Well, about a week before school started last year I decided to do my pre and post testing for student growth using Moodle. It was a program our school used and I knew of another department who put their classes on there, so I thought I would check it out (mostly because it would grade the tests for me). I had given it a go a while before that, but was totally turned off due to the fact that it was kind of clumsy and really quite ugly.
When I was finally ready and started to really work with it, I was hooked.
I decided that if I could put my tests on Moodle, then maybe I should also consider having students turn their work in on Moodle, too. I had gotten multiple digital cameras from various grants and it was always a bear for me to have to take pics of student work for Artsonia. What if I had students take pictures of their work, upload it to Moodle? Not only did this work, but it also happens that Moodle will rename the files you download from your classes to be in alphabetical order matching up to the Artsonia roster perfectly! I also use this for students to write Artist Statements for their work and can use pair them along with test scores as evidence of growth in skill and understanding. And did I mention there are no more "no name" papers?
Then I started to think, if students are turning work in on Moodle, why not have students get their assignments from there, too? I like to think I am a pretty entertaining teacher - my knowledge and passion for art is something I am proud of, but I also realize that every now and again students will miss my class on a day when I am presenting, or that they may need another go at the information after the initial demo or presentation; some students might even finish way early and be ready to move on to the next thing. Using Camtasia and Screencast-o-matic, I started making videos of my presentations and demos for students to access over and over again if needed. Sometimes I even used them to intro to the class on my overhead and save my voice for more personalized instruction as I go from student to student around my classroom.
Now I understand that being innovative with technology is more than just having students create something with computers or consume something with it. It is about using it in a way that makes me more productive to be with students instead of in front of them all of the time. It is about merging my classroom into an environment of learning that allows me to make better use of my time and student's time so that we can be more productive.
I am definitely not totally there yet or have my Moodle class pages quite as pretty as I would like them, but I am still working on it. Here is a presentation given at MACUL 2012 by Cresta Wright that really helped me think of how to better organize my pages this year.
Do you use Moodle or another online class tool? How has it changed your classroom and what are some tips for making it work the best for both teachers and students?