St Andrew’s College is a school that is committed to delivering first class technology to students and staff to use in supporting their teaching and learning practices. In 2012 Moodle was introduced as the first real Learning Management System the College had used, replacing an ageing and feature-limited version of Microsoft Sharepoint. In 2013, thanks to the introduction of cloud based synchronisation via SkyDrive (now called OneDrive), Microsoft OneNote became increasingly popular amongst teachers as a tool for delivering class notes and collecting student feedback.
Since then, many teachers have variously tried both Moodle and OneNote interchangeably, sometimes abandoning one in favour of the other or struggling to identify when to use the most appropriate tool. Through various discussions, I have picked up a distinct pattern of thought that suggests most teachers believe they must use exclusively either Moodle or OneNote, but rarely did any teachers describe a workflow that included both.
This is a shame, because I believe both tools actually complement the other and when used in conjunction they provide a phenomenal feature set to easily deliver quality eLearning to our students. As this case study from Microsoft shows, both Moodle and OneNote can work together and over the course of the next two blog posts I aim to highlight:
- The various strengths and weaknesses of each product
- Some suggested workflows of using them alongside each other
THE STRENGTHS OF MOODLE:
I have blogged about how St Andrew’s uses Moodle already, and below I am going to list off the key features that make Moodle an outstanding Learning Management System (in no particular order):
- It is free and easy to install for immediate use. Furthermore, it was designed from the ground up for educational use.
- As an Open Source product, you are free to customise it in any way you choose to meet the needs of your school or students (admittedly, this does require some coding ability).
- There is a huge amount of third party plugins written for Moodle, rounding out the feature set to meet the needs of most schools.
- Assignments: it easily handles the setting of various different assignment types, automatic cut off at due dates, electronic marking using rubrics and other scales, and feedback to students.
- Forums: multiple forum styles that allow for online discussion and sharing, with no chance of student interference of other’s comments.
- Resources: since mid-2013, teachers have been able to drag’n’drop most file types for uploading into Moodle courses, streamlining the building of quality courses.
- Quizzes a robust and flexible quiz engine allowing for individualised, self-paced learning and feedback.
- Reporting: teachers can easily see which students have viewed a resource, contributed to a discussion or completed an assignment or quiz. This massively reduces the management of checking student work.
- Embedding of third party content: You can easily embed third party video, audio, animation content directly into your courses meaning your students do not need to simply follow links to websites.
- Automatic enrolment: students can be automatically enrolled into courses based off a third party database or directory groups.
- End of course / year rollover: Teachers can easily “reset” a course at the end of a year or semester, removing assignment submissions, forum comments and other student data, readying it for the next class they teach.
There are many other features that could be listed here, but this is a number that relate to specific usage at St Andrew’s College.
THE STRENGTHS OF ONENOTE:
It is worth reading some of the previous blog posts on OneNote usage at St Andrew’s to see how our teachers are using it, for example as ePortfolios, class electronic whiteboards and to improve student writing. Again, in no particular order, here are some of the strengths of OneNote:
- In New Zealand, the Ministry of Education agreement with Microsoft makes the Office Suite available to most students in New Zealand schools.
- It is part of the Microsoft Office Suite, so is immediately reasonably familiar in the look and feel when compared with Word, Excel or PowerPoint for example, reducing the learning curve for teachers and students.
- The default layout is very similar to a traditional tabbed ring binder folder – there is a visual connection as an electronic ring binder that is familiar with most people.
- The ability to drag and drop images, documents and text into the NoteBooks is very intuitive.
- It can now be shared easily via OneDrive with other OneNote users.
- The desktop application is very feature rich: for example video and audio can be recorded directly into a NoteBook.
- There is an online, browser based version called OneNote Online which can be shared as read-only to create an ePortfolio style document.
- The recently added Class NoteBook Creator Tool makes it very easy for a classroom teacher to setup all students in a class to share a single NoteBook.
- Inking: when run on tablet or supported touch devices, handwriting can be used directly into OneNote NoteBooks – good examples would be the Surface Pro 3 tablet.
- A teacher can have “real time” access into a student folder at any time they choose, compared with having to physically collect in work books to see a student’s progress.
- Microsoft seems to have a growing focus on education and they are becoming increasingly responsive to feedback and feature requests, resulting in the OneNote product becoming available on more platforms (iOS and Android for example).
Evidently then, both Moodle and OneNote offer incredible features for teachers and students alike, making it immediately obvious why schools and educational institutions all over the world are using them. In the next blog post I will discuss some of the drawbacks with each product when used in isolation and in doing so, highlight where they can complement each other when used together.