Inquiry based learning is a process to designed to help students investigate their own questions and convert information and data into knowledge. The process has several phases including questioning, researching, discussing, creating, and reflecting. Inquiry-based learning is particularly well-suited for Moodle because Moodle was created to be a constructivist platform that has many tools to support inquiry based learning.
In the questioning phase you are helping students define the problem question. Usually you will have to build some background before students can generate good questions.
At this stage it is helpful to the students for you to provide background information through articles, audio recordings, videos, web sites, photos, art, etc. Moodle is a great place to house a lot of these resources for your students.
The Moodle Glossary is a good tool for learning about vocabulary related to your topic. I love student created glossaries where students can comment and add more information to each other’s entries.
The Research Phase
In the Research Phase I recommend giving students some sources to help them find information. Moodle is a great place to house links to useful sites.
I recommend having students put away their notes and doing some free writing on their own of everything they learned at the end of a research session. This makes them synthesize information and cuts down on just copying notes off the Internet. Moodle Discussion Forums or Moodle Chat are great ways where this can be done. These types of tools create an authentic audience of the student’s peers. I also recommend that the teacher also be present in the discussion to model what good reply posts look like and to challenge their thinking and ask questions and guide discussions to ask students to clarify their thinking and reasoning.
You might want to consider doing student inquiry blogs in Moodle. Then you can follow a student’s thinking through the research process and make comments and suggestions along the way. Peers can also comment. This is a great strategy for managing students with all different questions and monitoring how the research process and make suggestions.
Moodle is great for creating collaborative learning environments! As mentioned above discussion forums, chats, and blogs are great ways to have students discuss their learning with one another. This helps students see a diversity of viewpoints.
It is important to have defined criteria for the product students are creating ahead of time. Moodle 2+ allows rubrics to be attached to assignments to support inquiry based projects. (See Sue Bradtke’s post “A Great Assessment Tool within Moodle: The Rubric” to learn more about Rubrics in Moodle).
It is important that at the end of the inquiry unit students see how their research fit into the overall research question for your unit of inquiry. A lot of your topics you are working on lend themselves well to compare and contrast. These can make great discussion or blog posts.