Ali Abdulsattar Abdulrahman, Ph.D. Biology

Overview

PanoptoI was really totally blind to many items regarding usage of technology before joining Chatham at Dec. 2011. Yes, I have a little bit knowledge on PowerPoint and Word for preparing lectures and while in 2012, I recorded my lectures using Panopto,  I wanted to KNOW, more and more.

So, I applied to the Technology Fellowship program in 2014 and entered with a healthy combination of ambivalence, skepticism, and lack of confidence.  Like a moth to a flame, I knew that I wanted to learn some new teaching skills and to see if some of this technology stuff was really helpful to me and students.

My project goals were:

  1. Gain confidence in the technology, especially doing Moodle quizzes and tests.
  2. Explore ways to deal with online quizzes in case of system collapse during the test.
  3. Become familiar with a variety of technology teaching tools that would help me save time grading as my graduate classes typically have no less than 40 students in a given term.
  4. Learn about technologies in order to improve my teaching in a way that makes items simple and easy to be absorbed by students.

Implementation and Assessment

In addition to learning more about the iPad, VoiceThread and other technologies, I experimented with learning Moodle quizzes and understanding the AIKEN file format needed to upload multiple choice questions. It is a very simple format, but also very specific regarding spacing and formatting. For example, the question must be all on one line. Each answer must start with a single uppercase letter, followed by a period ‘.’ or a bracket ‘)’, then a space. The answer line must immediately follow, starting with “ANSWER: ” (NOTE the space after the colon) and then giving the appropriate letter.

Which LMS has the most quiz import formats?
A. Moodle
B. ATutor
C. Claroline
D. Blackboard
E. WebCT
ANSWER: A

Which LMS has the most quiz import formats?
A) Moodle
B) ATutor
C) Claroline
D) Blackboard
E) WebCT
ANSWER: A

Successes and Challenges

The advantages of this approach are many. The convenience of being able to import questions into Moodle is worth the time and effort as it avoids quiz questions by having to be added one by one. In addition, once the questions are in Moodle, they are saved in a quiz bank, so they can be edited and reused in a later course. Since the AIKEN format includes the answers, Moodle will automatically grade the questions saving time for the instructor. Finally, online quizzes are useful for students to be able to review material in preparation for future exams.

The challenge to this approach is learning the AIKEN format and making sure the formatting is absolutely correct. A missed space, an additional period, or incorrect numbering can quickly halt the import process. Also, potential technical issues are a concern during any online testing. Having a backup plan is important when doing anything with technology.

Next Steps

I plan on implementing the Moodle quizzes into my BIO 503 in Fall 2015. I also plan to survey the students to see if the prefer online testing and make changes if needed. In addition, my goals for next year are:

  • Implement online quizzes for the MOT students
  • Continue to learn new technologies that will enhance my teaching
  • Continue to learn new technologies to help me become a more proficient technology user
  • Explore the variety of Anatomy Apps for the iPad for potential use in the classroom

Sherie Edenborn, Ph.D. Biology

Overview

In the Fall of 2012, I developed a series of paperless grading modules using Moodle and iClicker  to conduct weekly assessment in a large (50-100 students) microbiology class for students from the Shadyside School of Nursing.  The assessment modules (Figure 1 ) were integrated into three-hour classes along with activities such as case studies and lectures, and were designed to encourage the development of  basic learning behaviors defined in the cognitive domain of Bloom’s Taxonomy  (knowledge/remember, understand, apply, analyze). These modules do not require the students to have laptop computers in class.

Screen Shot 2013-03-06 at 10.24.56 PM

Figure 1. Example of a weekly Moodle module.

Implementation

Each week students were given a homework assignment in Moodle that was designed to help them gain a basic understanding of terms and concepts in microbiology (Knowledge/Remembering). When they came to class each week we reviewed and discussed this information during the first hour of class using an iClicker quiz (Understand).  After the iClicker quiz, the students were asked to use the knowledge they had gained to work through a case study (Apply). In the final hour of class, new information for the following week was introduced using a standard lecture format. After each class, students took a post-quiz using Moodle that integrated what they had learned from the homework, iClicker review, and case study.  This pattern was repeated each week  (Figure 2).

Screen shot 2013-03-06 at 5.44.09 PM

Figure 2. Use of Moodle homework, iClicker reviews and case studies to engage different thinking skills as described by Bloom.

Successes

  •  Polls and evaluations from students suggest that this approach improved their ability to retain information and apply what they had learned to real-world problems (see student comments).

Challenges 

  • Setting up three electronic quizzes each week and troubleshooting problems was more time-consuming than paper quizzes.
  • Students who had little experience with technology struggled at the beginning of the class.

Assessment

Student comments on teaching evaluations were largely positive (see below) and in-class polling suggested that the paperless system was preferred to paper exams.

STUDENT FEEDBACK ON PAPERLESS GRADING SYSTEM

POSITIVE REVIEWS

  •  I thought the iClicker was really helpful. We knew right/wrong answers immediately AND discussed them which helped learn information. The Moodle quizzes and homework also help solidify the content of the material. I also like the paperless path. Best of all, the instructor’s passion for microbiology was infectious. Get it? Infectious.

  •  This professor tried, for the first time I believe, to make this course completely paperless. I was worried because I am much older than most of the other students. However, I really liked it. I especially liked the clicker quizzes every week. There were some glitches, which I’m sure can be worked out, but when we took the quiz one question at a time we not only got the results immediately, but the professor then explained why a certain answer was right.

  • There was instant reinforcement. For me, it was a great way to learn. Waiting a week to get a quiz back and then finding out the right answer, I sometimes forget my thinking process in putting the answer that I did. This was so much better. Also, I appreciate the way the professor gave us the resources to be able to find answers as we move on in our nursing careers. She repeated certain topics throughout that she knew we would see in the hospital and gave us the skills to think critically about diseases. I very much appreciate that. I will miss the classes!

  • I liked the case studies and applying the knowledge I learning to working out problems. I liked how everything was online.

  • I loved being able to do the homework and quizzes online from the comfort of my own home and at my own pace.

  • I enjoyed the paperless testing.

  • Loved all the quizzes and clicker tests gave a chance to see the material multiple times and help me retain the information.

  • There is a ton of work but it is what reinforces the concepts and let me retain the info.

  • I enjoyed weekly clicker quizzes rather than larger tests. More work weekly but less stressful. Made class more enjoyable.

  • The best feature was the online assessments. She has this course set up for people to pass it. Plus, with online homework , and quizzes we didn’t kill tons of trees to complete the course. At first it seemed like a lot, but it was definitely manageable. With all of the assessments I also feel like we had a better opportunity to learn the information.

  • I was initially nervous about the majority of assignments being online, but by the end of the semester, I thought this system worked very well. It allowed the students to have a multitude of opportunities for points and how the assignments were layered (homework, clicker quiz, post-class quiz) truly did increase my understanding of the course content.

  • the weekly iClicker quiz was a way to keep me up to date on material. Labs were helpful too.

  • Paperless course is very nice concept! I enjoyed the format, and I think it especially applies to non-traditional students.

  • The best thing was the way she tested us. I liked the paperless system. Also, there were lots of opportunities for points.

  • Its best features are the fact that so much of it was online and Dr E lays out a very specific routine for quizzes and homework. You always know what is expected of you

  • I believe Dr. Edenborn has carefully constructed a wonderful way for us to learn through repetition & application of the material. I think this would be beneficial for other courses to consider using.

  • I found that the homework submissions, the clicker quizzes and post quizzes really made the information stick.

  • The way the Moodle modules were set up with the homework questions and post class quizzes was very beneficial in learning the material. I believe it helped in understanding and applying the material being taught.

  • I believe Dr. E. set the course up in a way to facilitate learning and retention of the material. It was one of the hardest courses I have taken but one in which I feel I have learned the most and will remember the most.

  • I think that implementing the paperless course went well.

  • I liked the clicker quiz every class. I also liked the tons of opportunities to get points in this class.

  • I loved the paperless format. The regular clicker quizzes and online assignments kept the class at a good pace. I retained a lot more information than if the entire class had had only a few tests.

  • I like the new integration of paperless tests and quizzes. I know it was the first year for it and I think it went very well. I like the constant application to real life situations, this definitely aids in learning.

  • I love how it was set up for weekly modules-this really helped me retain the information, because it was reiterated at least 2-3 times.

  • I liked the various learning techniques, even though getting it all done sometimes was challenging.

 NEGATIVE REVIEWS

  • I don’t like the way Moodle is set up. ALL assignments should be displayed in the drop down box, I missed a lot of assignments when the course started because I thought that’s how they were.

  • Well, a lot of her tests and quizzes come from Moodle and there have been more than one occasion where I was taking a quiz and my computer froze or I submitted it and it actually didn’t go through. I would appreciate it if when an error like this did occur if she would be a little more understanding and allow for one to retake it. I think it’s important considering the student actually WANTS to partake in the activity.

  • The online work was adequate but I did get penalized in the beginning of the semester by not taking the lab quiz which closes Friday. It was just strange with so many different due dates in one week.

  • What suggestions do you have for improving either the teaching or the materials of the course? Little bumps in the road with the paperless grading system

  • What suggestions do you have for improving either the teaching or the materials of the course?Learn how to use Moodle before using it with your students.Have you had special difficulties in this course? If so, how could they or how have they been helped? Not using Moodle.

Pedagogical or Teaching Value 

See student comments.

Next Steps

Cross my fingers, migrate the Moodle shell, and try the system out on my class in the Fall of 2013.

Resources