Recently, I started developing a demo course in a Moodle installation hosted on my site. The latest version of Moodle is so powerful and useful. It shows the dedication of the thousands of people who have contributed to its continued success. Having been a fan for many years, I have enjoyed watching its progression from simple to cutting edge. As I contemplate my future, I have decided to start using Moodle on my private site for more than just testing plugins and ideas. Instead, I want to create an actual, usable site similar to that which I created for a corporation I used to work for. Here are three things I have been thinking about since I started this process two days ago.
Know Your Moodle’s Purpose
In the past, my Moodle installations have been used for testing purposes. Now, I know that I want it to resemble what I would present were I teaching at the secondary level. The purpose of the site must be understood. Using it for K-12 will require slightly different approaches than post secondary and much different approaches from those used in corporate settings. Having already hacked a Moodle for a corporate LMS, I can speak to this confidently. Depending on the purpose, there are plugins to consider, appearance choices (especially theme!), and layouts to design to best accommodate each type of learner.
That brings me to an important point. This site isn’t about me; it’s for those who will view it and/or use it. So, while I might think something’s groovy, that may not align with others’ thinking. That makes knowing the site’s purpose all that more important.
Creating a site for grades 9-12 is more in line with Moodle’s tradition and history, but it is being used in corporate settings more in recent years. Still, putting this one together ought to be a lot easier than what I have done in the past – as long as I stay true to its purpose.
Plan Your Moodle
Deming and those who practice Total Quality Management (TQM) are not kidding when they stress the importance of planning. I typically spend over 40 hours preparing one one-hour presentation; imagine how long this project is going to take! Still, planning is important.
It’s also important to not get mired in details and plans, though. I will never finish that way. So, using the rest of Deming’s framework, I will Plan, Do, Check, and Act. Using an iterative process (oh no, agile!), I can get close to done without taking forever, as one would with the waterfall method of anything. Since learning of him in 2006, I have returned to Deming’s ideas many times. They continue to make the most sense. They are simple, and yet rich and deep.
With Deming and Sutherland (a founding father of Agile) in mind, perhaps I will even think in terms of sprints! I did not with the corporate Moodle; instead, I tended to respond to needs and satisfy my own whims. I don’t think that would be a good idea this time, and I must learn from my mistakes.
Rehearse Your Moodle
Today, I finished listening to Carmine Gallo’s The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, and the one practice that Steve Jobs never sacrificed before a big address was rehearsal. He rehearsed for hours upon hours. Many of us cannot say the same, myself included. Although I prepare a presentation for many hours, I do not typically rehearse said presentation for more than a few. Well, with a site that is supposed to show who I am as an educator, I think it probably best to beta test it, which is the software world’s version of rehearsal. If you are interested in being a beta tester, please leave a message in the comments. I’ll be sure to contact you.
I’ll leave you with some quotes about success I find valuable (DeMers, 2014).
“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.”
— Steve Jobs
“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”
— Bruce Lee
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
— Colin Powell
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
— Albert Schweitzer
“Fall seven times and stand up eight.”
— Japanese Proverb