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Using Moodle for Writer’s Workshop

This is the second semester I’ve used the Workshop module on my Moodle site, and as I get more familiar with it, I like it more and more. I did two things I didn’t try last time, and find that I will do them again. FIrst, I set up a trial feedback prompt in the workshop. Granted, it was a yes/no response question, but just having it helps participants focus on the sorts of things that are important in their all-important holistic comment in the text box. Next, I used the instructor assessment function this time to give my feedback. I like this more than expected, mainly because it keeps all the feedback in one place for the students. By limiting myself to a holistic response with  the possibility of standard yes/no questions in the beginning (I may add a yes/no “Is it typo/error-free?”), it also keeps me from spending time on minor things or typos that will be cleared up in the final draft. FInally, having all this in Moodle means that it is tracked in Moodle. There is no ambiguity about who has done what or even when. The activity reports are thorough and clear without feeling too much like the panopticon.

From the student viewpoint of course, it’s new. New sometimes means that awful feeling that you are doing things wrong even if you get it right. I think that will die down the next time through. Also, many students are sincerely not used to having an initial and midpoint look at their work, so for them, the workshop is extra foreign. One thing I know for sure, once a writer has the advantage of good feedback at several points during the writing process, the advantages are clear. Good feedback accelerates the student writer’s ability to grow and improve.

More about this for my Writing I students: If you haven’t uploaded your SP1 using the Workshop link at the Hub, do so ASAP. This is how you get feedback on your work, and even if you think everything is fine and you don’t want feedback, doing this is how the class operates. Participating in peer review is part of your final grade for the course. So if you didn’t upload your SP1 yesterday, yes, you are late and will pay the penalty, but late is infinitely better than not having an initial draft at all and not giving or getting feedback. Needless to say, you do not get instructor feedback unless you upload your draft to the Workshop.

if you have your SP1 in the workshop, you can now give (and get) feedback. Make sure you comment for three students and pick ones who have little or no feedback. SP1 is due Monday, at least an hour before class. This will count as your midpoint version, so it does need to be revised from the initial version that is workshopped this week. it also has a turn-in link: look for the “Short Project 1 Due Here” link under next week on the schedule. I will give a letter grade for that one and will comment again. Your final version will be the portfolio version, and that too, will most likely be revised, unless of course, you are satisfied with the midpoint draft grade. So that is the line-up. Initial draft, workshop, midpoint draft, grade, portfolio, holistic grade.

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