The Power Of The Five Minute Tutorial

More than a few times recently I’ve had those really great five minute conversations, the outcomes from which can make a world of difference to an individual. Nothing ground breaking by any technical standards, and often familiar territory to an expert. Typically these are focused around a simple need, and often facilitated by a readily available tool that isn’t being fully exploited.

Today that conversation was on the subject of communication – specifically in using Moodle as a communication tool. We use Moodle each and every day, but really only scratch the surface of its capabilities. Very evident when in this case you suggest to staff that Moodle can be used as a tool for unicast or multicast messages with participants (in other words, blank faces all round).

Needing to record a quick tutorial on the subject, I found a willing volunteer who would participate. I found Jo, one of our English teachers, looking at a substance she called ‘paper’ from a big metal lump known as a ‘filing cabinet‘. Conveniently, Jo had no previous experience of Moodle messaging – just what I needed. My instruction: “Can you login to Moodle and visit one course so I can see you in the Online Users block” (the simplest route by which a message can be sent). Jo replied “and then what do I do?”. “Then nothing – that’s all I need you to do”. A pleasant smile followed from both of us; must have been something satisfying about having to do almost nothing to support me and my tutorial beyond this (although the expectation might have been there initially!)

Off I went to record a quick video using my Screenr, my favorite app for the job. Whilst doing this I sent a message to to Jo as my chosen recipient.

With the video done, off I went to check in and make sure that my messaging hadn’t led to any confusion at Jo’s computer. Whilst the message pop up had already been closed, a brief and very interesting conversation followed – lots of questions about the messaging function that hadn’t previously been considered:

“I can use this to send messages to a student” – “Yep!”

“when will the message be received” – “almost instantly if the user is logged in; if not currently logged in it’s delivered on next login”

“can I use this to send messages to a class” – “No – but there’s another tool for that”

“I’ve just written a Post-It note for Dean in Sport – can I send him a message like this?” – “Yep!”

Each and every one of my answers was quickly followed with an exclamation of “wow”, “amazing” or “cool”. What a difference a five minute tutorial can make.

By popular request, here’s the video: