I conducted a survey at my
current previous school (December 2010) and am sharing some of the results here. Some of the results confirmed findings through observation, some were obvious, others not so much. I used the ‘Questionnaire‘ module to create and deliver the survey (all through Moodle) and then exported the results to Excel to perform a more refined analysis than the module would allow. Unfortunately, for privacy reasons I cannot release all of the results. If you have conducted similar surveys, please leave a comment 😉 – Clicking on the pictures will show you a larger version.
A bit of background information
The school I
currently work worked at is K-12 but Moodle is only used in the High School, with a tad over 300 students on roll and 60 teachers/teaching assistants. I have heavily customised our Moodle installation and teachers now use it to record achievements (credits & house points) as well as take the attendance electronically.
84% of students answered this survey, making it highly reliable.
Question 1 – How often do you logon to Moodle?
This one I already knew the answers to simply by looking at the site logs, but it is always nice to see what the students actually perceive their usage of Moodle to be. It turns out that students underestimate their use slightly. 90% of students log on at least once a week, with 2/3 at least once a day.
Question 2 – Do you find it difficult to find your way around Moodle?
This one is interesting as teachers often complain that “it is hard to navigate around”. It turns out that the vast majority of students are fine with it, though take a look at Question 8 for some more interesting findings. Year 7’s are the ones struggling the most with Moodle, which makes sense as it is their first year of using the system. Check out our Moodle homepage, to which I added a HTML table with icons and hard-coded HTML links to sections to make it easier for students to get to their courses.
Question 3 – Does Moodle help you learn new things?
It is very difficult to quantify the benefits of using Moodle, or a VLE when it comes to learning. We all know that it helps, but to what extent? It is not something I have been able to quantify yet, but I was very interested to find out whether students find Moodle a good first-hand learning tool. It turns out that about 2/3 of students think they can learn things directly from Moodle. Not bad, is it?
It is interesting to note that answers varied wildly between Key Stages. Courses tend to be much more difficult between KS3 and KS4 (exams at the end of KS4) and that might explain why half of KS4 students felt that Moodle is not a good first-hand learning tool.
Question 4 – Does Moodle help you revise things you learnt in lessons?
One of the obvious benefits of Moodle is that students can revisit what has been done in lesson (if the course is up to date). Every year, I also notice a jump in use before mock exams, end of year exams and finals (IGCSE, IB). I wanted to see whether these extra ‘logins’ are the result of an exam panic or if students really value Moodle as a decent learning tool. The results surpassed my expectations with 85% of students thinking that Moodle helps them with their revision, up to a staggering 95% for our IB students.
Question 5 – Not displayed
Students were asked which subject was their favourite Moodle course in. I do not feel comfortable sharing this data as it can be linked to individuals/professionals. If you are reading this and work at St Andrews International School Bangkok, then you know the results 😉
Question 6 – Explain why it is your favourite course on Moodle
Students were required to write sentences. I read all of the answers and assigned keywords to each of them and then sent those keywords to wordle.net to generate a word cloud (bigger words are mentioned more often). Students like well-resourced (mostly documents used in lessons), clearly organised (labels used for units) and colourful courses (pictures, coloured labels, etc.). No surprises here, apart that I was expecting more mention of ‘forums’, ‘blogs’ and participative tools. Maybe students see these as a given?
Question 7 – Choose 3 of your favourite Moodle features
Many teachers have developed great courses at my current school, and some really want to know what students actually like. I’ll let you take a look at the results below, be sure to look at the differences between Key Stages. ‘Credits’ and ‘Attendance’ are in-house developments (adapted from several third-party modules)
Question 8 – In less than 4 sentences, explain what you like and don’t like about Moodle
This question left me puzzled for a while. How can ‘Navigation’ be both a ‘like’ and a ‘dislike’. After re-reading the comments, it turns out that some students complained about actual course pages not being organised properly (lack labels, unit names, etc.). So teachers, beware – organise your courses! I was also most surprised that reliability is the main issue students complained about, yet nobody ever comes to see me about it. I’ll need to investigate further when coming back from holidays. Most students complained that some courses are not updated often and do not reflect all of the hard work that goes on in lessons. Overall, the comments were very positive and students value Moodle as a great learning/revision tool. One thing that *really* surprised me was that a lot of students do not like ‘enrollment keys’ and would like to be able to view all courses on Moodle…
Question 9 – If you can, name at least one thing you would like Moodle to do
The main comments here refer to ‘Homework’ as you can see. This does not mean that students were silly in their answers and expect Moodle to do their homework for them (I’m actually surprised nobody answered that :)). We have a student database at my current school, which includes a ‘homework database’, where teachers record due homework and assignments. Students would like to see a merging of the two systems, or at least a better integration between the two – my next job on my TODO list. Students want more games and a ‘Chat’ system. I’ll run INSET on how to use the ‘Game’ module in a couple of weeks but don’t know what to make of the ‘Chat’ features. If you have any feedback on this, I’ll be glad to hear what your thoughts/experience are on this.
So, what does this mean for us teachers?
- Keep using Moodle – Students do find it useful and value it.
- Use it regularly – Students find up-to-date courses the most useful.
- Organise your courses – It is worth spending a few hours spring-cleaning your folders, adding labels, colour-codes, etc.
- Make them pretty – Adding a few images, some media will make your courses more attractive to students.
I hope that you have found this useful. I have tried to cover the main points here, but do get in touch if you want clarification on certain points and I’ll update this page.
Edit: here is a PDF copy of the questionnaire I used. Unfortunately, I could not backup the questionnaire in Moodle format. I’ll keep looking, though it did not take me long to do it from scratch.