Don't let Moodle overwhelm you
Moodle is big. You can do all sorts of educational stuff with Moodle, so much stuff, that beginners can be overwhelmed by all there is to learn. Is it necessary to master all of Moodle right away? Of course not.
Start with modest goals like posting lesson plans and links to useful resources and go from there. Take your time and be patient. If you do have difficulty learning to do some of the more sophisticated things, turn to the Moodle community for assistance. In a few months, you will be Moodling like a champ!
Don't dominate discussions
It is a sometimes necessary to guide students a bit in the forums. You give a nudge here and a nudge there. That's fine. But try to avoid posting too much yourself. Stimulating the discussion is one thing; dominating the discussion is another!
Don't assume that the coolness of Moodle will inspire or motivate your students
Many teachers are amazed and impressed by what Moodle can do. Astonished, even. They simply assume that their students will share their enthusiasm. Well, maybe... But remember that it is good teaching (online or otherwise) that inspires students. Don't expect Moodle to do the teacher's job.
Don't violate copyright laws
If you inappropriately borrow the works of others, your students will do so, too. That is probably not what you are trying to teach them.
Don't forget to check users' profiles
Sigh... Some students have questionable judgement. You never know what they will post to their profiles. Best to check now and again. Depending upon your school system, your local laws, and your personal beliefs, of course, you may or may not do anything about what you find, but it is best to at least know what's there.
Don't encourage users to run Power Point presentations in their browsers
Teachers with content they developed in PowerPoint want to use it in Moodle as a jump start. And student/users want to simply click on a PowerPoint (PPT) presentation and run it inside their browsers. This usually works out pretty well, but not always. You will have far fewer complaints and problems if your users download PPT presentations to their desktops and run them from there. Encourage them to do so. By the way, this is not a Moodle problem; it is a browser problem.
Do not upload large PPTs if your Moodle disk space is limited.
If you want to provide the original presentation, it would be nice to also provide handouts or an outline in addition. The student can choose the most personally convenient option.
Here are some alternatives:
- Convert your PPTs to .swf files using Open Office. The only disadvantage is that you will lose any animations.
- Print PPT handouts to a .pdf file and have your students download/view that as a resource.
- Use one of many Moodle features instead of PPT.
- Present a PPT with Flash
- Use PPTminimizer to dramatically reduce PPTs size.
Don't be afraid to experiment
Moodle is designed to be played with. Set up a test course for yourself and experiment with the different modules - you can't break anything!
Or setup localhost on your own computer. It's easy and you won't have to wait for the screen to refresh from your MoodleServer.
Don't be distracted by shiny stuff
Just because you can do something in Moodle does not mean that you should do it or have to do it. Moodle is very robust software and many of its features are fun to play with. That is cool, but, remember, the point is not to build a cutting-edge web site (although that really is a lot of fun). The point is learning.
- What is it you want your students to know?
- What is it you want them to be able to do?
Let those questions dictate how you use Moodle.
Don't Worry about it!
Remember the initials I.E. for "Ignore" and "Explore". Ignore the things you don't need, or that you come across and don't understand. When you need something, explore and find. There is very little you can really do wrong, and there's not much to break. Wherever you can really mess up (like deleting something permanently) you are given a pretty clear warning, so you can't really go wrong in experimenting - and if you do, editing to fix is easy. When in doubt, have your administrator create a "sandbox" course for you where you can play and destroy and play again. Remember, computers and applications are for you to use, not be used by.