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RUNNING HEAD: Minding Student Learning in Virtual Learning Scenarios

Minding Student Learning in Virtual Learning Scenarios


How Mindful Should Teachers be?
By Prof. Jonathan Acua Solano
Sunday, July 5, 2015
Twitter: @jonacuso
Post 178

Since I confess myself as an inquisitive educator, some time ago, I started toying
with the idea of getting rid of paper exams from my university courses at Universidad
Latina (Costa Rica), but how? I had a lengthy conversation with my school director, Mr.
Maynor Segura, about this assessment concern that was troubling my way of seeing
student evaluation in higher education. In Mr. Seguras office I simply asked him if the
university summative evaluation on course outlines was written on stone or if I could
modify the way that exams were administered in time as well as other course assignments
to have the chance of grading learners on a weekly basis through small projects or
segmented tests and learning tasks. I was told by the ELT Program Director that there
was no problem at all in making those changes, and that was colossal news for me. From
a mindfulness stance, grading students on single exams is just a way that does not
provoke deep learning, and that is the one fault with this way of student grading in
college; it is like if we are training them to fail in their deep learning and making them
rely on surface learning as a survival mechanism.

Prof. Jonathan Acua Solano

Minding Student Learning in Virtual Learning Scenarios

Summatively assessing students is always something to be mindful of; but finding


a suitable way to help them develop deep learning is a much more mindful act in
education. Though Moodle is not exactly the perfect CMS (Content Management System)
I wish I had to work with my learners, it is the one we have at the university that can
help us work on summative assessment mindfully if combined with additional and vital
ingredients to create the right learning virtual environment for higher education learners.
If used creatively within its array of possible learning options, this multimedia learning
resource can be of extensive use, thought-provoking, and helpful for learner assessment.
On account of Moodle, many positive things can be stated to trigger student deep learning
and, consequently, many different kinds of tasks can be employed to host hierarchical,
critical thinking skills. Anyhow, no matter what multimedia learning resource a teacher
gets to use, it must be kept in mind and well-explained to students what the instructors
social and teaching presence roles are and what sort of cognitive presence is demanded
from the pupil to successfully profit from their online experience in a Moodle virtual
ambience.
Not knowing the possibilities I have by using Moodle, from a mere empirical point
of view, I started using Google Sites as my unanimous choice to work with student deep
learning (critical thinking). PBL, something I was introduced to while studying through
the University of Oregon distant education program, came to help me design and develop
learning tasks for students on a Google Sites environment. And though Google Sites is a
good option to create a wiki where learners can visualize learning projects, Moodle can
do that much easier especially because it allows the instructor to create many different
kinds of learning exercises. With some basic instructional design training and the Moodle
guide for novice users, educators can create robust learning exercises in various Moodle
scenarios: from assignments, chats, databases, forums, lessons, and glossaries to

quizzes, Scorm packages, wikis, and so on. And if you spice all these kinds of Moodle
scenarios up with some PBL orientation, the product can be much more rewarding for
the instructor and for the learners; assessment can be fun and highly fulfilling for the

Prof. Jonathan Acua Solano

Minding Student Learning in Virtual Learning Scenarios

students and no need to have paper tests any more to see how much students are really
achieving from a surface learning viewpoint.
How can Moodle be improved to account for real deep learning and fulfill students
expectations in the creation of their own knowledge? Lets be mindful for some time and
think of how much we have learned in the field of education that can assist us in the
design and development of learning tasks for our students. First thing that pops up in my
mind is Blooms Taxonomy since I want to create activities that can accommodate
different levels of difficulty in terms of critical and hierarchical thinking. Second thing that
comes into my mind is the right encasements for a PBL (Project-Based Learning) task
that can have students produce a deliverable that suits the learning objectives in the
course outline and that can help them construct their own knowledge. Finally, pupil
training on the usage of the platform is a must. If learners are not trained, they are bound
to fail. Training is indeed important, so take advantage of the F2F contact with them
during class time.
To sum up, any kind of multimedia learning resource that can come into our design
and development of virtual lessons needs to be considered from all angles to envision
what can happen and unscrupulously leave learners to their own fate. A mindful
professional with a bit of instructional design over his/her shoulders will find the right
way of working with students to help them build their knowledge, achieve course learning
goals, assist them when having trouble with the CMS/Moodle, walk them through PBL
tasks that summatively aids the teacher to evaluate the accomplishment of course
objective, etc.

Prof. Jonathan Acua Solano