With limited time and a (seemingly) unlimited number of standards to cover, the suggestion that teachers ought to encourage students to “keep trying until they get it” seems just a tad bit unrealistic. Waiting for every student that begins at any one of a range of starting points to achieve mastery of every standard would take months of time we just don’t have. Yet any teacher would acknowledge that our kids would achieve exactly what we want them to if given enough opportunity to do so.
Further complicating the matter, however, is the fact that the same student may take different amounts of time to master different types of standards. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to education that truly works. Differentiation is imperative–whether it be in terms of content level, learning style, or number of tries. And whereas Moodle is the ultimate differentiation platform (a case I will make in a later post), one of its strengths lies in its ability to allow teachers to differentiate in this particular aspect: time.
With Moodle, “Keep trying until you get it” is finally realistic.
Moodle’s unique and beneficial features rest in the number of parameters you can set for a given module. Taking your course online with Moodle eliminates the budget constraints of paper and teacher grading time that would be required to give students the opportunity to try everything as many times as they needed to in order to master it. So students can literally keep trying until they get it–wherever and whenever you will allow them to do so. This is as simple as creating a quiz and allowing students an unlimited number of attempts. A teacher can even allow attempts within the quiz, question-by-question, with increasing penalties for attempts in an effort to encourage getting it right on the first try for a question on the next attempt. And while some may take a little longer to master a specific target, others can move on in a well-planned course.
There are ancillary benefits to running your classroom this way with Moodle as well. Students who know they have the freedom to try until they get it experience less stress and a different attitude toward learning. The impulse to cheat is reduced. Intrinsic motivation is cultivated. Those who achieve proficiency earlier are not held back, and those who require more time are not left behind. Class becomes less of a student-versus-test race against the clock and calendar. Learning gets the opportunity to be redefined.
Using Moodle (iLearn) allows teachers to change the fundamental nature of learning as it occurs in their classrooms, enables differentiation on a number of facets, and can be one of the best ways they can use technology to do more than simply substitute for one of the many relics of strategies and tools we still use in our instruction.