While I was walking down the hall today I was invited in to take part in an AP English class discussion about Moodle. I learned that the class had just had profound discussions in Moodle about the book they were reading. The entire class and the teacher were ecstatic about the level of the discussions in Moodle. This afternoon I enrolled in the Moodle class and read the discussions. They are indeed profound. The operative question is why has this class been so much more successful than others I've seen? What is so different about this class? Many of these students have Moodled previously but they said this experience was better. Far better. And don't get me wrong; the other work I have seen in Moodle has been good.
What I learned from the students was that they feel much more relaxed working in Moodle in this teacher's class. They mentioned that their other experiences were "too formal". Because the students were too worried about what they were writing, they did not write as much. The lesson to be learned from this is that our students learn more, produce more, produce better work, and engage more when they are relaxed. Don't all of us?