When the COVID-19 situation came to the fore and lock down was declared, universities began to think about how they could continue teaching their students.
While there are various tools available to teachers, I found solace in the use of an activity tool that is found on Moodle. It is called the Lesson activity. I first did not know how to use this Moodle activity.
I had watched a video developed by fellow academic Mr. Bernard Yegiora which he shared on his youtube channel. Check out his blog here.
After viewing the video, I began practicing the outline of the lesson activity on Moodle. Eventually, I began to develop lessons for my final year students. One of the earliest lessons I learnt through the use of this Lesson activity is the importance of Lesson Planning. Lesson plans are a key aspect of a teaching strategy. The plan has a topic, learning objectives, list of materials, specific time frames for each section, subtopics, review activities and exercises. I consider doing the lesson plan as much more of a difficult thing to do than developing the actual Lesson Activity on Moodle. So much time is spent on creating content for your students, placing yourself in their shoes, thinking about baby steps they can do in your lesson before moving onto the much complex areas of your topic. At the end when the lesson plan is done, you get excited as you now begin to transfer what is on the lesson plan onto the Lesson Activity on Moodle.
This image below shows the Lesson activity being implemented. As you can see, the lesson has subtopics with a menu and each topic is displayed in the center.
Students have go read and go through each page. You have to click a link to go to the next page. They do that until they reach the last page and the lesson ends. Once a student reaches the end of the lesson, you get a notification of that student’s completion.
I found that after developing the lesson, I could post it on Moodle and let the students go through the lesson pages at their own time. Thus I found that if you designed the lesson properly, you could develop it as a self paced activity for the student. This means that students can do it at their own time and pace during the week. You could also assess students through the lesson activity too if you wanted.
One of the better characteristics of the Moodle lesson is that one could develop review questions after each subtopic. For example you could develop Multiple Choice Questions or True/False questions as well. This enables the students to answer the question, get back the answers and continue through the lesson.
After developing some of the lessons during the lockdown period, I decided that I could help other academics learn about this activity as well.
I ran two sessions for staff members from my faculty (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences) and both sessions took roughly around two hours.
It was hectic and draining after each session but I got through it and was blessed to pass on the little knowledge I had to others. I guess this is part of fulfilling the Divine Word University theme for this year 2020: ‘It is in giving to we receive’.
Someone asked me about why I was so intent on running the sessions for my colleagues as they had the internet to ‘self learn’. I said that my belief is that by sharing, I help my fellow colleagues improve the way they teach. In this way, the academics, as a group, progress and move forward. For example, if I was only one person with a skill like this and didn’t share, it helps no-one, because it creates a burden for myself as no one else will understand how to improve or find better ways for that particular skill I have. That is how I feel about sharing knowledge like this. Let me explain this in another way. If you are a fisherman from a fishing village and you develop a new technique on how to catch fish better, you have to share this new knowledge with other fisherman. You may keep your new technique a secret and catch more fish than everyone but soon or later when you get into trouble or get stuck with your new fishing method, nobody will know how to help you because you are the only one who knows how to help yourself get out…hahahahaha!
Anyway, if you ever get to use Moodle as a learning management system in your organisation or school, try this activity as it will help you greatly. One thing that I have seen is that though it is really hard work to develop the lesson plan for your Moodle lesson activity, in the long run it makes you, as an academic, become efficient with time so you can do other things like research, administrative tasks and even have time for family too.
Before I get out of here, I’s like to say that, an event has forced us to change how we have been doing things. We must embrace the change, find the good in it, adapt to the changing times and help others climb up as well.