Facilitating project and problem learning with the use of ICT tools such as Moodle

Posted by Krištof Kranjc, on March 13, 2023, 9:53 a.m.

Natalija Sitnikova, Krištof Kranjc

Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, University of Ljubljana, Večna pot 113, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia


Challenge, goal and topic

The university educational system, know-how and teaching techniques have seen vast progress since the 1960s, when more pedagogical approaches have entered the field of higher education. However a lot of educators still tend to use only older methods of teaching, such as lecturing, which is a type of teacher-centred instruction and mostly includes the lecturer’s explanation while their students remain as passive observers and listeners. While this form of lessons can be very frugal with time and can be seen as a ‘simpler way out’ it isn’t as engaging from both sides and does not contribute to active learning and knowledge-building. This in turn can lead to knowledge that isn’t based in real-life experience, that is non-transferable and difficult to apply.

Two of the types of active education which have been gaining traction ever since the pedagogical changes to higher education have been problem-based learning and project-based learning. The first one deals with a shorter, open-ended problem, while the second one helps students delve into a deeper problem or challenge, which usually stems from their surroundings. The students try to synthesize answers to complex questions about the topic assigned. This helps them acquire deeper understanding about the topic and several essential skills.

These types of methods can be very beneficial to both students, but also to teachers. For students, it is a chance to be encompassed by a more engaging environment, where they can develop essential skills, such as teambuilding and research proficiency. This can in turn lead to higher learning satisfaction levels, thus rising motivation. For teachers this can help break off from routine and provide more in-depth engagement with the students. Both educational models can expand and educator’s repertoire of pedagogical strategies which can lead to a greater job satisfaction.

While these two models are a wonderful tool in an educator’s toolbox of methods, setup can be a daunting process. This can be alleviated and helped by using complex ICT tools, such as Moodle. A lot universities and especially a lot of STEM programmes use Moodle on an everyday basis already and this versatile programme can be used for this purpose as well.

While Moodle is well-used, there are many functions which are avoided, underused or even unknown to users. Many users learn of functions, maybe use them a few times unsuccessfully and quit using them. Some users may know of some functions, but do not know or understand how to apply them in their Moodles. Some functions are actually more versatile than what they are currently being used for and can be used better. This is why it is important for a comprehensive guide on Moodle to be created.

Local context (specific)

Some teachers at UL FKKT already use both project- and problem-based learning, however these methods are mostly done without a proper guidance or involvement of a mentor, who gets to see only the end results. Learning to (better) use Moodle might facilitate a better system between the students doing the project and the teacher. There would be more control on both sides, which might lead to better end products.

Also learning more about Moodle and its functions might help teachers use the programme and other types of ICT more efficiently in their everyday work, which might improve teaching performance and professional satisfaction.

Local CPD goals

This project is very closely in line with the STEM-CPD Roadmap recommendation 3, guideline 4 which has to do with CPD-Ambassadors promoting relevant choices in digital tools. The goal is to spread awareness within the community to help with better use of ICT tools.

Another recommendation that is relevant for the project is recommendation 6, which deals with STEM-CPD community support for the sustainable development of teaching and learning in HE STEM disciplines.

Needs defined in STEM-CPD Roadmap

20 use digital tools in lab courses
5 be interested in their students' progress.
1 be reflective teachers and reflect about their courses / lectures.
8 discuss teaching with their colleagues.
9 attending workshops that are organized specifically for STEM lecturers.

CPD activities at the local university

Promote awareness about additional teaching methods and help teachers learn more about Moodle and its functions. Set an ICT ambassadors system within the STEM field to help spread the message.

Teaching and learning materials

Development of a microMOOC which will touch upon the subject of project- and problem-based learning and explain the implementation of said methods through relevant tool in Moodle.

Sustainable implementation

Hopefully if the MOOC proves successful, this will inspire STEM ambassadors to promote the use of Moodle and the implementation of different teaching methods into higher education.

Expected impact of the CPD User Case

  • To raise awareness of different, less traditional teaching and learning methods, such as projet-based and problem-based learning.
  • To help promote better and more efficient use of ICT tools, such as Moodle.

Plans for eventual continuation of the CPD within the same topic

To extend and diversify the specific cases of use of Moodle for project-based and problem-based learning and apply it to different STEM fields.

Blended learning (type P1-4b)

This CPD scenario describes a User case in which lecturers develop their competence in how to use blended learning and develop attitudes in supporting student development and enabling students’ well-being in a learning process and inclusivity and reflecting on own teaching practice and knowledge sharing.
The approximate duration of a User case that follows this scenario is several hours.
In this CPD scenario the participants are using a very short open online course, a micro mooc (μmooc).

Learning environment
Several hours

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