea of creating other group avatars as ”badges of honour”. “Those Year 10s who have been particularly helpful to the Year 7 pupils are put into the Pupil Mentor group and given a Star badge which displays on their postings, “ he said.
“This is a great motivator and it also means the younger pupils can easily identify older pupils who could support them. In fact, one Pupil Mentor has actually started a thread offering homework help to the Year 7s!”
As part of their ICT coursework, Mark’s KS4 classes have to create tutorials to explain certain processes such as sending emails. The course serves a further purpose in that the KS4 pupils post their tutorials -which might take the form of screencasts for instance – as attachments in the forums and the Year 7 pupils are then tasked with giving them constructive feedback.
Such has been the success of this cross-year social forum that pupils have been posting regularly throughout the Christmas holidays – even while waiting for their turkey to be served up -check out the time on the following screenshot!