Over the past 2 years, schools in our district have been switching over to Moodle webpages instead of the usual web 1.0 (information only) webpages. I have been to two schools now that have made this transition, and I am still not sure what to think of Moodle and the new websites. The new site for our school has clean lines, fairly easy to navigate and looks pretty sharp, so in that sense it is a definite improvement. However, I don't think that the 'power' of Moodle is being used to its advantage. I know that Moodle was developed as a way to deliver course content online for universities.
So what's the problem?
Firstly, I work in a public high school and there seems to be a lot of fear among the staff and admin that allowing students to contribute and post online on the school site is inviting trouble. "What if a student writes something inappropriate?" "We can't let students write anything on the site on their own, they might not abide by the rules!"
Secondly, I work in a face to face environment, where students are expected to attend each class every day. So why would I put content on my moodle page that tells students what we covered and what the homework is? Does that teach them to be responsible for their own learning? Or does it give them an out if they decide to skip class today?
Both of these issues rely on the same point: give students the freedom, and they will do something bad. I don't have a problem with students writing on the website (in a forum for instance) because no one is anonymous on Moodle. So the likelihood of a student putting inappropriate content on the site is small because they aren't going to get away with it. I do have a problem putting up homework and class notes because a) it creates more work for me and b) it doesn't help deter students from missing class. Chances are though that for a) I could easily make it part of my routine and b) the ones who are skipping class probably aren't going to be the types to do their homework anyways! So perhaps that point is moot.
I'm still struggling with the concept and not sure how I am going to implement it this year (if at all). That being said, I don't think any of our students know how to create an account to login to the school site anyway, so perhaps having them contribute on the site is, again, moot!
Does your school have a moodle/WebCT/other interactive site? How do you use it? Do students contribute or is it teacher-centered only? I'd like to hear some ideas on how to use it for student interaction and not just for information.