The school has roughly 200 children from ages 4-11 and is single form entry. The socio-economic area it supports is quite deprived and the school cannot rely on all children having ICT access at home.
The school has an ICT area with 16 PCs running Windows XP, 3 computers in each classroom and a trolley containing 20 laptops. This enables staff to develop ICT skills in KS1 which are built on in KS2 through cross curricular use. Staff rely heavily on ICT when delivering lessons, including the sue of IWBs.
The school decided to get involved with Moodle after hearing about it through CLEO. They had looked at various other Learning Platforms but thought Moodle best supported learning and teaching and had a fairly simple approach for setting up and running. The head teacher, Mr Metcalfe, believes Moodle offers opportunities for children to engage with ICT in school and at home. He recognises that change is the biggest stumbling block faced in school and has therefore tried to involve the staff, on different levels, right from the beginning of implementing the Learning Platform.
In the beginning there was a large amount of 'trying it out' before starting large projects in the school. After a couple of months a working group was set up to run small Moodle projects before involving the rest of the school.
The year 5 teacher says 'I got cajoled into it by the head' but has since become very enthusiastic about using Moodle.
Roles and responsibilities
Initially the head teacher carried out all the administration for the Learning Platform. However, as the LP has become embedded across the school responsibilities have been develoved. For example, the administration team now allocate and maintain users - including issuing new passwords.
The head, as an administrator, controls the overall access rights. As a user he sets up some forums and other activities to encourage pupil involvement and hear their views.
The year 5 teacher sets up classroom based curriculum activities and includes some activities for home use. She sets up her own courses with support, where needed, from other class teachers who are ICT confident - but says it is not too hard when you get used to it.
How Moodle is used
Moodle is used largely in Key Stage 2, due to readability and access issues in Key Stage 1. The school (and CLEO) are trying to address this issue.
Some examples of use are:
Not all teachers use Moodle outside of class all the time because of the need to set up 'extra' work and research links, etc. Everyone who has used it says sometimes it works really well though to offer support for work at home.
Benefits of using Moodle
Pupils can access secure, safe materials in a personalised environment. They can contact adults and peers to support their learning. They also benefit from having access to resources outside of school.
Parent know that work on the Moodle is not only safe and suitable but is designed to support their child's learing.
Teachers have reinforced relationships with children using Moodle, especially the 'middle band' or 'shy' pupils who are reluctant to communicate in class. All children have been able to contribute to whole school initiatives.
One teacher also feels that using a Learning Platform has contributed to her professional development, making her more confident in using ICT.
Home Use or 24/7 Learning
Equal access is seen as an important issue in the school. Ensuring equal access is not always easy but the school has done what it can to address the issue through the development of an 'e-centre' which is available three times a week, after school. Children on free school meals have free access to the centre but there is a small charge for others. The 'e-centre' was initially funded through a grant, but is now funded in the school budget after it was seen to have such a positive impact on pupils. If pupils have difficulty accessing Moodle they are also encouraged to use the local community library where access is free.
Logs within Moodle show that peak usage is just after school for a couple of hours. The school emphasises the importance of other activities outside of school such as physical pursuits and arts, and does not see the Learning Platform as a threat to this but as one way to develop social communication alongside other interests.
At first the teachers were reluctant to embrace 24/7 learning, feeling it would be too demanding and time consuming.However, after a period of using Moodle it has been found that a few minutes here and there at home has had a very positive result for some children.
Pupils have generally found Moodle quite easy to use and navigate their way around very quickly. Pupils with special needs or less able readers do struggle at first though and need more time to get used to using the Learning Platform.
The first time you use Moodle as a teacher it does take some time and adds a bit to the workload. In a short time this becomes less pronounced and you find you can do things quite quickly.
Occasionally you will get pupils logging on as each other. Broad Oak uses logging on as an opportunity to reinforce e-safety, that passwords should not be shared, but if it does happen any misuse can usually be traced through the logs.