Moodle as an LTI Provider – The New Way to Share

I have been experimenting a little bit more with Moodle and LTI.  I truly believe this is HUGE.  I mean this is incredible stuff.  LTI which stands for Learning Tools Interoperability is a new way for systems like Moodle, WordPress, Joomla, MediaWiki, and other websites to communicate and share activities with each other.

For instance, I can create a really great lesson in Moodle and then I can share it with other LTI compliant systems and it will automatically populate my gradebook with their results as well as return results to the other system.  This is going to usher in a whole new way of thinking and sharing in education.   I can share an entire course, section, activity, you name it and I can share it outside of my Moodle.

Last week I was able to connect to ChemVantage and bring in Chemistry resources into our Moodle using LTI.  This week I am exploring the ability to share moodle activities and resources outside of my Moodle install.  I also am trying to get WordPress and Moodle integrated.  So far, not looking promising.  I am stuck on something  Wordpress LTI settings.

Check out this growing catalog of LTI Tools:  http://developers.imsglobal.org/catalog.html

Setup your Moodle to be a provider: http://docs.moodle.org/22/en/LTI_Provider

 

Teacher Filtering

As you are aware, the district is required to provide a filtered Internet experience. By federal law, we must filter access. However, the law has different scopes. For example, the filtering that we must do for students is different than the filtering that must be done for staff.

To that end, we have been working on providing appropriate access to all of our personnel. This is a much larger task than it sounds, but something that we have been working diligently on. We had previously opened up access to teachers to YouTube. We have continued to work on our filters and settings so that teachers have much wider access to the internet. I’m happy to report that we have made some substantial changes that allow teachers access to appropriate sites.

One of the challenges that we face is to communicate to teachers sites that are available to them, but blocked for students. Essentially, we don’t want teachers to create lesson plans that revolve around students accessing particular sites only to discover that those sites are blocked for students (but not teachers). This is why you may have to authenticate to get to some sites. Then we face another issue. Teachers don’t want to authenticate constantly. So we need some balance. For this reason, once a teacher authenticates, that starts a clock whereas the teacher won’t have to authenticate for a bit.

We are working extremely hard to provide the very best experience for staff and students. We do block a wide variety of sites that are inappropriate for the educational process. We are required to do so by federal law. It is also just the right thing to do.

Please note that we rely on algorithms for web site filtering. Occasionally, I get asked

“How could you block….”?

or

“How did you let …. get through for …. grade”?

We really don’t spend all day just looking at web sites to see if they are appropriate or not. We rely on complex rules and algorithms to make determinations. We then intervene as necessary.

*By the way, the same issues revolve around SPAM. Yes, occasionally a piece of SPAM does make it through our filter. However, we don’t read each piece of email prior to you receiving it. We eliminate literally thousands of SPAM emails for every single one that does make it through. 

Moodle – ChemVantage LTI Setup and Usage

Here is a great way to give access to Chemvantage videos, quizzes, and homework via Moodle.  Using LTI your Moodle website connects to ChemVantage and allows the two sites to communicate back and forth.   This means that a quiz taken using the embedded ChemVantage will be added to your Moodle Gradebook.  Automatically.  There has never been an easier way to add content to your Moodle course.

While this works for chemistry teachers, there are plenty of other LTI resources available.  One such resource involves using WordPress to give blog access to Moodle Users.  I am working on this and hope to have a working example soon.

Here is a video of how we connected ChemVantage with Moodle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X24tmYBKdNs

You will need to email ChemVantage to get LTI Credentials which allows your Moodle site to connect.

Music

One of the issues that comes up frequently is the issue of copyright (see the September 10th post). One of the areas that copyright has made the news is in music. Frequently, I get requests to open sites that are dedicated to music. Music can be powerful in education. It can help students focus. However, just because one has access to a music site, doesn’t mean that it is legal to play that everywhere. This quickly gets to be a grey area.

The sites that I’m most often asked to open, are sites that are designed to be listened to by an individual. These sites are not designed to be played for a group (that frequently includes schools). Reading through Terms of Service policies can be loads of fun (not really, usually it involves a bunch of “what?”, rereading and trying to figure out-1. what they meant to say, 2. what they really said and 3. what it means to schools legally).

That being said, there are some good resources on the web that can be used. One thing to look for is Creative Commons licensing. Creative Commons attempts to clarify what can be used and how (I use Creative Commons for everything that I publish). The idea behind Creative Commons is to make it easy to understand what can be used and how. For example, they have a license that says that you can use the material but must provide attribution as to who created it.

Please note that there is a difference between Royalty Free and Free. Royalty Free means that you don’t have on going charges to use the music. Frequently, Royalty Free music must be paid for in the beginning, and then you are “free” to use it. Royalty Free music is not usually what people (educators) are looking for.

So what’s this got to do with music? Well, since I’m receiving lots of requests, I thought that I’d find a couple of sites that teachers can freely use.

Kevin McLeod provides a wide range of music that you can download and use (with attribution). If you use any of the music in a presentation, add a slide with credit to Kevin for the music. [ There are ads on the page. Try clicking on any of the selections under Genre, Search, or Feel, then scroll down and pick a song. Click the arrow to listen, Click “download” to, well, download. ]

Musopen is another site that provides free music.

Musopen (www.musopen.org) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on improving access and exposure to music by creating free resources and educational materials. We provide recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions. Put simply, our mission is to set music free.

Again, please be wise about music usage. Just because it is technologically possible, doesn’t mean that it is the right thing (or legal) to do.

If you have questions, drop us a line.

 

HTML 5 BigBlueButton Web Conferencing

We just heard GREAT NEWS from the BigBlueButton Project – they are working on an HTML 5 client!  This is exciting news since many of our schools and teachers are purchasing iPads.  With the new HTML5 client these iPads will now benefit from BBB web conferencing.  Fred Dixon of BigBlueButton has worked tirelessly to make BBB one of the best open source projects.  During the few years I have known Fred, he has been incredibly active in promoting and solving problems with BBB users.  I have no doubt that his team will deliver the goods with a new HTML 5 user interface.  From installation to usage, BigBlueButton is top notch and fully integrated with many popular web apps like Sakia, Moodle, WordPress, Joomla, and more.

Dearborn Public Schools will be working with BigBlueButton to help test the HTML5 client.  We have several hundred iPads and utilize BigBlueButton with Moodle and WordPress.

Read more about the HTML 5 Project here:
https://mozillaignite.org/apps/374/

In Depth – A closer look at how one EFHS teacher is using Moodle

Introduction

Moodle is an incredible online learning tool.  In Dearborn Public Schools we have a very specialized installation of Moodle which we call iLearn.  Our Moodle install has the added features of web conferencing, real-time collaborative document editing, student portfolios, and several other features that are not part of the standard Moodle installation.  With iLearn teachers can create very interactive elearning opportunities for their classes.  Let’s take a look at a high school biology course setup by Mr. Robert Harrison of Edsel Ford High School.

Read moreIn Depth – A closer look at how one EFHS teacher is using Moodle

Email

Email is its very own phenomena. It was designed to share very short pieces of text. It has since grown exponentially in terms of what is shared and how. Email brings lots of frustration as well. Different people have different expectations. We can’t fix all of what is fundamentally broken with email, but here are a couple of reminders about email access through Dearborn Public :

  • must be used for official business
  • must not be used to send out personal information
  • please be thoughtful about email. Once one starts receiving too much, very little attention is paid to it.

As a point of reference, I recently received the email below from an employee. I’m sure that this is not the only person frustrated by the amount of email that we now deal with.

 I was wondering if you could tell me who the last word in the school district is regarding how the Email system is used?  I don’t know what … is going on this year, but I’m walking into work every day and spending like a half hour sifting through emails about sports tickets for sale, little Sophia jewelry parties thrown by teachers, and just a bunch of “thank god its almost Friday”  type banter.  … its getting so bad, I am missing out on the few important emails nestled between all the bull crap blanket deleting all the garbage.

We work to filter the SPAM that comes from outside the district (yes, I’m aware that some does make it through, but it is pretty impressive of how much we catch), but we have no way of filtering the “SPAM” that is generated by our own users.

Here are some additional thoughts about email:

  • Some research has been done which indicates that workers spend 28% of their work day dealing with email.
  • Respect your recipients’ time
  • Keep it short
  • Be wise about CC’ing

Email is a great tool. However, not everybody views email the same way. We can easily spend way too much time on email and not enough time getting other work done. Remember, just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

Great iBlog Websites

Hello Staff,

Here is some inspiration and a quick look at what other teachers/schools are doing using iBlog.

If you want to create a classroom website using iBlog, please login and create one today!
http://blog.dearbornschools.org

Feel free to contact me if you have questions on getting started.

Regards,
Chris Kenniburg
Webmaster, Dearborn Public Schools

Copyright

Several times a week, we get requests (or it comes to our attention) about doing things that may violate copyright. It is important to remember that just because we can do something, doesn’t mean that we CAN do something. Let me explain.

It is very easy to purchase a music track (song) through iTunes. Once that song has been downloaded, it is very easy to “share” (copy that file to someone else’s computer) song. However, that is blatantly illegal.

Teachers frequently feel that they are free to use anything that they want because they are covered by “fair use”. Fair use does cover the usage of some content, but it is not a catch all that protects everyone from everything. Fair use can be defined through the U.S. Copyright office (http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html):

Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair.

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

Here is part of the license from iTunes:

(i) You shall be authorized to use iTunes Products only for personal, noncommercial use.

Personal use doesn’t cover using it in classroom.

Again, this can be a complicated process. Technology frequently moves faster than the law. However, it is important that we model appropriate behavior for our students. In part, this means that we must stay in within the confines of the law.

iBlog Mobile

Introducing the iBlog Mobile App

Connect your mobile device to your iBlog website using the super sweet new app which allows you to take photos/video and publish it directly to your iBlog website.   How cool will you be with parents when they see you are totally connected and totally communicating with them! This means that you can literally post to your iBlog in seconds. This is faster and easier than any other options available.

With a couple of taps you can harness the power of iBlog and be on your way to connecting with parents and students.

Follow this tutorial to setup the wordpress mobile app-

 

http://dearbornschools.org/pd/web-tools/iblog/iblog-app-iphone-ipad-android

(Click on button on the right side that is grey and called – iBlog-Wordpress Mobile Install ). 

*Special Thanks to Mr. Chris Kenniburg for installing and developing the instructions. 

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