GoogleDocs & Moodle: match made in heaven

The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.
– Benjamin Disraeli

If you are one of the people who read this blog regularly then you know that i am pretty high on Google Docs these days.  Likewise i am blown away by the things that i see my teachers doing within Moodle.  Then there are the real high flyers (according to Bloom) – the synthesizers.  The ones who have asked, “what would happen if i linked my Moodle directly to my GoogleDocs?”
Would it be like crossing the beams in GhostBusters?  OR would it allow me to continuously modify my documents without worrying about losing information or linking to a previous (outdated) document.  would it allow me to save mountains of server space by hosting the file in a Google’s public area?  would it allow me to link to collaborative student assignments as they develop?  There are so many advantages that i could literally sit here and type them for the rest of my day – something i would quite seriously love to do, but instead i return to budgeting…

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is the grass really greener over there?

The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be.
– Robert Fulghum

It seems that my techy friend Nevin has come up in many of my most recent posts, and why shouldn’t he, he is a great guy; generous with his knowledge and always makes himself available for a quick skype session or even just to compare tales of fatherhood.  In fact it is he who introduced me to TeamViewer and he has been an invaluable component of our Moodle implementation here at Carol Morgan.  Indeed, this post started to bounce around my head when we were talking about some ideas for Moodle training.  He revealed to me that a number of schools in Eastern Europe or even Zagreb will send people to other shools simply because they find their staff more attentive to the “new face.”  I had never thought about it, but i must say i have experience times when it is somehow easier to listen to the “expert” you know little about then to the (perhaps more qualified) “friend” that is just down the hall from you.  This notion was at the forefront of my mind this week as i re-presented a workshops on using blogs to increase writing, reflection and assessment across the curriculum to my “home team.” I felt it was received well in both locations, the feedback i have received has been great and i have reports of more then 500 student blogs that have been created by students of the teachers in the three workshops – will they stick?  This morning i received a wonderful email from one of the teachers in Costa Rica and i appreciated her feedback and knowing that she is diving headlong into the blogosphere.

Please take a second and check out some of these great teacher blogs that are taking off – comment and help expand and extend their experience…

Google Presentation…

practice what you preach

Do not let your deeds belie your words, lest when you speak in church someone may say to himself, ‘Why do you not practice what you preach?’
– Saint Jerome

I do a lot of talking around here about collaboration.  I push it pretty much daily; to teachers, to friends, to students, and to administrators.  This week has been a great reminder to me as to the power of collaboration.  As a member of the World Virtual Schools project (driven by the Department of State) i have had the opportunity to meet many tech directors from a variety of schools around the world.  I have been equally amazed at both the similarities and differences of the schools involved.  This week i have got my moneys worth of SKYPE in conecting with Zagreb, Croatia working through some issues that were arising within our Moodle server.  The goal is to have a secure Moodle connection and mirror site up and running quickly – looks like we will get there much sooner than we had originally hoped.  In return i was able to share some of the lessons we learned during our implementation of PowerSchool last year.  At the same time as i was working on this situation i was in text chat with Kim Cofino in Thailand helping to launch a 4th grade BlogPals project spanning Europe, Asia, North America, Australia and the Carribbean.  I was stumped launching Mrs. Castro’s blog and it only took about 3 minutes for Kim to straighten me out.  Without her it would have taken much longer and without my friend in Croatia i would still be experimenting to see why our moodle was malfunctioning (it turns out our AntiVirus had corrupted a portion of the data base).
At the end of the week it was very clear; i advanced further, faster by working with other people – collaboration works and is a new norm.  The direct instruction of collaborative skills and modeling collaboration is crucial to what we are trying to do in the modern school.I’m sold (again)

How is your EdPedagogy knowledge?  Try this here.
(made with QuizCreator Demo)

fat tax forum…

What if nothing exists and we’re all in somebody’s dream? Or what’s worse, what if only that fat guy in the third row exists?
– Woody Allen

Moodle and the potential benefits that it offers students, teachers, schools and parents are no secret in the EduBlogging community.  It is also not a new phenomenon; but it is new at CMS and truth be told we are only in a trial period – teachers who have volunteered.  It is major goal of mine; as it supports my position representing the Tri-Association on the World Virtual Schools project.  I have thus monitored this launch pretty closely and will continue to so.  I am hearing things that really make me feel motivated:  “why can’t all of our classes be like this,” “this class is so cool,” and “i didn’t know chatting could be be part of school”.   Words that make the work so worthwhile.
Yes there are great teachers piloting the project, yes their classes would be “cool” without this online environment because of the way the set up their questioning with real world problems that uncover the  curriculum, but it is no less great to hear.  Recognizing that this is still just the start of the school year (when motivation is at its highest) i want you to take a second and read the posts in the AP Economics Forum.  I was really impressed with the level of thinking going on so early in the course.  As Mr. McCollough says in his final post students addressed the social concerns while staying focused on the economic issues.  Great stuff!  If you make it that far also look at the incentives program in the course – quite original and the students LOVE it!
Kind of the same simple equation i have been discussing here:
real problem+real questions+real discussion/real people (aka students) = real learning and understanding