Guest blog: Céline Homer, language lecturer at Bracknell and Wokingham College
From left to right: Paul Newman (acting Principal at Bracknell & Wokingham College), Tim Robinson (Lecturer: English), Dawn Harrage (Curriculum Manager: General Vocational Studies, representing business courses), Céline Homer (Moodle Implementation Champion and Lecturer: French), Anne Walters (Lecturer: Access to Nursing), Natalie Gibbs (Lecturer: Business, Leisure), Nicola Cannon (Lecturer: Access to Nursing, Biology)
As a language lecturer, I never thought my role would span as wide as looking after an online learning platform but 2.5 years ago this was the case. Learning needs were evolving and we needed a more digital approach to our teaching techniques for the benefit of our students.
The College decided to implement Moodle - a robust, secure and integrated system - with the help of industry stalwarts, CoSector – University of London. As a college on smaller budgets, we couldn’t employ a dedicated individual to look after the Moodle so hence why after showing interest in the platfom, I was asked to champion it and I felt confident that I could promote the value to everyone.
After the online training course provided by Moodle.org, I was ready to showcase our new system, and since then the uptake of the platform has been amazing. Having one platform for all materials means that resources are collated and shared in one place, saving time and effort for all and enhancing the learning experience.
Recently, we ran a competition to find out which course the students favoured most on the Moodle platform and Access to Nursing and Healthcare was crowned the winner. This course got the majority of votes for the following reasons:
- It is extremely well-used by students, especially in terms of forum use
- The tutor(s) made sure that their details were on it, hence making it more personal
- There were some real attempts at using advanced Moodle features (timed release of items, activity completion)
The next two runner-up courses were Travel & Tourism Year 2 and Business Extended Diploma as the student panel agreed that they were both pleasant to look at, there were relevant RSS feeds and they were well used by learners. GCSE English received the students’ award for their use of Moodle features. The winning courses were awarded prizes from CoSector – University of London alongside some Amazon vouchers and it was great acknowledgement for the teachers involved as their efforts going into the Moodle had been recognised.
Looking back, the project hasn’t been without its challenges. You would think the stumbling block would be the technology but this simply wasn’t the case as we had found a partner that understood us and could be flexible to our needs. Whilst I worked on the look and feel and researched the functionalities to match our needs, CoSector – University of London worked with me (and our supportive IT team) to make it work for us. It was more the cultural mind-set that needed some attention. However, once you have buy-in from the staff and support them fully with training, everything else falls into place – each department has a champion to support them. The student’s appetite for digital consumption as we all know is huge so if we can tailor the learning experience and support their needs then we will all come out as winners.