Moodle Moot Canada 2013: Day 2

MoodleMoot2013From February 13-15, 2013, members of the Centre for Instructional Development (CID) attended the  Moodle Moot Canada 2013 conference in Vancouver.

The CID and the DL Support team attended a variety of educational and technical sessions at this stimulating two and a half day conference. (Many attendees tweeted out URLs, notes and quotes using the hashtag #mootca13.)

Keynote: Tony Bates – “Quality in eLearning”

The keynote speaker on Day 2 was Dr. Tony Bates, President and CEO of Tony Bates Associates Ltd, a private company specializing in consultancy and training in the planning and management of e-learning and distance education. He is a recognized expert in distance learning theory and practice, has authored eleven books, and has worked as a consultant in over 40 countries. Clients include the World Bank, OECD, UNESCO, national ministries of education, and several U.S. state higher education commissions as well as many universities and colleges.

Tony commented on the current “MOOC hysteria” happening in higher education: “What is disappointing is the continual lack of recognition of the research, design and best practices that have come from earlier work on online learning. Frankly, this shows a lack of scholarship that would not be tolerated in other disciplines – and it is coming from those very institutions that place most emphasis on scholarship. They should be incorporating best online practices into MOOCs – as far as the format allows – before throwing them at learners. But that would mean acknowledging that MOOCs are an evolution of online teaching, and not something new invented by Ivy League universities.”

When he described his concerns over “quality” in elearning courses in general, he made reference to his previous research into elearning quality standards. “Coursera MOOCs”, he said, “don’t seem to follow rules of rules of elearning quality.”

Other comments and observations from this session:

  • The roles of students, instructor are changing with the affordances of web2.0.
  • Students are gaining more control over their learning, but credentialing is still an issue.
  • Learning as Development: The student moves along a continuum progressing from dependent learning to independent learning.
  • Don’t think of just how to move classroom instruction online. Think of how Web2.0 gives you new ways to teach.
  • Look for research that shows which activities are the most beneficial in classroom or groups.
  • Student diversity in purpose and prior knowledge-determine student requirements
  • Determine subject requirements – which can be done online and which needs to be on location – more and more remote capability is available
  • When considering teaching students HOW to learn online, consider the whole program, and not just one course.
  •  eLearning requires a team approach and mastery of the tech. Instructors need to be trained, and need to know “how can I do this in the LMS.”
  • Some skills are best suited to online – especially 21st century tech use
  • Design activities students can actually do considering their environment
  • Instructor presence and communication are critical to online learner success.
  • Follow quality steps, but do not fail to innovate and keep up to new possibilities. Then evaluate and disseminate.
  • Quality standards tend to follow innovation. Then, instructors need strategies for capturing innovation so it doesn’t remain isolated. Once innovative practice is identified and understood, it can be evaluated for quality.

Session: Mobile Learning – Paul Hibbitts

Paul Hibbitts teaches User Experience in the Computer Science program at SFU. He established Hibbitts Design in 1998 to provide personalized user-centered design, interaction design, and training services. He provides hands-on design and coaching to improve user experiences for desktop applications, mobile devices, and the web.

Mobile is the new reality in the world of online learning. With a focus on user experience (UX), Paul shared his design insights and techniques on how to leverage Moodle to better support anytime, anywhere learning on an ever-expanding range of mobile devices.

Drawing from his experiences in creating and designing mobile blended learning materials on a variety of platforms, Paul presented his preferred mobile design approaches and field-tested techniques. Topics included the fundamentals of mobile learning UX, the ongoing evolution of the “mobile first” design viewpoint, and the increased importance of design for emotion. Paul also presented how open-source responsive HTML frameworks like Twitter Bootstrap can help to make Moodle more mobile friendly.

Issues: Trends and Influence of Mobile Web Platforms

By 2014, mobile web use will overtake desktop use. Soon, a student’s first or only web access will be via a mobile device.

Paul recommended the book, Mobile First, which proposes that user interface designers should begin their design considerations and requirements from a mobile platform perspective first, and then build on that design to accommodate the needs of desktop platforms afterwards.

This “mobile first” philosophy is the reverse of how design has traditionally approached mobile, designing for the desktop first, and then removing or reducing the GUI to accommodate mobile users.

Paul suggested that interface designers and online course designers need to focus on the mobility of the learner, whether they use a tablet, smartphone, or something in-between (“phablet). Responsive Web Design (RWD) is the best answer for multi-device user experience design (HTML5, javascript, viewports).

It’s now a multi-screen, multi-context world. Ask yourself “How is my content going to follow me around?”

Implementation: Twitter Bootstrap – framework for RWD.

Moodle Bootstrap is a mobile theme that takes advantage of the Titter Bootstrap framework to provide a responsive, multi-platform user interface that adapts to desktop or mobile displays.

You probably have more of an emotional attachment to your mobile device than to your desktop computer. (Emotion aids engagement.)

Slides from this presentation are online here:

Here is a MindMap of the topics Paul covered in his presentation:

Integrating a Moodle Course into Facebook

Rafael Scapin, the Coordinator of Education Technology at Dawson College in Montreal, presented on a survey project he did with 3rd year Presentation Illustration students.

The goal of this project was to leverage Facebook’s popularity amongst their students to provide a communication and collection space  – a Facebook page – where the Moodle-based instructors and students could chat as a group, and where instructor could post information about course news and content updates. Being the most popular social media service in the world (with 1 Billion users in 2012), Facebook is already in use by most if not all the student population. It can provide them a useful space in which to stay in touch with students “out of class”, or to reconnect with students who haven’t logged into Moodle recently.

His slideshow presentation is online at

This entry was posted in Centre for Instructional Development, Conferences and Events, Distributed Learning, Moodle, Moodle, Study of Teaching & Learning by E. John Love. Bookmark the permalink.

About E. John Love

John joined VCC's Centre for Instructional Development as Moodle Media Developer in May 2011. Before working at VCC, John spent over 20 years working as an art director, graphic designer, web designer and technical writer in the high-tech sector in Greater Vancouver. Early in his career, he contributed to the production of two award-winning educational TV series for BC's Knowledge Network. John has a diploma in fine arts from the Emily Carr College of Art + Design (1989), and continues to take an active interest in art, culture and new media. A proud multidisciplinary self-learner, John enjoys exploring the relationships between art, design, and technology. He blogs and tweets on many topics, and in 2009, published his first novel.

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