The Biological Sciences course has over 300 new students every year. This poses a challenge for the professors in ensuring that their students consistently attend lectures and engage with the course materials. Thid can significantly impact students' performance in exams and contribute to higher dropout rates. Using a Learning Management System like Moodle can improve the situation by providing a virtual environment where teachers can share course materials, track student participation, and encourage online interaction, thereby fostering continuous student engagement throughout the course. The purpose of this intervention is to enhance teachers' skills in utilizing the Moodle platform, aiming to increase their proficiency and effectiveness in online teaching.
Enhancing teachers moodle literacy to improve students performance
Often, students lack consistent study habits throughout the semester and only begin to truly engage with the material shortly before exams. As a result, they often fail the exam immediately after the semester or sometimes don't even attempt it. This delay in progressing through their studies can make their career significantly longer than anticipated.
This situation causes frustration for students and leads to a significant delay in their entry into the job market. Naturally, it also frustrates their teachers, who face an increased workload due to the excessive number of exams for their students that were unable to pass previously. Additionally, the cumulative effect results in a low evaluation of the course by the University and the Ministry, leading to a decrease in funding received.
Given the large size of the course, teachers often struggle to monitor their students' activities during the course with the necessary attention and precision, as well as provide adequate motivation for those who need it.
The Learning Management System platform available at the University of Palermo could be a useful tool to assist teachers in their teaching activities, particularly in these cases. However, currently, most of the instructors in the Biological Sciences program do not use the platform. This is mainly because they find it difficult to use and have not received sufficient training. Some other instructors do employ it, but often only to a limited extent.
By increasing teachers' skills in navigating Moodle and developing effective course materials, student engagement and learning outcomes will be enhanced. The intervention also aims to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing among teachers, creating a community of practice where they can exchange experiences, best practices, and collectively support each other in utilizing the platform to its fullest potential.
Firstly, classroom training sessions will be organized to engage the teachers and to equip them with the necessary skills for effectively utilizing the LMS. This training will empower them to navigate the platform and start to develop some basic course materials in a successive asynchronous
Afterwards, there will be other three or four synchronous sessions, every second week, for introducing more advanced aspects, discussion and experience sharing, while in between teachers will perform asynchronous activities on the platform like create more advanced material, assessment activities exploiting the platform's capabilities. Teachers will also be encouraged to leverage the LMS's analytical tools to monitor student progress. These tools will enable them to track individual and overall class performance, identify areas of improvement, and provide targeted support to struggling students.
Additionally, asynchronous communication channels such as forums and chat features will be utilized to foster collaborative learning and as an example of the platform capability.
Furthermore, active teaching methodologies will be implemented through the Moodle platform. Teachers will design interactive activities, such as quizzes, group projects, and multimedia/interactive presentations, to promote student engagement and critical thinking.
Short video tutorials (10 min)
Example material on the moodle course
Tutorials and manuals available online.
The activity will be implemented at the University of Palermo and will last two months, including asynchronous activities and synchronous meetings.
The expected outcomes of training teachers in the use of the Learning Management System platform to improve student performance are twofold. Firstly, teachers will acquire the necessary skills to effectively utilize the platform, enabling them to monitor student activities, provide timely feedback, and encourage active engagement throughout the semester. Secondly, by leveraging the platform's features such as document sharing, online discussions, and assessments, teachers can create a more interactive and dynamic learning environment. This enhanced teaching approach is anticipated to foster greater student participation, comprehension, and overall performance, leading to improved academic outcomes.
The skills required to effectively use the Moodle platform are not specific to this particular group of teachers. Therefore, this training activity could be replicated for teachers from other departments, as it aims to enhance their proficiency in utilizing the platform for improved teaching and learning outcomes in a general way.
This CPD scenario describes a User case in which lecturers develop their competence in teaching in higher education and designing interactive teaching and how to engage and motivate students and how to facilitate discipline specific thinking and organizing peer-feedback and collaborative learning and how to use specific digital tools in teaching for a pedagogical goal and how to use blended learning and develop attitudes in supporting student development and enabling students’ well-being in a learning process and inclusivity.
The approximate duration of a User case that follows this scenario is several months.
In this CPD scenario the participants are using a very short open online course, a micro mooc (μmooc) and professionalize in a close connection to their own teaching practice (at their workplace) and meet in person on location with the training staff and with other participants.