The summer 2019 “Moodle for Blended Learning: Hands-on Workshop” is on.
This is a “Teachers for Teachers” initiative at its best: Teachers of English are learning and exploring together the techno-pedagogical possibilities inherent in the Education Ministry’s Moodle learning environment. In Israel, we, teachers of English in Junior High and High School teach ALL the pupils in our schools. We can be the first to integrate Moodle into the teaching and learning process, teaching efficiently and effectively. We can be the ones who show “How to start a movement” at school.
The Israel Ministry of Education (MOE) ICT Department has created (and made available for free) Moodle Platforms for its teachers to use for Blended Learning. The use of this (or any) LMS is not imposed. While there are different Learning Environments Systems available for teachers to choose, the MOE Moodle Platform is the flagship and, as I see it, the best choice for every teacher and her/his pupils. If we succeed, my colleagues deserve the credit.
The project started with three Webinars in the “My Digital Environment” series during May 2019 (See Smore: Moodle Webinars in English).
These goals were stated:
Teachers will become familiar with Moodle Resources, Moodle Activities, and Moodle Blocks, designed to increase learning.
Teachers will become familiar with support material that is available to them.
Teachers will be encouraged to develop their own Ministry of Education Moodle digital learning environment in English.
Teachers will learn how to get more out of Moodle Resources and Moodle Activities, how to use Moodle Blocks to help them reuse content, and how to implement ready-made activities in their environment.
The Webinars opened a window of opportunity: Within days, there was the possibility of setting up a nationwide, fully online Ministry of Education funded and supported “Learn Moodle Basics”-type of Professional Development workshop that would cater to the needs of JHS and HS teachers of English in State, Public schools. For valid reasons, it had to be developed and facilitated almost right away, starting on June 23rd and finishing during the first week of August 2019.
As there are a couple of very active teachers of English in Israel Facebook groups, registration was announced mainly (but not only) on these FB groups. This video served as one means of getting teachers interested in and informed about the course: https://youtu.be/0CfDZ-Ywfpk
The G20 leaders certainly did a good job: It took less than three days to have 100 teachers from all over Israel registered for the workshop (see this image of the Google My Map of the course). No one forced them to sign up, of course. This is not something that happens every day, as it has involved collaboration among different people from different areas of the Israel Ministry of Education. The school year has just ended, so getting teachers to sign up is not something that can be taken for granted.
The National Chief inspector of English Language Education at the Ministry supports the initiative. “From my point of view, this is a grass-roots project that is relevant for English teachers nationwide and the registration reflects this. I’m sure this is a beginning, or perhaps a continuation, of a learning journey and a model of cooperation between the technology department at the Ministry and the English inspectorate”.
It takes two to tango, and it takes more to start the movement to make Moodle as the best complement to teaching and learning in the English Foreign Language classroom in Israel. While lone wolves may survive in Nature, being lone teachers who use Moodle for Blended learning on their own can easily get these teachers in a rut. We may be on our way to creating a community of English teachers-Moodlers in Israel.