Gathering feedback from your Moodle courses

bernadette-parry-headshotBernadette Parry is the Client Support Coordinator at eWorks. Her role involves juggling all sorts of client-focused tasks including start-up TVC training, advanced Moodle training and support desk services. Recently she has received several queries about using Survey Monkey from Moodle Courses. This is of course doable, but here Bernadette tells us ten reasons for using the Feedback survey instead.

Ten reasons for using the Feedback survey in Moodle:

If you have never thought to use the Feedback survey in Moodle, here are my top ten reasons to give it a go:

  1. Course name, teacher names, etc are automatically added to the report. Why not make life easier for yourself, and prevent potential errors associated with manual data entry?
  2. There are fewer options for creating questions and collecting responses. While at first this might seem like a disadvantage, it actually makes the tool  simpler and easier to use.
  3. The Feedback can be anonymous. If the Feedback is anonymous, the participants see ‘Mode: Anonymous’ on the screen – so they are reassured of anonymity.
  4. Even if the Feedback is anonymous, you can still see which participants have not submitted in your activity completion report. This is particularly useful if the Feedback is compulsory.
  5. You can list Feedback activities on your Moodle landing page. This means that  learners can submit the Feedback without logging in.
  6. Logs will record student usage of the Feedback survey. Another way to measure learner engagement.feedback_01
  7. All teachers of a course can receive email alerts when a Feedback form is submitted. Staying within Moodle makes the form look more like an integral part of the course. Better branding, a more professional look and feel, and students more likely to complete the survey.
  8. Staying within Moodle keeps all tracking of student learning together. This not only helps out at auditing time, it makes results easier to find.
  9. If you already have Moodle, there is no extra expense! Why add another layer of cost and software when Moodle has everything you need?
  10. In the future, a new survey module will incorporate Survey, Questionnaire (which is currently a plugin) and Feedback – with the best elements of each. It’ll be even better!

Important things to note

  • ‘Survey’ is another Moodle activity, however with Survey, you can’t create your own questions like you can with Feedback.
  • If you don’t see the Feedback activity in your course, then it may be disabled. Ask your Administrator to ‘turn it on’!
  • Feedback results can be used for continuous improvement of your courses. Use it to gather student Feedback – and teacher Feedback – on how the course went, and how it could be improved.
  • To best analyse your responses, don’t forget to use question type ‘dropdownlist (rated)’. See the Moodle website for more information on the most useful questions to use.
  • See the results! In the screenshot below, four learners have anonymously completed a Feedback survey, ‘Learner Questionnaire’. The results can also be downloaded to an Excel file. Use this analysis to improve your courses.feedback_02

Keen to learn more?

For further information about the Feedback survey activity please visit the Moodle website.

But most importantly, try it! Let me know if you need any help.

Adult learning: The five key assumptions of andragogy

Darcy NicholsonDarcy Nicolson is a learning and technology expert and a regular contributor to eWorks’ blog. Passionate about lifelong learning, Darcy focuses on improving the use of media and technology to enable better personal development and learning outcomes. In part one of this blog series Darcy talked about Malcolm Knowles and the history of andragogy. Today we consider Knowles’ andragogical model of adult learning.

Knowles and andragogy

Knowles built his andragogical model on a number of assumptions about the way adults learn, and kept refining it. I have seen versions with one more and one less assumption, but his 1984 paper, Androgogy in action (Knowles, S.M., 1984) he settled on these five, which we will look at now[1].

  1. Need to know

Adult learners need to know why they would learn something before they will invest time and attention in a subject. I know myself that I tend to invest more energy in learning something if I have a problem at hand, especially if there is a tangible reward as a result – like my hobby brewing. A problem that I have is temperature control, especially with Melbourne’s fluctuating temperatures. You see, yeast requires a certain temperature to convert sugars into alcohol, and if that temperature fluctuates, the type of alcohol produced does also. (This is why a more expensive wine tends not to leave a hangover, and why people report getting drunk easily on home brewed beer.) So the more consistently you can control your fermenting beer, the better quality it is. This motivation led me to building an Arduino based – temperature controlled fermenter – which wouldn’t have happened without the reward of having a craft beer that I have brewed myself.

  1. Learner’s self-concept

The adult learner’s self-concept is more independent. Knowles said “In a traditional classroom setting an adult learner will fold their arms and say ‘teach me’”. As they hark back to experiences in previous educational environments like school, they feel that power over what they are doing is relinquished to the educator. I had an interesting experience talking to attendees of MYOB Accounting seminars. We would have someone talk about an accounting topic and then show how the AccountRight software could help. I wanted to know which topics people were enjoying and more importantly what would bring them back next year. One attendee told me that she knew everything we were saying already, so I thought I had missed the mark with the topics. I asked for feedback on what changes we could make for next year, but she maintained that she would return next year for similar material. I was confused but with further questioning she told me that it felt good to sit up the back and listen to the question from attendees that didn’t know. She invested in the learning exercise as it gave her a sense of worth and the confidence to increase her rates!

  1. Role of experience

Adult learners bring bountiful prior experience into a learning environment. On a plus side this can make for great discussion, but adult learners can also bring bad habits or preconceptions with them. I studied adult learning as an adult with a cohort of other adults at Monash University. The discussions with others in the cohort about their experiences in and on education were as important as the lecture content itself, not to mention the relationships and resulting personal learning network.

  1. Readiness to learn

penington screen

Readiness to learn is an important factor in adult learning. Similar to the need to know factor (point one above), Knowles discusses an adult learner’s priorities aligning with the educational undertaking. Recently we have worked with Penington Institute to provide the Penington Online MOOC, with has courses about crystal methamphetamine use for youth, healthcare professionals and the general public. Using this technology we are able to provide the information to those who need it, when they need it.  Login and have a look!

  1. Motivation to learn

For me the key underpinning success to any learning exercise for anyone, young or old, is the motivation to learn.  I have written previously on the subject regarding my daughter’s introduction to the world of computer programming, fuelled by a desire to make a modification to the hugely popular game Minecraft. The update to this story is that she now has a YouTube channel and is learning multimedia production, also based on her love for Minecraft.

What does all of this mean for the adult educator? 

A andragogical model is all fine and well, but how to we use it to encourage adult learning? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Need to Know: When you are communicating with your learners, think why as well as what.
  • Learner’s self-concept: Keep your learning environment informal, allowing your learns to exercise choice and control – to shape their own learning environments.
  • Role of experience: Discussion, discussion and more discussion. Make time and space for it.
  • Readiness to learn: Ensure that you cover when and how to apply the information, before starting the learning.
  • Motivation to learn: Find the Minecraft that will drive your learners to seek more. Remember why you’re passionate about your subject and encourage that passion in others.

And finally, don’t be afraid to ask the experts. If you need a hand developing your online learning content for adults, eWorks can help.

[1] Knowles, M. S., et al. (1984). Andragogy in action: Applying modern principles of adult education.

Eportfolios: more than a digital resume

Allison Miller, eWorks Accredited ConsultantAllison Miller is a regular contributor to eWorks’ blog. Allison is passionate about providing learners with the knowledge and skills that they need in order to succeed in the world of work. Here she discusses ePortfolios, often misunderstood to be solely digital CVs, but in reality offering so much more.

Isn’t an eportfolio just a digital resume?

The concept of electronic portfolios or eportfolios has been around for nearly 20 years but still many educators grapple with what it is and how they could use it.

One of the main reasons for this is that an eportfolio is both:

  • a product – a digital collection of evidence which demonstrates a person’s learning, and
  • a process – a strategy to help people manage their own learning (Barrett, 2011).

Often people get hung up on the product and view an eportfolio solely as a digital resume or CV. This is because, as a personal online space which can be shared with others, people often only see the final product of the eportfolio, that is: the digital information and files which showcase a person’s experiences, achievements and knowledge – so you can see why people think this way.

In reality, however, it is the eportfolio process, or eportfolio approach to learning, which is the killer aspect of an eportfolio, so let’s unpick this through these five steps.

5 steps to an eportfolio approach to learning

An eportfolio approach to learning involves leading and supporting a learner through a five step, iterative process which helps learners learn how to manage their own learning. It begins with:

1. What do I want to achieve? – The answer to this question may have already been determined for the learner such as:

  • performance criteria in a unit of competency,
  • learning objectives/outcomes in a curriculum document, or
  • standards set by a regulatory or professional body.

Or, it might be working with the learner to set some personal or professional goals.

2. What do I need to do to achieve it? – This step is best done through using an action planning approach which helps learners to determine the steps, key milestones and resources they need to achieve their learning outcomes or the goals they set in step 1.

3. How will I know when I have achieved it? – This step is often overlooked by educators as they are the ones who decide whether someone will pass something or not, without even including the learner in this decision-making process. However, educators should help their learners recognise when they are competent or achieved their learning objectives. The best way to do this is by teaching learners how to recognise their own ‘picture of competence’.

A picture of competence is when someone is performing what is required of them in a job role eg a barista making the perfect flat white coffee. To help a learner recognise their own picture of competence, you need to deconstruct the picture of competence so a learner can recognise when they have achieved it.

This is best done by using a rubric which explicitly describes what people are doing or thinking when they have achieved their picture of competence.

4. What evidence can I capture to show that I’ve achieved it? – once learners recognise that they are competent or have achieved their learning outcomes or goal, the learner then needs to capture evidence of this achievement. In a digital age, learners can use a variety of ways to capture this evidence and keep it in their eportfolio, such as using:

  • An audio recorder on their mobile phone to capture reflective dialogue with others.
  • A digital camera or video recorder on their mobile phone or via a Go Pro type camera strapped to their head to capture live evidence of them doing something.
  • Writing blogs or online journals (either public or private) to capture what has happened on the job or at their work placement, or writing reflections of their learning journey through describing what they have achieved and why it is important.
  • Using Movie Maker, iMovie or Photostory to create digital stories about themselves and their learning journey.
  • Adding digital badges and digital certificates that they have received from their study, training or attending workshops.

5. How can I present this evidence to third parties in a way which meets their requirements? – This where the product part of an eportfolio comes in.

This step, however, isn’t just throwing together all of the evidence that a learner has gathered. It’s a thought out process which enables the learner to present their information in such a way that it demonstrates what they are capable of, and the presentation of this evidence will change depending on their audience.

This is where a good eportfolio tool comes in such as Mahara or PebblePad, as these tools allow learners to easily reuse and repurpose the evidence that they have stored in their eportfolio. This step also requires the learner to have good digital literacy.

Why use an eportfolio approach?

As a summary, an eportfolio is more than just the final output ie the online collection of evidence. It is the process which empowers learners to manage their own learning. In an era which requires people to have higher order thinking and problem solving skills (Australian Government’s “Ideas Boom” Innovation Agenda), an eportfolio approach provides a learning-centred approach to education and training.

In simple terms, the eportfolio approach is about:

  1. Goal setting
  2. Action planning
  3. Reflection
  4. Multi-media and file management
  5. Web presence development

To learn more about eportfolios

Motivating adult learners: what is andragogy?

Darcy NicholsonDarcy Nicolson is a learning and technology expert and a regular contributor to eWorks’ blog. Passionate about lifelong learning, Darcy focuses on improving the use of media and technology to enable better personal development and learning outcomes – regardless of the age of the learner. Today he talks about how to motivate adult learners.

What is Andragogy?

Way back in 2015, I thought it would be relevant to discuss Andragogy and the work of Malcolm Knowles on the subject, in a webinar that I delivered as part of Adult Learners week. The following blog is a summary of the webinar, which covered:

  • an overview of Malcolm Knowles and his work on adult learning
  • differences between pedagogy and andragogy, and
  • the history of the term Andragogy.

I also considered Knowles’s Andragogical model and the five assumptions he wrote of, to describe the differences between adult learning and traditional classroom models. I find his papers to be some of the most accessible and useful from my studies on adult learning, so as we move through these five assumptions today, I will provide examples of how these have related to my life and work as an online learning consultant – and, more importantly perhaps, a dad.

The king of Andragogy – Malcolm Knowles

malcolm knowlesKnowles had a long career in adult learning and is well known for his work in self-directed learning and learning contracts, but he is probably best known for his work on Andragogy. He is often described as humanistic and holistic, and it’s easy to see from his writings about his own learning experiences, that he was passionate about promoting learning and personal growth in adults. Knowles felt that applying pedagogical theory to adults didn’t work well, so he spent 30 years researching and refining a unified theory of adult learning. It was a massive undertaking, but wouldn’t it be great if we had one theory that covered all aspects of adult learning?

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

The what? The Large Hadron Collider is the most powerful particle accelerator built to date. You might have heard that physicists are looking for a sub-atomic particle called a Boson-Higgs that will help to understand how gravity works and potentially discover a parallel universe. I am pretty sure they will actually find the parallel universe before we have an adult learning theory that fits every learner type, style, delivery method, and situation for every subject ever. Yes scientific theories often allow you to exactly isolate the subject and replicate conditions, this is much harder to do when considering an education is as unique as an individual. You might like to watch Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk on changing education paradigms.  I first watched this around the same time I was reading Knowles and found they make similar points on the lack of progress educational theory and systems.

Andragogy versus Pedagogy

The root of the word pedagogy is from the Greek for child, like paediatrics. Knowles talked about pedagogy as a system designed in monastic schools in Europe, and his concern that it is an unchallenged ideology. It’s hard to get perspective and change a system when you are immersed in it. Andragogy on the other hand refers to the adult. A German grammar school teacher, Alexander Kapp originally used the term in 1833.  At the time Johan Herbart, a German philosopher responded and condemned the use of the term which effectively buried it for almost 100 years.  In the 1967 Knowles was introduced to the term by Dusan Savicevic.

Initially Knowles drew a line in the sand between the two, as we see in the title of his 1968 article in Adult Leadership (Knowles, M.S., 1968)[1].  Pedagogy was for children, and andragogy was for adults. Over time, however, he changed his position of looking at these as a dichotomy to a journey from one to the other. By 1979 he looked at each as situational – sometimes pedagogy was relevant, sometimes andragogy.

What happened next?

Knowles went on to build an Andragogical model consisting of five key assumptions about the way that adults learn – a topic covered in Darcy’s next blog post. Go here to read the second blog post in this series.

[1] Knowles, M. S. (1968). Andragogy, not pedagogy. Adult Leadership, 16(10), 350–352, 386.