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TERESA OLIVEIRAALCINO PASCOALLOURENÇO FRAZÃOFCT-UNL | PORTUGAL: 

VELVITT Conference 'Portuguese Experience with VLEs' TERESA OLIVEIRA ALCINO PASCOAL LOURENÇO FRAZÃO FCT-UNL | PORTUGAL TEI of Crete | Heraklion – GREECE | October 11th, 2005

FCT-UNL IN A NUTSHELL: 

FCT-UNL IN A NUTSHELL Established in 1977, as part of UNL (New University of Lisbon); Approximately 6.500 undergraduate students; Offers 19 degrees in Sciences and Engineering; Offers 3 Science Teaching degrees, although 2 are suspended for the time being; Only Maths Teaching degree is fully operational.

VLEs’ USAGE @ FCT-UNL: 

VLEs’ USAGE @ FCT-UNL No VLE adopted until 2004; Initial trials comprised the use of a proprietary platform (FCT-UNL’s Training Institute) and in-house web-based portals with reduced features; Academic year 2004-2005 marked the adoption of Moodle by FCT-UNL; Not all courses are implemented in Moodle, but the activities are expanding significantly.

IN-HOUSE WB PORTALS - 1: 

IN-HOUSE WB PORTALS - 1 Pioneering activity of the Educational Sciences Sector; First experiments dated 1997-98; In constant use from 1998-99 up to 2003-04; Main objectives: Information repository (FAQs, courses’ syllabi); Download area (shareware software); Students’ portfolios; Administration area (calendar, summaries, etc.); Evaluation area (detailed review and final marks).

IN-HOUSE WB PORTALS - 2: 

IN-HOUSE WB PORTALS - 2 Main features / implementations / characteristics: Companion ftp server with restricted access; Specific mailing list (Yahoo groups); Comprehensive list of educational software and other resources; Regular updates (FAQs, calendar, administration area, etc.); Support of external peers, whenever available (other tutors, software developers, etc.); Html editing compulsory for assignments; Reviewed profile: the word to the individual; Flexible templates available.

IN-HOUSE WB PORTALS - 3: 

IN-HOUSE WB PORTALS - 3 The pluses: Intense collaborative work (within the groups and the class); Development of social skills (communication…); Exploitation of creativity with the assignments’ delivery; Development of technical skills while manipulating different types of software; Improved use of the www as a privileged source of information; Enhanced thinking and reasoning; Low level of drop-off rates; Implementation of proto-learning communities.

IN-HOUSE WB PORTALS - 4: 

IN-HOUSE WB PORTALS - 4 The minuses: Requires huge administration work from the tutor; Students’ registration is not automated; Mailing list inefficient for sustaining a discussion; Too much flexibility with templates can be a burden for the tutor; Html editing and ftping might be complex for some students; Calendar features proved to be insufficient; Temptation to concentrate on aesthetics rather than contents; Some simple tasks are not automated: it requires extra time from students enrolled.

IMPLEMENTING Moodle - 1: 

IMPLEMENTING Moodle - 1 Pioneering activity of the Educational Sciences Sector; First experiments dated 2003-04; In constant use from 2004-05; Main objectives: Information exchange (FAQs, working documents, courses’ syllabi); Interactive communication area (embedded); Administration area (embedded); Pool tests and self-assessment tools (embedded).

IMPLEMENTING Moodle - 2: 

IMPLEMENTING Moodle - 2 The pluses: Intense collaborative work (within the groups and the class); Development of social skills (communication…); Improved level of interactivity between peers; Substantial time savings for administration tasks (tutors); Easiness of use by students; Multiplicity of embedded tools; Threaded discussions are possible; Open source software (flexibility and availability); Expansion of the 'learning community' concept.

IMPLEMENTING Moodle - 3: 

IMPLEMENTING Moodle - 3 The minuses: Portfolios are not developed in such a creative way; Too much interactivity (discussions, chat, etc.) might have risks; … It is still a recent experience: additional data is required for a consistent comparison.

PROJECT’s ACTIVITIES: 

PROJECT’s ACTIVITIES General purpose tasks; Common module delivery: 'Basic Teaching Skills' module @ Huddersfield, using BlackBoard; Evaluation report for module above by 'PT-Testers': VLE access: difficulties, no. of trials; Contents: categories, relevance, transferability to national context, overall structuring, portal design; Additional comments.

PT-TESTERS’ KEY FINDINGS: 

PT-TESTERS’ KEY FINDINGS 'Unknown' VLE didn’t turn to be a major burden; 'Language issue': positive aspect, promotes practice; Involvement of 4 countries contributed for a rich learning endeavor; Strong commitment by learners is compulsory; There should be a permanent tutoring and coaching; It is critical to provide 'instant' feedback to questions and activities accomplished by learners; The way contents are organised play an important role for the success of learning.

THE WAY AHEAD: 

THE WAY AHEAD Closing common module delivery: 'Computer Mediated Skills' module @ Huddersfield, using BlackBoard; Information sharing and further cooperation with TAOKK (also implemented Moodle); Available online again a practical example of an 'in-house web-based portal' for external examination; Reporting procedures in place, with local tutoring.

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