Introducing Kayla Yucha, Kate Huttenlocher and Dan Arnold from Oakland University. Together, they work in the eLearning and instructional support office at Oakland University and co-host the podcast Inclusive & Online.
Inclusive & Online podcast covers topics relating to inclusivity, educational technology, and online learning.
Today we discuss their key learnings and favourite episodes as well as their usage of Moodle at Oakland University.
Oakland University uses Moodle as their LMS, supported by the Brickfield Education Labs integration. Brickfield Education Labs offer a comprehensive platform to improve the accessibility of Moodle course content.
Visit Moodle at Moodle.com
<silence> Hello and welcome to the Moodle Podcast.Lucy Sherwood:
Hello and welcome. My name is Lucy Sherwood and I work at Moodle hq. Today we're speaking with three different people, Kate Huttenlocher, Dan Arnold, and Kayla Yucha. Together, they host a podcast called Inclusive and Online. They also all work together in the e-Learning and Instructional Support Office at Oakland University with Moodle as their LMS. So to say that they're Moodle experts would be putting it lightly. Let's get started. Welcome everyone, and thank you so much for being part of this conversation. Firstly, I'd love to get a couple of introductions, so if we could go through and talk about what each of you do and a little bit about yourselves.Kate Huttenlocher:
Yeah, absolutely. Um, so my name is Kate Huttenlocher. I am the Assistant Manager of Support services with the e-Learning Office at Oakland University. I've been in my role for a couple years now as the full-time assistant manager of support services, but I've been working with Oakland for about seven years. And I also have a background in clinical mental health counseling as well as elementary classroom teaching.Dan Arnold:
I'm Dan Arnold. I'm the manager of support services at Oakland University here in Rochester, Michigan. I've been a Moodle administrator and troubleshooter for , uh, about eight years now. And I've been in higher education for 17 years. Overall, I've been at Oakland since 2006, where I did my master's in training and development and my PhD in educational leadership. And also on the side, I , uh, teach online courses in our human resources development , uh, program, focusing on group dynamics, leadership, team development, things of that nature.Kayla Yucha:
Hi, so my name is Kayla Yucha and I am a senior marketing major at Oakland University. And I'm going on my fourth year working at the e-learning office with Kate and Dan as their senior tech on the team. And overall, I'm just really passionate about helping people and through this podcast and just my experience like working with the community at Oakland, I'm just really passionate about cultivating inclusivity.Lucy Sherwood:
Thank you so much for all sharing and giving a bit of a snapshot into who you are next, I'd love to ask you all when you were first exposed to Moodle.Dan Arnold:
Well, for me, it was when I accepted the job in our e-learning department. My background is not a technical background, it's more a social science background. I was not a Moodle troubleshooter and all of a sudden I found myself in charge of a group of people who are, are student Moodle techs who are experienced Moodle troubleshooters. So my experience started as soon as I started being the manager of support here and I had to learn quickly, and I was, I was pretty fortunate to have a very supportive and knowledgeable team to help get me to where I'm at.Kate Huttenlocher:
My first exposure to Moodle was actually during my undergraduate education. We used Moodle as my LMS at my institution. So I had experience, you know, as a student with Moodle. Um, it was a very, very old version of Moodle at that point. But , um, <laugh> , once I started , uh, my graduate program at Oakland University, I, I actually joined Dan's team as a graduate assistant and technician. So that was kind of my first exposure to , um, troubleshooting Moodle and getting a little bit more of, of that side of the experience. So in addition to being a student using it, I was getting that kind of LMS troubleshooting experience as well.Kayla Yucha:
And I began during my freshman year of college almost learning the troubleshooting and like the student view as well. 'cause I've had this interview for the job almost my first week of school, and I kind of had , uh, the training right when I began school. So I've been pretty familiar with Moodle ever since I got into Oakland.Kate Huttenlocher:
Lots of experience with Moodle on, you know, different from different perspectives, which is great. I'd love to know what your favorite features of Moodle are, how you find it as an LMSs.Kate Huttenlocher:
We're all pretty big fans of Moodle and just how customizable it is, how much you can do with it, because yes, we do a lot of troubleshooting, but we also get to like advise faculty on the best ways to use Moodle and kind of see some of the creative things that faculty are doing with Moodle. We also work really closely with our instructional design team in, in our office here. So we get to see some of the creative ways that they're suggesting that faculty use Moodle. So I think that overall Moodle just has such a diversity of options for people and, and lets them really customize things. And I think that that's one of the big things that I love about it.Dan Arnold:
And , and just following up on that, just the adaptability and the versatility of Moodle. I think it's easy for us to, at times get lost within our institutional context of what Moodle can do, and we don't always see the full power of the different things that Moodle is capable of, say in a , a corporate environment or, you know, outside of the context of our university. I was fortunate enough to go to the Global Moot last year in Barcelona, and that was one of those eye-opening things like you always hear Moodle is , you know, the biggest LMS internationally, you know, across the world , uh, and how huge it is. And then you get an opportunity to see a small splice of, of how that works. There is a group of people from Africa talking about how they use it to reach, you know, remote communities, you know, on the African continent there were a , you know , a bevy of presentations from , um, our European Rs , uh, on the way they're using it there and just the different tech standards that they have to meet as compared to the United States. So, you know, there's, there's a humbling beauty about that and that you're working on something that has global implications. So while we might just be troubleshooting something weird in a forum, we might actually be identifying something that's going to help people on a much larger scale , much larger context than our institution. And how cool is that that, you know, just the mundane phone call that comes in turns into something that is actually beneficial to, you know, so many people who you won't even know the reach of that? That's what I like about Moodle is that, you know, it is, it is for everybody and there's so much more to learn and explore to really unlock that potential and power .Kayla Yucha:
I really like how user friendly it is . And typically I get feedback when I'm helping faculty troubleshoot, is that once you give them that first step, they, it really opens their eyes to how simple Moodle really is. And I've always get positive feedback with, oh wow, that's really easy, that's really friendly to like, people that are not really familiar with technology. So I think with working with faculty directly, it has always been a positive experience when I hear feedback like that.Lucy Sherwood:
That is so lovely to hear. I think that EdTech can be really daunting, especially to people who have been teaching for years and have never really used technology in that way. So it's so nice to hear that it's been really positive for you. Okay, so I was reading the transcript of your podcast and I noticed that you mentioned a tool called Ally. So I'd love to ask you more about that and also about any other accessibility tools that you use within Moodle as an LMS.Dan Arnold:
That was Blackboard Ally, which , uh, we were using when the , uh, pandemic hit and, and such. We, you know, we had Ally in place and we have since moved and migrated over to Brickfield Education Labs in their accessibility checkers in integrated into Moodle core code. And we're very happy about that. What happened is with , uh, the Ally tool, it's not that we weren't pleased with it, it's that they couldn't keep up with the development schedule for Moodle and , and their releases. And we got to a point where we had to do something because we were gonna be off of a long-term , uh, version, a long-term stable version of Moodle. So we, I actually met Gavin at the Moodle moot in Barcelona last fall and had a great conversation , uh, with him and had seen how far Brickfield had come and how it developed and mature their tool , uh, was at that point. And it's great because we know it's gonna be, you know, up to our standard, it's, it's part of Moodle now. It has to be up to that and the ability to do the bulk fixes, the bulk features and , and the edits, and that I think is awesome. It's a fantastic tool in that, you know, if there was any change in functionality and going from Ally over to Brickfield, it was completely mitigated by the fact that there was a lot of self-correcting , um, mechanisms built into it. So we're very happy with Brickfield and, and very happy working with Gavin as well. He is a very personable guy, easy to talk with, you know , willing to help as well. So, and, and much like yourself, flexible to our time <laugh> , uh, zone over here when working with , uh, colleagues from around the world, it's important for that. And , uh, you know, been very pleased with what we've seen from Brickfield thus far.Lucy Sherwood:
Oh , that's so fantastic to hear because Brickfield is a certified integration with Moodle, so as you said, it's built into core code now, which is fantastic, and we just love to hear that positive feedback. Of course for us at Moodle, improving accessibility across the board is really important. Were there any other tools or integrations that you wanted to mention for our listeners?Dan Arnold:
That's the big one there. We, I mean, we certainly have repositories for, you know , Microsoft and Google and things that, you know, have accessibility tools built into it. And Moodle's been doing a great job of evolving with the accessibility needs as well with, you know, their editors and they do often empower administrators to help, you know, build some of that flexibility and for you do what works best within your institutional context. And overall, I'd say I'm , I'm very pleased with what Moodle has done developmentally to address accessibility. One thing I have noticed that I think would be interesting addition is the addition of , um, pronouns or, you know, having tools in there to help with name pronunciation, which was an episode that we had covered as well. We can, we can use some of the tools that are built in there, and I think it's on us to educate our, you know, population better on how to use those tools. But overall, when it comes to accessibility from where we were 5, 6, 7 years ago, I'm very pleased the direction that Moodle has gone and many of these tools have gone to really to really help us and help faculty, but even to help those students who won't step up and self-identify, they don't have to because, you know, we're taking steps toward making sure they don't need to and that they're, they're getting the education that they need.Lucy Sherwood:
Yeah, I think that's a great example because it's such a small thing to implement and yet it can make such a big difference in an individual's experience. I found you through your podcast, which is called Inclusive and Online. So I'd love to talk a bit about what inspired that podcast.Kate Huttenlocher:
So I think the podcast was really kind of a passion project for us, right? It's, it's one of those things where we were exploring on demand resources for our faculty, not necessarily having to have them sit in a seat for a workshop, but having a bunch of resources for them to expand their knowledge in more of that on-demand format. And I myself am a big podcast listener , um, and I think Dan recognized that and, you know, said, what, what if we did a podcast? What if we had used this as a way to expand our knowledge? And that's really kind of what we did. We were like, what are some things that we're interested in? We're, we're really passionate about the inclusivity, the diversity, and how can we incorporate that into a great resource that our faculty can use, but also, I think is really applicable on a broader scale as well, and can be really great information for faculty at other institutions for higher education professionals across the board.Dan Arnold:
I completely agree with all of that. You know, part of my job is to make sure that people I'm oversee are getting development opportunities and Kate's right? I recognize that she is a big fan of podcasts and we talked about them often, but it's also, you know , podcasts are an incredibly valuable learning mechanism too. If the pandemic taught us anything, it's time-based and, geographically based locations that they aren't working. People want to access the content in a time that's convenient for them. And , and being an e-learning that makes total sense. This is something where the equipment that , uh, you can see we didn't have, I had some of it because I do music stuff, but it's making sure that we had the right equipment that we, you know, are pulling in interesting people and concepts to talk about. And originally it was just inclusive and online with Kate and Dan and Kayla as a production assistant in the background is like, well, she's doing some work, let's get her involved. I think one thing that we were, we were missing in this was the student voice. And you know, Kayla's got a lot to say and has great perspective in that realm. So I think, you know, based on the level of experience that each of us has and , and our roles within, you know, the institution and with Moodle, it was, it , it just made total sense to move in this direction. And I'm glad that we have,Lucy Sherwood:
I've personally learned so much from your podcast. I'd love to know what kind of feedback you've received from others as well.Kayla Yucha:
Personally, I have experienced , um, some positive feedback on the social media platforms that we have. And my personal favorite feedback that I get is when I sit down in the classroom and the faculty member, my instructor either recognizes me from working at e-Learning and then also being on the podcast or like, I inform 'em about the podcast and they bring either email me or come to class and really they're like, wow, Kayla, like, this is so interesting. I had no idea about all of these different tools in Moodle. And it, it always is such a positive experience when I get to share that with my instructors as well as my peers at Oakland.Kate Huttenlocher:
Yeah, I think to an extent it's kind of surprised us as well how, how much traction the podcast has gained. And we're on our second season now and it's been surprising to see the, the number of listeners we're getting, the number of downloads we're getting. And you know, from something that started as kind of like a little passion project for us, it's been, it's been really cool to see the growth.Dan Arnold:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you hope that someone will listen and that, you know, people will, will pay attention. You never know really going into this and you know, we've had thousands of downloads al already on this podcast, and I think that's, that's awesome. It's incredible. It speaks to I think the value of the work that we're doing, but ourselves we're also learning, you know, quite a bit , uh, in this as well and that's, you know, there are conversations with people where this is impactful for them. So it's been, it's been an interesting journey so far and, you know, it's just great to know that people are, are enjoying it and all the feedback that I've received has been very positive, very supportive, and just to know, you know, we do all the editing, we do, you know, everything. It's the three of us who do all of it for that. It's good work and I'm glad we're doing it.Lucy Sherwood:
It is, and it's really important work. I'd love to know what episodes of the podcast you all think are the best or, you know, you've had the most key learnings from so that our listeners can seek it out and find out where to start.Kate Huttenlocher:
I know for me, I've, I've really loved some of the student experience episodes that we've done. I think that's probably a shared sentiment with my co-host as well, just being able to bring on a student and hear like their specific experiences either with Moodle or with their educational journey as a whole, some of the struggles that they've gone through, some of their triumphs early on. We did an episode with a recent graduate from our institution. She was deaf in talking about assistive technology in the classrooms with online learning. Just some of those things that were really, you know, insightful, especially for such an early episode. I think it kind of put us on an interesting trajectory and almost kind of shifted what we were doing and, and really diving in more to some of those student experiences.Kayla Yucha:
As I joined the podcast to bring the student voice, I've been very interested in learning more about my peers and sharing their experiences. Um, specifically the International Student Experience episode we did back in season one, I believe it was episode eight, we had one of our previous employees at the e-learning office on as well as a business student named Gracie. And it really stuck with me because she was a business student. She was in around the same time in her education as me taking the same classes and everything. And just hearing her challenges not being born in the United States and not having the same opportunities as myself has really stuck with me and changed my approach to how I speak with all of my peers and , um, work with , um, students at the learning office.Dan Arnold:
Yeah, that was a , a striking episode. This was a , an international student who basically was raised in the United States from a very young age, but did not have a social security number, could not get employment, difficulty obtaining internships, just some of those roadblocks that are, you know, a part of that, what we think as the typical college experience. Uh, those were roadblocks, those are barriers, things that are hard to overcome. You know, for me, some of the episodes, I, I agree the student experience ones, one that stuck out to me was , um, the life of the student athlete, which was our first episode from this semester. We often think, you know, you know, athletes have got it made. They've got all these resources and they do, they certainly do. They also have a lot of other constraints on their schedules and demands and travel and they're still expected to learn and get their homework in and , and , and have all of those things in. So just learning a little bit more about the attention to detail in their lives, from education to their nutrition to practices, coordinating schedules as well. We did have , uh, an episode on chosen preferred and legal name that got a lot of traction shortly after it came out. Much to our surprise. And it was great because we had two folks on that , uh, episode just going through their experiences of maybe an international student who , um, uses an Americanized name and, you know, identifies through that. And that was actually more so one of her middle names that she was using. But just the variety of stories that are out there, you know, the things that someone might be going through that you just aren't aware of that you may, you know, take for granted. And likewise, you know, back toward yourself too, is that there's always something interesting to learn. There's always, you know, some kind of angle to, you know, create some kind of empathy for somebody else. And that's what these are, these are all very human stories, very human experiences that, you know, are meant to be appreciated. And luckily we're in a , a position to be able to help share those stories.Lucy Sherwood:
That's lovely. Now earlier, Dan, you mentioned Middle Moot Global, which is an event that we host annually. I'd love to hear more about your experience at the conference.Dan Arnold:
My experience was outstanding. Uh, I am, you met a number of people on the Moodle US team while we were there and I was a lone representative from our university. You know , luckily at Moodle us Eric Merrill works there. He was with Oakland University prior to being with , uh, Moodle. And he is an absolute rockstar and he was great and introduced me to a lot of the Moodle us , uh, development team who were very, you know, welcoming in that regard as well. So it was learning more about the Moodle US team and just making some connections and, and making some friends there , uh, who I still keep in contact with. And then meeting a lot of people from around the world and just learning more about what they do. Uh, David Sailor , who is a developer at Moodle us worked on a project and delivering, you know, remote access to Moodle, you know, out in, in remote parts of the world, which I thought was amazing. It was, you know, one of those awe inspiring things. And I just kind of go back to what I was saying earlier in that, you know, you relearn just, you know, how big of a project this is and how many people are involved and how many people are affected and impacted and , and I thought that was fantastic 'cause it's easy to forget that when I'm, you know, sitting at home working or in my office working and it's just, you know, a professor calling in with an issue or you know, now there's a budget concern about this tool here. It just was a great way to recenter myself and , and put my attention back on the tool and remember why I got an education. Everybody there, they want to help, they want to be there. It's an eclectic group, it's a fun group. It was a lot of fun getting to meet a lot of people. We also had, you know , the event there at Toward the End where everybody got together and there was a live band in Food and hors d'oeuvres and it was just a great way to kind of unwind and, and connect with people on a different level too. So , uh, I've always said that the Moodle mood is, you know, one of my favorite conferences. 'cause you get to see different ways people are using that tool and bring that back with you. But then you also get to meet a lot of really fun, personable people. And you know, for me that's at the heart of Moodle is the people.Lucy Sherwood:
Yes. That's, that's something I definitely hear a lot. The community of Moodle is just incredible. So how about local community moots? Have you attended any of those?Dan Arnold:
I've done remote ones like the , uh, mountain Moot, which I've enjoyed that one. And I've been to US Moots in Los Angeles back in 2016 and I did one in Philadelphia, I wanna say maybe in 2019 as well. And again, it's connecting with a lot of your peers domestically and, and just seeing what's going on at different institutions around. So I mean, the Moots here, again, it's just like the global one. It's about connecting with people, like-mindedness, friendly, lots of friendly people , uh, that we meet there. So I, I can't recommend going to a moot enough and finding something, you know, just to re-energize yourself and get to feed your inspiration because there's a lot to be found.Lucy Sherwood:
You are actually not the first person I've heard say that Moodle , moot Global does re-energize you. So Moodle Moot Global is in September this year in Barcelona and we're really looking forward to it. Okay. So thank you all so much for being part of this episode. I loved listening more about what you do, your usage of Moodle and all about your podcast as well, which is called Inclusive and Online, which I will link in the show notes. Thanks a lot.Dan Arnold:
I just really appreciate the opportunity to come and share some of our experience and , uh, talk about Moodle for a while.