Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Power of Three

At the recent 5th Leading a Digital School Conference, John Pearce presented a session on Evernote and Diigo called "Never lose a document again".

It's a great summation of the usefulness of both services. I use both with my students, but in conjunction with a third - Moodle.

Now I know that some consider Moodle a little bit 'last year'. And I have read a number of edu-bloggers who have questioned the "walled garden" approach that they feel Moodle embodies. But using Moodle in conjunction with Evernote and Diigo works really well for me.

My students and I both use Evernote for note-taking - I love being able to progressively construct diagrams/mindmaps on the whiteboard as we discuss a topic and then at the end just take a snapshot on my phone and send it straight to Evernote - if I manage to keep my scrawling reasonably legible, Evernote even lets me do a text search on it. I can also share key diagrams and notes with my students.

I have Diigo groups for my students, who can then see the webpages I have flagged for them to read or refer to - so much simpler than copying URLs and pasting them into something else for the students, not to mention being able to highlight the particular sections I want them to pay close attention to and add comments they can read in-place. And they are now finding other related materials and bookmarking them for the class to see.

Where does Moodle fit into this picture? Being a content management system, Moodle allows me to do the following (and more):
  • create a page where students can upload assignments/projects and I can mark and comment
  • provide links to materials that are not on the web - python files, screenshots and movies I have created, assessment tasks, course outlines, etc.
  • provide a place where they can post questions
  • build quizzes for them to test themselves on
There are other ways to accomplish these tasks, of course, but Moodle provides a convenient way of doing these things and also monitoring what the students have and have not accessed. So I end up with the following:
  • a way for the students (and I) to take notes from classes (Evernote)
  • a way to flag items on the Web for students to refer to (Diigo)
  • a way to provide items not on the Web to students (Moodle)
  • a way for students to send items to me (Moodle)
Others may be using other services, maybe Ning or Edmodo, to achieve similar ends to what I am doing with Moodle. I may change to something else in the future. But right now, Moodle fits in nicely.

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