GitHub is one of my new tools for 2014
GitHub is one of my new tools for 2014

A short history of my use of Moodle as a Teaching Tool

Over the years, I have used many tools in my teaching. Finding and using new tools is never a problem for me, in fact sometimes I jump from tool to tool without reaching a level of depth in some of them.

I’ve been using Moodle as my Learning Management System (LMS) since 2003. I was the leader of using this on my campus and then was asked for my input for as a possible use as the LMS of choice for the Tecnológico de Monterrey back in 2005. My students had written good comments about Moodle on my teaching evaluations which apparently filtered up to the administration at “central office” and they asked for my input. In the end they decided to go with Blackboard but I have pretty much continued with my own use of Moodle and supporting it as a platform for colleagues.

Later I was asked by the Computing Science Department at the University of Alberta to present Moodle as an option as a department level LMS and provide support for their migration to Moodle back in 2006. That system remained running up until the entire university moved to Moodle (from Blackboard). I like to think I played a role in triggering that transition but I really am not sure of the full story as I was already back in Mexico when that happened.

Why Moodle?

Back when I first started using Moodle with my students it was this amazing tool they had never experienced. I have always found that my students are more engaged when I am using the latest tools even if the latest tools are not great. My students appreciate my willingness to find new tools for them and I have seen this in my comments over the years.

Remember that this was before Google+, this was before Facebook and in fact was before MySpace. Moodle was new and shiny and something the students and most of the faculty had not yet experienced.

I really like Moodle, it works well and I am familiar with it; but sometimes we need to try something else.

My Tools for 2014

So I have been searching for something else. Thanks to input from colleagues both local (Gildardo Sánchez) and remotely over various Twitter chats and blogs, I have decided to try Schoology as my main LMS.

I will be combining this with videos posted to my YouTube channel, sharing of documents through Google Drive, surveys and feedback through Google Forms.  That is a lot of Google applications which is nice since work well together as well as with others (I can view my Schoology calendar within my Google Calendar). There are some other tools I have already used in the past and will continue to use in 2014. These include Socrative for quick in-class engagement as well as tools specific to my area of  teaching (computing science) like GitHub, Eclipse, Python, Emacs, and more.  GitHub has a program for academics (students, teachers and admins) and just provided me with free private repositories for my classes which I am really looking forward to using in 2014.

What tools are you using this year?

Let me know, is there something else I should be looking at? How are your tool choices different from mine?

7 thoughts on “Teaching Tools for 2014

  1. Hi Ken. This period of the year I will be using different tools as my LMS. First, I will be using Class Dojo for Behaviour Management System (although I teach in High Shool my students love Class Dojo), next I will be using Educreations for the management of my videos (Educreations let me see who has watched my videos and when, so I can have a record of viewing of my students), then I will be using Exit Ticket as a grading management system (Exit Ticket grades the quizzes in real time so I can make instant feedback to my students giving me more time to give content rather than spending 3 hours grading the quizzes). Finally my blog, which you can see here it is still in the beta version but I have integraded google calendar and google sheets. I want my blog to be a space of communication for parents, teachers and my students.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Samuel! I’m glad you started the blog as well, I’ll add it to my RSS feed (another tool I use: Feedly).

  2. Hi Ken,

    I’ve used the Github academic program for two years now. It’s great.

    Piazza is another one I’m interested in for a class that has a lot of discussion ( So far, my students are not naturally inclined to discuss things and I have learned how to entice them into more conversation.


    1. Thanks Cam, I have not looked at Piazza yet but just added it to my stack of tools to try out. Have a great semester, hope to see you at SIGCSE in Atlanta!

  3. Hello Mr. Bauer

    Congratulations on being an innovator. I am starting my own blog and will share my experiences. I’ll check the tools explained here and see what other used they will have.

    All the best for the next semester!

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