My MOLE and Me

My MOLE and Me

Author: Mark Sandlin

This Sophia Learning Packet exists to give a personal word of testimony from a MOLE lover. Learn here why a missionary educator in Thailand thinks MOLEs are magnificent!

What is a MOLE?  It's a Managed Online Learning Environment (also known as a course management system, a virtual learning environment, a social networking service, e-learning, etc). One of the most-widely used is a free MOLE called Moodle.

While recently taking fully-online graduate courses using Moodle as the medium I found myself enjoying the message of the classes--but also falling in love with the medium!  Shortly afterwards, I began researching the idea of using Moodle or an equivalent e-learning platform to teach my own high school classes (which are in English) and also my seminary class (which is in Thai). In the end I decided on using the free MOLE Edmodo

So far it's been a great success. It even works with Thai-language text. 

Here are ten reasons I took a MOLE into my classroom and how the MOLE is helping me to be a better teacher.

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1. My MOLE is a manager.

I am not naturally organized. A MOLE allows (practically forces) me to group, categorize, and label things. My MOLE, Edmodo, is divided into the separate grades and classes I teach, and in the individual classes I can place my documents, Powerpoints, videos, and assignments into neat, separate folders illustrated by little yellow folder icons. This really beats my previous filing system called the Immense Pile On Desk System (IPODS).

2. My MOLE makes me cool.

I wasn’t trying to be cool.  I just wanted something I could hang my class on, like one might hang a suit of clothes. However, the result of having a MOLE is that I seem more modern and tech-savvy.

3. My MOLE keeps me in touch.

Did I mention that I was disorganized? My MOLE allows me to keep the dialogue going with my students even after they’ve school left for the day.  An added benefit is that I can fix something I misspoke or add something I left out. I can put "endnotes" onto my lectures.

4. My MOLE helps my memory.

This relates to my first reason. With a MOLE I don’t have to rely on some data or dates long since effaced from my whiteboard.  Dates and times are recorded automatically by the MOLE software.  I also have a digital record of students’ comments and what they said or didn’t say.

5. My MOLE moves with me.

Most MOLES are “cloud-based”. The more of my coursework on the MOLE, the more mobile I can be. I am able to bring home less paperwork and fewer files, and I require less copying onto a thumbdrive, because my Powerpoints, documents, etc., are all on the cloud.

6. My MOLE is a clean, well-lighted place.

A MOLE suits my sense of aesthetics. Because it is not a backpack or briefcase stuffed with papers and books, it always appears tidy. Edmodo, which is designed to look much like Facebook, has an unalterable theme—but it’s hard to argue with basic white trimmed with blue.  My MOLE desktop, unlike my wooden desktop, seldom needs tidying.

7. My MOLE is (almost) all-inclusive.

I say “almost” only because my own work demands that my students also have paper assignments and face-to-face interaction. But my own fully-online grad studies have demonstrated clearly that today all necessary educational sources and resources are basically already in place.  A good MOLE is able to handle documents, slides, videos (even videos of the teacher lecturing)—any communications medium—and also has capability for student forums, the giving and submitting of assignments, the administering of quizzes and tests, etc. My own MOLE, Edmodo, recently introduced quizzing; it already had a gradebook.

8. My MOLE doesn’t bite.

Personally, I am no great fan of kids sitting in front of computer screens. I’d rather have them outside climbing trees or riding bikes.  But part of my reticence is because of the Internet’s dangers.  A well-chosen MOLE, however, can be a safe environment for a young student. My MOLE, Edmodo, despite being a free service, has NO advertizing, and I have yet to see a child approached via the MOLE by anyone outside the class. Once a class is set up, it is a closed system.  In several MOLES, like Edmodo and Schoology, students cannot even send messages to one another; all communication (except private messages between teacher and student) is done openly, on the “wall”.

Source: Image: http://www.squidoo.com/mole-killer-products (image text by packet author)

9. My students feel like they already know my MOLE.

My MOLE looks, feels, and works very much like Facebook, so the learning curve is not great. My students didn’t see Edmodo as something very different or confusing. And if there’s anything to be said for positive association, what child or teenager has anything negative to say about Facebook?

10. My MOLE is fun!

Using a MOLE does in one sense add to my workload, but it’s a good addition.  Almost everyone likes email, Facebook, etc., because it appeals to that universal desire to receive a letter in the mail. Students who never speak to me, and barely look at me, in the classroom, do speak to me on Edmodo. I am getting to know my students better because of my MOLE. I like the interface, and I like tweaking it to make it more interesting or useful. Perhaps it appeals to some sort of love of toys or gadgets. In any case, when I’m using my MOLE I hardly feel that I’m working.

Now that’s pretty neat.

Source: Image source: http://www.blizzo.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/02/mole_sketch_300.jpg (for mole. Mortarboard added by packet author.)