Moodle (http://moodle.org/) is a learning management system designed to help people create a variety of online learning opportunities. Moodle stands for “Modular Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment”.
Because it is user-friendly, free, engaging, and highly interactive, Moodle is gaining in popularity as an online learning tool. It is used in almost every country in the world and is available in 34 languages. Moodle is used by millions of people to create online learning opportunities, including individuals, not-for-profits, government, the private sector, and universities and colleges. In the external GO research, Moodle was found to be one of the most popular online learning platforms. In fact, as of November 2008, Moodle.org had over half a million registered users!
Here are just a few of the reasons that Moodle is so popular:
- Moodle is very cost-effective. In fact, it is free! However, you will still need to register to join up to this exciting learning community.
- Moodle was developed using sound adult education principles.
- Moodle is user-friendly and highly interactive.
- Moodle is designed to be easily customized to suit the needs of the organization and participants.
- Moodle can be effectively used for both large and small online learning initiatives. For example, Moodle is used to deliver university courses to hundreds and thousands of students and it could also be used by a small not-for-profit to deliver informal training opportunities to just a few people.
- Moodle can be downloaded and hosted by virtually anyone.
- Moodle's modular structure allows you to easily create or modify content and courses from both existing resources and new sources.
- Moodle can be used for both blended and fully online learning opportunities.
- Moodle has both asynchronous (any time; anywhere learning) and synchronous (real time) learning environments.
- Content can be created from scratch or uploaded from previously created files (i.e. Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDFs)
- Content can be used and modified again and again for new participants and/or new courses.
- Moodle features you can use in your online classroom include: a variety of online content and resources; online forums; online journaling; video clips and pictures; peer review of documents; quizzes; surveys; online chat; and assignments.
- Moodle offers many user-friendly teacher support and tracking tools (registration, grading and marking, etc.).
For a complete list of Moodle learning activities, see: http://docs.moodle.org/en/Learning_Activities_Overview.
There are also a wide variety of plug-ins and add-ons that can be used to enhance and customize Moodle and add a variety of features to suit your needs. A few examples include:
- An accessibility plug-in that lets the learning participant (rather than just the facilitator) control the font size and the background colour.
- A translator plug-in that allows text to be translated into various languages.
- A calendar plug-in that allows participants and facilitators to book appointments for meeting times, classes, etc.
- A certificate plug-in that allows course completion certificates to be generated.
- A plug-in that allows specific types of assignments to be generated, e.g. math quizzes and worksheets.
For more information on Moodle plug-ins and their wide world of possibilities, please visit: http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?id=6009.
All of the above features (and many more) have combined to make Moodle a very popular online learning platform. Or, as Moodle itself says on its own website: "Moodle is a real gift to forward thinking educators."
Technology in Action
ACE Online (Academic and Career Entrance)
The College Sector Committee for Adult Upgrading (CSC) is an Ontario college network which provides support to Ontario's 22 English and 2 French community colleges. The CSC is using Moodle as the platform to develop and deliver ACE programming to adult students across Ontario through Ontario Learn. ACE is the level of programming necessary to register as an apprentice and to access postsecondary programming. Courses include Communications (French, English and Anglais langue Seconde), Mathematics (Core, Apprenticeship, Business and Technology), Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Computer Fundamentals and Self Management/Self Direction. These are highly interactive courses which enable participants to progress at their own rate. A particularly innovative aspect is the initial Intake and Assessment module which determines if the student is personally and academically ready to successfully participate in distance learning. Intake is monthly with no minimum or maximum number of learners. For more information, please visit: www.collegeupgradingon.ca. (Source: College Sector Committee Staff)
AlphaPlus Centre, a provincial literacy organization which provides technical support and resources to Ontario literacy agencies, has readily adapted to Moodle and offers an 8-week training course to Ontario literacy educators. AlphaPlus' hands-on training introduces educators to the basics of Moodle, guiding them in exploring Moodle tools and features. One hundred literacy educators have completed the Moodle training course as of November 2008. Educators can also create private activities on the AlphaPlus Moodle to meet the specific needs of their local students. AlphaPlus hosts province-wide free short courses for adult literacy students, using Moodle as part of the AlphaRoute online learning environment. Moodle has shown itself to be a successful platform for adults working online on literacy skills. Please visit: http://moodlee.alphaplus.ca/ for more information about the training course. To learn more about AlphaRoute visit: www.resources.alpharoute.org. (Source: AlphaPlus staff)
Community Literacy of Ontario In 2008-2009 Community Literacy of Ontario (a provincial network of Ontario's community literacy agencies) will be developing a Moodle classroom to support Ontario's literacy practitioners to implement a Performance Management System in their agencies. This classroom will not be operational until June 2009. However, please visit CLO's website at: www.nald.ca/clo for more information on this initiative.
Literacy Nova Scotia
Literacy Nova Scotia (Nova Scotia's provincial literacy coalition) uses Moodle as the platform to host the Advanced Learning Technology (ALT) website. The very innovative ALT website offers online discussion forums, online conferencing, online training and access to a wide variety of resources and information. While visitors are welcome, this site was created for literacy practitioners, learners and coordinators in Nova Scotia's community-based literacy programs and, as such, some of the site is password protected for their use only. Please visit: http://alt.ns.literacy.ca/ to learn more about the Advanced Learning Technology (ALT) website. (Source: Literacy Nova Scotia website)
Literacy Alberta (Alberta's provincial literacy coalition) uses the Moodle platform to offer SHARE online conferencing to its members. Via SHARE, Alberta literacy practitioners and other members of Literacy Alberta use Moodle to access information and resources on a variety of topics of interest, take online courses, participate in online discussion groups, and receive current updates about literacy events and activities in the province. One particularly innovative use of SHARE by Literacy Alberta is the ability for students and tutors to create a private work space on Moodle to support students who work out of town, live in remote areas or who work shifts or irregular hours. For more information on SHARE, please see: www.literacyalberta.ca/share.htm. (Source: Literacy Alberta website)
The Learning Hub The Learning Hub is th
e new e-Channel province-wide learning initiative offered by the Literacy and Basic Skills program of The Centres for Employment and Learning of Avon Maitland District School Board in south-western Ontario. It is funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and is free to all adult learners in Ontario who want to access a flexible online learning environment. The Hub uses a variety of online learning platforms to deliver online learning to adult learners, including Moodle. Please click here to access a demonstration of a Moodle course via the Learning Hub: www.learninghub.ca/moodle_demo/moodle_demo.swf. (Source: The Learning Hub website)
Additional Resources about Moodle
Athabasca University (the host of the GO project) is a leader in online learning in Canada and an extensive user of Moodle. It has developed two extremely helpful overviews of Moodle and its various features and applications: www.athabascau.ca/moodletrain/intro.htm and www.athabascau.ca/moodletrain/.
Another useful resource called “Moodle School in New Zealand” is available at: www.moodle.school.nz/. This resource teaches people how to use Moodle and offers various resources, discussions, ideas and tips on effective usage.
The Moodle site itself offers a variety of user-friendly online resources about Moodle and what it is and how to use it at: http://moodle.org/.
Michelle Moore has prepared a PowerPoint Presentation on the basic features of Moodle called “Use Your Noodle - Use Moodle!” It is available at: www.schoolforge.net/system/files/Moore_MoodleslideshowJuly2006_0.pdf.
Peace Wapiti School in Grande Prairie, Alberta has also prepared various online resources on the use of Moodle at: http://collaboration.pwsd76.ab.ca/course/view.php?id=7.