Saturday, June 04, 2011

Science Teaching with Moodle 2.0: A Review

Science Teaching with Moodle 2.0 addresses an urgent need. Teaching science as well as health courses can be a challenge in the average online course, due to specialized vocabulary, symbols and annotations, applied math, flow charts, graphics, and charts. For example, courses on organic chemistry, environmental science, earth sciences, zoology, anatomy, teen health, and more can be very dynamic in Moodle. Moodle's basic structure, which is built around interactions and discussion forums, may be a challenge for instructional designers and instructors due to the fact that the organization may not align with the sequence that may be best for learning science. For that reason, it's often useful to take advantage of Moodle's flexibility with plug-ins and outside programs. Further, Moodle's structure encourages collaboration and interaction, which means that online labs with lab partners and peers.

To get the most of Moodle and to develop an effective science course, one can turn to guidebooks, one of which has been published by Packt Publishing. Science Teaching with Moodle 2.0 provides guidance for those who are new to Moodle, as well as ideas for experienced Moodle users. A sample chapter is available online (Monitoring Your Students' Progress) and can help develop strategies for improving student success rates.

Scientific terms and definitions: Moodle's capacity to incorporate wikis and glossaries is a good starting point for science courses that require the mastery of terms and concepts. Chapter 6 covers this point.

Math equations, with the incorporation of symbols and specific characters, are often sticking points in all learning management systems. This text provides a step-by-step guide for incorporating science-specific tools, embedding graphics and molecular models. Chapter 7 is a good "go-to" chapter for tips and tricks.

Virtual Labs Partners: The text is very thorough when it comes to inspiring learner engagement and also incorporating many applications and tools (many of which are open-source, some of which are probably destined to be fairly ephemeral). However, it does not address the issue of what makes science classes unique, and how and why they require a unique approach to learning. The core idea of testing hypotheses in order to model reality, and to create logical structures that explain how phenomena work in our world is absolutely mission-critical. Science is all about empirical evidence or mathematical formulae to provide support for a model; as such, science is a discourse of explanation that is constantly in transition as technology and methods of investigation advance.

The Scientific Method: Science Teaching with Moodle 2.0 really should provide underpinnings, and the fact that it does not represents an opportunity for those who like to develop courses and incorporate original content. As they do so, teachers and instructional designers who are willing to include scientific mindsets and epistemologies have the opportunity to help motivate online teachers to think of themselves as in the vanguard, rather than lagging behind the traditional classroom.

Podcast! Listen to an interview with Susan Smith Nash on

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