It’s disheartening how much people underestimate the value of the Moodle chat system. Given the popularity of gamification and social, organizational learning models pressuring out the old classroom concept out of the spotlight, a communications methodology to match this non-locational, social experience in learning is going to be a must.
People try to come up with crazy work arounds to facilitate this, like tying in Skype, social networks, AIM or other communications backbones. You can do this, of course, but it’s silly when you can get this functionality out of Moodle chat just as effectively.
Granted, working in social networks and other stuff partially isn’t an awful idea, but for a backbone to do gamification and social learning, it’s perfect. But, along with people foolishly trying to reinvent the wheel, there are those that just don’t see the power of learning with this kind of technology.
Those still stuck on the old classical ways of learning, with linear classes, course reading and periodic tests, will probably not see the value of this beyond students being able to talk to the teacher when the need for this arises. However, it’s time to let go of the fixation on these archaic learning models anyhow.
Imagine a world where discussion-based lectures, where the audience can engage the speaker, are easy to do within your course framework. Imagine group exercises and projects with teacher supervision (to enable flipped classroom models) instantly.
Imagine the ability to have students watch a video via Moodle, together, and discuss what they’re watching among themselves and with a teacher. This chat system allows for an exercise in open intellectualism, encouraging the students to think, to exchange ideas and solutions, while the teacher guides them down their general path.
I know this all sounds a bit grandiose to be talking about in advocacy of a chat plugin, but it’s really a core tool to have available if you want to approach these new learning strategies.
As for how well it works, it works just like any group chat and instant messenger, with a discussion to the left, a list of users to the right, and a simple text box below to submit messages. I can’t say I care too much for the aesthetic the messages use, with gradient borders around them in stead of just RTF text. I never cared for that gaudiness with mobile messaging either, with those stupid speech balloons.
But, that’s a tiny complaint that really shouldn’t waver opinions one way or another, and can probably be modified if it’s that big of a problem, actually. If you’re used to any kind of group chat, such as IRC, instant messengers, livestream chats or the like, then you can pick this right up and start using it because it works the same way.
Just, in the future, when you regard the Moodle chat functionality, don’t discard it as just a way for students to contact you. Embrace the communications integration that Moodle and its chat functions can bring you in rethinking the way training and education can work. Moodle is the platform designed to let new ideas be launched in the educational world.