We are currently setting up Moodle as our course management system at SMU. There are a number of really exciting things about this system. Moodle is easy to use and easy to learn. Approximately 1,835,557 teachers all over the world are using the system as of today.
Moodle is also open source and free, which means that there is a huge international community of users invested in developing and improving it. There is also a huge international user support network. You can quickly get your questions answered through the Moodle discussion forum or get ideas and see examples from Moodle's teacher documentation articles, for example. Moodle forums are not just for technical issues, but also for sharing teaching ideas!
Another way to learn about Moodle is through the multitude of online videos and screencasts that users create and share online. For example, YouTube lists hundreds of Moodle tutorials created by educators from all over the world. I added a select few to the right sidebar of this blog, under the Tutorials heading.
MOODLE is an acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment.
Let's break this down into simple terms.
Modular Object-Oriented means that an instructor can customize their Moodle course site by selecting from a variety of modules. A module can be any kind of an online tool such as a discussion forum, a wiki, a blog, a web page, a survey, a chat, a calendar, a grade sheet, a quiz and more*. In designing a Moodle course page, an instructor can combine any of these online teaching tools based on their teaching goals and their students' needs. Moodle's graphic interface means that there is no tech savvy required. To create a course site, you simply select modules from drop down menus and intuitive icons.
Dynamic means that in addition to enabling instructors to publish materials (such as word documents, embedded video, Power Point slides, etc.), Moodle also encourages collaboration, interaction and exploration. For example, students can discuss classroom readings, share notes, comment on one another's work, ask and answer questions, chat, share files, etc. Moodle is a system specifically developed following a Social Constructivist Pedagogy theory. It is based on the idea that people learn best when they can engage with the material through interacting with it, constructing new material and interacting about the material with others.
Learning Environment means that a Moodle "page" looks like a website but it's different because it can be easily customized by the instructor and it can be made as static or as dynamic and interactive as needed.
*To see examples of Moodle features go to the Moodle demo site (you can either register or just log in as a guest user).
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