[pulledquote]One of the most compelling arguments for using Moodle is that learning does not have to stop at the school gates. Over the years I have witnessed some excellent Moodle practice that engaged students in meaningful learning tasks at home. Whilst this is great, it can also have a negative effect – some students work too late into the night.[/pulledquote]
Moodle & sleep deprivation
I work at a secondary school where most of our students are between 11 and 18 years old. It is a known fact that teenagers need a lot of sleep for their brain to develop fully, yet I have noticed that many of our students do their homework on Moodle way past 11PM, some as late as 3AM! Some of my colleagues keep telling me that this is a ‘Hong Kong’ issue (where I work), but according to this study sleep deprivation is an international problem. Regardless whether this is a local or international issue, it is starting to really worry me.
While parents are responsible for their own children when they are at home, I strongly believe that it is our duty as teachers and Moodle users/administrators to ensure Moodle does not disrupt our students’ life. Some parents do not feel comfortable dealing with problems caused by the use of ‘technology’ and we must ensure that they know what is acceptable/not acceptable in terms of using Moodle at home. One could argue that Moodle is used so late only because students were busy doing ‘something else they shouldn’t have’ earlier in the evening. Whilst this might be true, we are still the ones responsible for asking students to use this technology.
An old problem?
I have worked in the education sector for the past 10 years and I pretty much started using online resources/e-learning since day one so I am not sure whether this is a new problem or one that’s been around forever but that we simply couldn’t monitor. What has changed for me is that I pay more attention to how Moodle is actually used and its impact on my students’ life, and it seems as though this problem is worsening.
What are some solutions?
Disclaimer: I have not yet done anything about this issue.
Before fixing an issue you must ensure that there is a problem with students logging in to Moodle too late. There might only be a few individuals taking part in online learning too late, in which case a chat with the individuals might be enough. Again, this is a problem in my case – Moodle is used to support learning in & outside the classroom for teenagers. This might not be an issue for you if you teach at a university for example.
Educate students & parents
The first step I will be taking to tackle this issue is to remind students of the importance of doing homework when set and not at the last minute. I will also be sending an email home reminding parents that students should not be working late on Moodle. I will keep monitoring the issue and act accordingly.
Black out period
If all else fails, I am thinking of placing Moodle under maintenance mode at night e.g. from 11PM until 5AM. This disables Moodle and prevents any access to it. This will be a difficult decision to make as it will have repercussions on all Moodle users, as Moodle will only be usable by administrators whilst it is in maintenance mode. Such a decision can only be made if all of the stakeholders have been approached. Staff, parents, senior management and students should all be asked for their opinion before making the move.
How is Moodle used in your school? Do too many students login too late to Moodle? Have you already taken steps to tackle this issue? Please share your thoughts by dropping a comment.
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