Experience of A. Krupynskyi Lviv Medical Academy in implementation of Moodle system

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There is probably no need to highlight the importance of an e-learning platform at higher education institutions. And here we are not talking exclusively about the Ukrainian context and health sector. Today, the e-learning is an absolute ‘must have’ of the educational process: it accelerates the process of providing and receiving educational products, has a direct impact on the quality of education and, of course, helps in building relationships between teachers and students. Everyone is in a single educational context, has equal access to the sources of information, and a fast and objective evaluation. Meanwhile, some higher education institutions have not implemented any modern systems of e-learning which are important for the modern educational process.

For reference: Today, all 182 courses of the current semester have already been added to the Moodle system of A. Krupynskyi Lviv Medical Academy, a part of them is still being adapted. 100% of teachers and student have been connected to the system – approximately 650 students and 150 teachers.

Therefore, we suggest paying attention to the positive experience of A. Krupynskyi Lviv Medical Academy which began to implement the e-learning system in November 2020 and has a functional and user-friendly platform today. This experience can be useful for other higher education institutions which only plan to implement e-learning in their educational process and do not know what to start with.

We are speaking with Volodymyr Fedoryk, PhD, Assistant Professor, Head of Academic and Methodological Unit at A. Krupynskyi Lviv Medical Academy, about his experience of implementing the e-learning.

  • What did the Academy start with to implement the Moodle e-learning platform?

Krupynskyi Lviv Medical Academy did not have its own learning platform. We had a computer lab, where all the necessary programs were concentrated. Here automated testing of students during exam sessions was usually held, but it was not enough to create a virtual learning environment. And therefore the students’ involvement in fulfilment of class assignments and implementation of new tools was on a low level.

In March 2020, together with other five higher education institutions we took the online course “Introduction to E-learning” by the UkrainianSwiss Project “Medical Education Development”. During the course we mastered one of the e-learning platforms — LMS Moodle, so we clearly saw how convenient the educational process can be thanks to using it. After the course we developed a step-bystep plan for implementation of the e-learning in the educational process of our higher education institution.

Moodle (Modular ObjectOriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is a free and open-source learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalised learning environment. It is used to organize interaction between teachers and students and can be used to organize e-learning and support face-to-face learning.

Moreover, the team of the Ukrainian Swiss Project “Medical Education Development” offered us help in remote set-up of Moodle. We had a number of meetings, analysed all the specifics of our higher education institution, and defined the platform structure and functions which suit the educational needs of the institutions the best. That is how we started our work.

  • How did the set-up process go? We are sure that it will be useful for other higher education institutions to learn some technical aspects of implementation. 

The Project IT-consultants Trokhym Babych and Vitaliy Zaiets developed and remotely set up the platform: they set up hosting, backup, access, removed extra buttons and blocks (ed., as Moodle is an open platform, its functions are open by default, so the full set is not always needed), configured the theme and colours in line with the Academy brand book, and set a necessary structure of the courses. In addition, Trokhym and Vitaliy familiarized the users with the system, sent the recordings of webinars on how to fill the courses and work with tests and evaluation. We received the guidelines on automatic update of Moodle to the latest version.

We had an important acquaintance with Unicheck company which provides software solutions to verify the works for plagiarism. By the way, it can also be integrated into the Moodle platform. But we have not reached that far yet. For the effective work of Moodle the Academy changed its Internet provider, increased its Internet speed to 100 MB/ sec, a regular cable was replaced with a fibre-optic one, and new staff units for the network maintenance were introduced.

  • What was the most difficult thing for the administration in integration of the Moodle platform in the educational process?

First of all, I must say that it was impossible to move ahead without the e-learning tools. That is why the team was highly motivated. However, we indeed had some difficulties. It appeared that a separate IT-solution was needed to integrate the class timetables, video lectures and video seminars on the Moodle platform. Moreover, we had to take into account some elderly teachers who find it really difficult to become accustomed to new digital technologies.

  • Could you tell us in details how teachers started working with the platform? What were the first steps?

The teachers were given a task to add texts of their lectures to Moodle as well as methodological recommendations for practical, laboratory, seminar sessions, and individual work. They also had to create chats, upload syllabuses, etc. Now the dynamics is monitored by the Methodological Department.

Starting from the next semester we plan to add new disciplines which have not been taught yet. We are going to include test tasks to every topic of the course and train the teachers to use the digital grade books. We would like to introduce a digital grade book in the pilot group at every faculty starting from the next semester. This idea has not been approved on all the levels yet, but believe me – it is worth implementing. If everything goes well from the second semester of 2021-2022 academic year, we plan to roll out the experience to the entire Academy. It is my assessment, that 80% of the objective of the platform implementation for this time has been achieved.

  • How did Moodle implementation influence the educational process? Did it take long for the teachers to get used to the platform? 

Moodle helped the teachers to systematize their materials a lot. The information stored on a USB flash drive is one thing, but if it is shared on the resource accessible to all people involved in the educational process, it is something different. In other words, the materials stored in the folders at the department also became available to students. Basically, the work has become systematic — everything, from a syllabus to test tasks, is on a single platform.

Another important thing is that the teachers’ work has become transparent – it is easy to assess and see the dynamics. One can see quality and quantity of materials published by teachers for students, style, topics and frequency of communication. Similarly, it is more convenient to check the students’ work. Now one can see who and when visited a page, what was read, how much time was spent. In May, we carried out a survey of students which showed that about 70% of students use the Moodle platform often and very often. And this trend tends to increase. It is also worth pointing out that during the quarantine Moodle became the most visited place in our Academy and replaces a lot of means of digital communication.

In addition, one should understand that it would be impossible to work with foreigners without the Moodle platform. We have students from India. Some of them, using the opportunity, left for home, and, when it was time to come back, the borders were closed. That is why Moodle became a reliable platform which ensured the educational process under force majeure circumstances. As for the foreign students, here we are grateful to the Ukrainian-Swiss Project “Medical Education Development” for training our staff to teach in English. The foreign students save one year of their studies, and we are becoming more competitive.

More detailed steps of implementing Moodle at your educational process please find here —>  https://mededu.org.ua/library. In the meantime, we recommend reading students reviews about Moodle.

For me, personally, the Moodle platform has become a powerful resource to study. With a view of global tendencies of online education as well as progressive implementation of various education platforms in the educational process, for me Moodle is a priority tool for learning and processing necessary information. I am taking evening classes and employed in parallel, so it is not convenient to study with textbooks. Moreover, from the material in the textbooks it is not always clear which information exactly from the whole text is enough to learn the topic. In Moodle, a teacher gives the material in the amount and from the sources which he/she finds evidence and scientifically-based. It is extremely convenient that now lectures are not only in a printed form, but also in the form of presentations and atlases. There are links to sources and methodological recommendations for improving knowledge. This indeed makes understanding easier and allows navigating in the topic better. For examples, in studying anatomy or physiology, having only a printed lecture is not enough. A big advantage is that every teacher can see the students’ progress and time they spend for tasks. Implementation of Moodle is definitely a significant achievement which makes the students’ lives easier. I am sure it is the same for teachers. 

Olesia Bagriy, first year student, Nursing

The system is very convenient – it is easy to understand and use. The platform has a clear structure which allows finding the necessary material quickly. Furthermore, the structure of each course is quite extensive and has a broad content. A possibility to learn the material not only in the form of lectures, but also in the form of presentations, and to save all the files for further use is a clear advantage. In addition, the teachers can attach videos, photos or audios and textbooks in a pdf format. This helps to process and retain the information better. I can study just by turning on my smartphone or laptop. It is very convenient! You will agree that sometimes one does not have a possibility to carry a bunch of textbooks, and with Moodle all the disciplines are always at hand. 

Halyna Tischenko, first year student, Nursing