Using Moodlecloud to (attempt to) go paperless in an EFL classroom

As an EFL language teacher, and particularly an exam-preparation class teacher, sometimes I feel like I am contributing to the destruction of a small forest with the amount of photocopying I might do in a week.

To counter this, I set myself a goal to go as paperless as possible using Moodlecloud to help me achieve this goal.

Devices

Students either bring and use their own devices, or, at the school I am currently teaching at, students have access to a class set of Google Chromebooks, which I take to the classroom for them to use. These are preferable to the tiny screens of their own mobile phones, and I would recommend a similar device, tablet or laptop where possible.

Setup

I set up a Moodlecloud site with the free version and went from there. Initially I tried to set up a different course per week, but in the end I went with topics within one course, and hid the topics that were no longer relevant. This saved time as I didn’t have to enrol students on a regular basis. With the possibility of new students entering the class every week, this made sense.

I didn’t use Moodlecloud every day, mainly because each activity took a little more time to set up than photocopying would have. However, I will easily be able to use the activities and resources again and I don’t have to worry about storing and filing papers, as it’s all on the (Moodle) cloud.

Uses

I used the Moodlecloud site for the following:

  • communicating via Messaging (in class) and Forum (outside of class time) – this was great because it meant we didn’t have to share our private mobile numbers nor worry about downloading an App that might not be supported by our device or restricted by our country’s mobile number. It also is a great way of getting away from other social media platforms that not everyone likes or wants to be part of.
  • setting homework tasks that wouldn’t get lost, using Quiz
  • sharing resources using URL and (when I didn’t have time to create separate URLs) Page
  • using Page to set up prompts for speaking tasks
  • submitting writing tasks using Assignment with simple rubrics for marking
  • creating a self-marking test ‘answer-sheet’ using Quiz
  • sharing answers for in-class or homework tasks by taking a photo of the answer section in the teacher’s book and putting it in a Page

I was also able to use Backup and Restore to copy courses, activities, and resources from my other Moodle site(s), which was very handy for last-minute activities.

Observations & Results

We didn’t use the site every day, as I had hoped, but we did use it at least once a week for self-study when I took students out of the classroom for individual consultations or practice speaking tests

My current course is definitely set up to be used in conjunction with face-to-face teaching and is not designed to stand alone.

I didn’t go as paperless as I would have liked, but it’s definitely a start and something I intend to continue to do.

Limitations

One important consideration is that the free version allows up to 50 users only.

Have a go!

If you would like to have a look at the course, I’ve made a duplicate copy of it without students:

Site https://tish.moodlecloud.com

Course Tish’s IELTS class (demo)

Enrolment keys
Guest: demo-guest; Teacher: demo-teacher; Student: demo-student

NB Teacher and Student will need to create an account and have a 2-hour enrolment access period. You can re-enrol if your enrolment period expires before you have finished perusing the course. Guests do not need to create an account and can view the course, resources, and most of the activities, but cannot fully access some of the activities.

Please let me know what you think, or add your own ideas and experiences, using the comments below.

Tish Kirkland

English Tutor at YES! IELTS
Instructional Designer, English Language Teacher, IELTS Writing Tutor. Kiwi living in Brisbane, Australia.

Tish Kirkland

Instructional Designer, English Language Teacher, IELTS Writing Tutor. Kiwi living in Brisbane, Australia.

5 thoughts on “Using Moodlecloud to (attempt to) go paperless in an EFL classroom

  • 23rd June 2019 at 5:20 am
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    Hi Tish,

    I’m and EFL teacher too and I use Moodlecloud in a similar context.

    Most of my students are exam takers (Cambridge First, Advanced, Proficiency, IELTS) and they come to school twice a week for 1 hour only each time, so there’s no time to do exam practice. I have set up 7 practice tests with all four parts (without the speaking). Each test is available for 2 weeks, then it closes and the next one becomes available one week later, which gives me time download, mark and upload the writings back to the students. I have also set up the gradebook to reflect the passing and failing grades of the exam and I mark the writings using the official marking scheme (I have set up the rubrics in the same way).

    Reply
    • 23rd June 2019 at 12:03 pm
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      That’s great! Where do you get the tests from? Has someone at your school set it up, or did your school purchase the package from somewhere? I love the idea of the 2-week access. It’d be great if there was something similar for IELTS. Maybe there already is?!

  • 23rd June 2019 at 5:11 am
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    Hi Tish,
    I use Moodlecloud in an EFL context too. I usually teach Cambridge exam classes (First, Advanced, Proficiency, IELTS), so from January on when my students have to do practice exam tests, I enrol them in an exam class, there are 7 complete practice tests available over the Jan-June. Each test is full with its feedback for every task, gradebook set up to reflect passing and failing scores, writings marked according to the official rubrics.

    Reply
    • 23rd June 2019 at 12:07 pm
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      That’s great! I am so happy to hear that other people are using Moodle. May I ask where you get the tests from? Did you create them or are they available to purchase? I created some answer booklets using one of the IELTS test books, but I’d love it if there were tests for purchase. Many of my students will take the CBT and the old paper-based tests don’t emulate the experience they will have on their real test day. I’d love to have something similar for IELTS.

  • 22nd June 2019 at 11:36 am
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    Great post Tish!
    I’m sure many teachers could use Moodle Cloud in a similar way – as most classes will be less than 50 students – I certainly hope so ! lol
    Although Moodle Cloud does have limits, both in terms of users and disk space for uploading content, it’s a good starting point.
    For your blended-learning experiment is sounds very positive for learners.
    I was interested in your comments about the limitations of smartphone screen size. These days some people suggest everything can be done from a phone, but I think that’s not the best option if better alternatives are available.

    Reply

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