Individual Learning Plan (ILP) with Moodle 1.9

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Support and Enhance Food Technology, Product Design, Resistant Materials, Construction, and the Built Environment using Moodle VLE

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by Paul Taylor | May 2010 | e-Learning Moodle Open Source

This article by Paul Taylor, author of the book Moodle 1.9 for Design and Technology, will deal with a system that will allow students to reflect on their own work through the setting of targets by staff and themselves. As with all things in Moodle, there are a number of ways to achieve this, but perhaps the most accessible is the third party module called the Individual Learning Plan (ILP) activity module, developed and maintained by ULCC and available at http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?d=13&rid=1025&filter=1.

(For more resources on Moodle 1.9, see here.)

The ILP module, once installed and activated, allows you to set some quite detailed targets within courses and to fine tune reports to and about students in order to better motivate them in their learning. This type of power means that there are quite a few options associated with the module and you will need to use the ones that are best suited to your needs. There is also the capability to tie the system in with your institution's own Student Information System (SIS) or Management Information System (MIS)) through a database abstraction layer. If you require this level of integration, you will need to discuss this with your network team or the company that provides your Moodle hosting service. In the UK, at least you can discuss this functionality with a Moodle partner that specializes in system integration with MIS. You can find out more about this at http://moodle.com/integration/.

The installation process will install two modules: targets and reports, as well as a number of ILP related blocks for your courses such as Personal Learning Plan and Student Information. The modules and blocks that are installed as part of this package have a number of related settings associated with them, which will need to be adjusted at the site administration level. If you are the site administrator, you can do this; if not, you will need to ask the site admin to make the necessary changes.

Module settings: Targets and Reports

The basic settings required are to be able to set targets and view reports, though there are numerous levels and complexities to this activity. Again, you will need to adjust these as required. The settings are in the site administration panel. You will see two new icons for the ILP modules, as shown in the following screenshot, namely, Report and Target:

Each of these new modules has a corresponding settings link.

Report options

The settings for the report allow you to determine what reports are visible to staff and students, as well as what can be shared between students. Set the visibility and information as required by your particular course or institution. The first block of settings relate to how the reports are viewed and whether or not students are made aware of any interactions on the part of tutors, as shown in the following screenshot:

In this case, we are choosing to be able to see the status of each individual student and to send them messages when comments or concerns are posted. However, we have chosen not to show reports just within a course, as we are likely to teach students across the faculty. Therefore, it is more useful to get an overview of how they are working. The concerns we might highlight could be that a student has been missing key practical classes or has not attended their work placement.

The second block of settings determines what types of reports you would like to see. It may be that you are only responsible for a certain aspect of a student's learning, in which case you may not enable all of the reporting functions. In this case, we are choosing to see all reports, as shown in the following screenshot. This may be the case if you are a personal tutor for some students and wish to get a detailed overview of their progress and activities, as well as be able to talk to them about any concerns raised by other staff. For example, a student to whom you are a personal tutor might express an interest in Product Design and therefore you might consult with colleagues in this subject area to set key targets for the student to achieve. These targets and achievements can be discussed with the students or with the students and their parents, to make sure that they are working towards their desired goals in technology.

We can now save these settings in order to use all of these features on courses that we teach.

Target options

The settings for the Target module are similar—again the default for course-specific targets is disabled, which makes it easier to see student information across subjects. The main settings here, as shown in the following screenshot, relate to how messages are relayed to students about their targets. For example, there may be a modification to an exam board specification that makes a student's established target not such a high priority. If you are teaching students at a distance and do not see them regularly, then this would be a useful way to notify them of the changes.

ILP blocks: Personal Learning Plan (PLP)

The block element of ILP has several more settings that allow some customization of the block once initiated on your course page. It is shown under the add blocks menu as the Personal Learning Plan (PLP), showing that it is something that students have more ownership of as they can add targets and concerns themselves.

Main options

The default settings would be "No", but in this case, we would like the students to be able to see a complete range of information in relation to themselves and their courses in design technology. If the user guide link is set to 1, then it will show a link to the online guide for the module. This might be something to set up once everyone is comfortable with the use of the ILP.

Student information block

The final settings on the blocks page are for Student Info. The settings here allow you to customize messages and instructions for students in relation to the information they put in the PLP, such as information about themselves that only they or their teacher can see, or shared information that all other students will be able to see.

The student can then use this space to fill in information about themselves, which will tie in with their targets and concerns and give a full picture of them for staff and even potential employers. The student's view of this becomes available through the course, though it will also link in through their profile. We will look at this in detail now. The following screenshot shows the student's view of the above settings when initiated:

Once these settings under modules and blocks have been saved, staff can now create targets and modify reports, and students can get an overview of their work and learning, as we will see now.

Creating targets

The first task is to add some targets to your course for your students. The block will link to the area that displays the students so that you can see the targets, but the targets are added as activities. Switch on the edit function and choose a target for a section of your course where it is appropriate. This will be under the activities drop-down menu.

The target requires a basic name and a summary of what it is for, as with all other activities. Once it is set, you can then make more specific targets for each student in the group by clicking on the target link from the front of the course. The following screenshot shows the target named Research Skills that we have created:

Clicking on this link will open up a menu for all of your students. For each student, there is a link for targets and here you can add or modify targets for the students.

Here you can see that a target has been set with a deadline of one month after it is set. You can add comments as it progresses, and the drop-down menu allows you to modify it so that it is either achieved (in which case when, or withdrawn as not achievable).

The targets themselves can be general targets that need to be achieved across the range of the student's learning, or they can be tied specifically to a course by checking the Course related option checkbox, as shown in the following screenshot:

You can also see that we have the option to tie it to courses that the student is taking. If you are a personal tutor, you can work across the subject range and apply a number of targets. All of these can have a specified deadline. You now need to allow students to see their plans.

Accessing personal plans

As a teacher, you need to switch on editing for your course. This makes the block visible on the bottom-right margin of your course (assuming that is where you added the block). Choose the Personal Learning Plan block. This will then be added to your course and can be moved to where it is most suited to your layout.

The preceding screenshot is the view that you will see as a teacher and will allow you to see and comment on a student's targets and reports as needed, as well as export those reports.

The students will have a more restricted view, as shown in the following screenshot:

When students will click on the link My PLP, it will open the interface showing them their personal settings as well as any targets, concerns, or reports related to them. The more settings you have enabled on the admin section, the more they will see, so it is down to decide what information they can access.

In this case, the student will be able to add some details about themselves for you and their class, but also see how they are faring in terms of targets. This can be used for tutorial sessions so that they can work on improving areas of perceived strengths or weaknesses.

In terms of the targets that are set, they can interact with staff through comments so that a clear dialog can be established and hopefully issues can be picked up on as soon as possible.

Once you hav e added various targets and worked with students through their concerns and those of other staff, you can then pull it all together through a report. The report can then be used to show their skills and aptitudes in their individual design areas and may show that they have a preference and an aptitude in one area such as resistant materials but not in food. This information can be used to provide clearer information for the students in the courses you design and the examples you use.

Summary

This article introduced you to a Personal Learning module which allows you and your students to set and evaluate targets and personal goals. This module will help your students reflect on their work and allow you to better guide them in their ideas and practices.


Further resources on this subject:


Moodle 1.9 for Design and Technology Support and Enhance Food Technology, Product Design, Resistant Materials, Construction, and the Built Environment using Moodle VLE
Published: June 2010
eBook Price: $23.99
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About the Author :


Paul Taylor

A lifelong educator, Paul Taylor has always been involved in aspects of education and training in both companies and educational establishments.

After working in the world of animation hardware for a small company in California in the 1990s and getting a company credit on Toy Story, Paul returned to the UK and to Education. The idea was to combine real-world computing experience with educational principles. This led to 9 years of teaching secondary school ICT and Business Studies; running a web design company with A Level students for their vocational qualification.

A return to teaching coincided with an introduction to Linux and open source and Paul was an early adopter of Moodle in late 2003. This led to dialog with various Moodle users and Partners and an eventual leading role with the UK's oldest Moodle partner, Pteppic, in 2007.

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