Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Moodle introduction

I've heard of Moodle for some time now, but I have not yet made the time to investigate this course management system. I'm heading off to a Moodle demo here at UW-Madison later today, so I'm sure my understanding of the tool will increase quickly.

Here are some of the most interesting aspects of Moodle at first glance:

1. it's based upon "social constructionist pedagogy" (

2. if offers 3 course template formats: weekly, topics or social formats. This should be a great feature because it immediately prompts the instructor to think about the structure of the course site. Should it be arranged by date (weekly format)? Topics covered in class regardless of dates (topics format)? Or should it be centered on collaborative participation of the course members (social format)?

When I was training faculty in the use of Blackboard, this was one of the initial stumbling blocks. Many instructors didn't have a strong sense of how to organize their material. Often I'd turn the discussion towards something like "describe your syllabus to me" in order to get their thought processes firing in the right direction. I'm not sure yet if Moodle requires instructors to set this format setting or if not, what the default format is.

3. A strong focus on activities. Instructors add activities modules (assignments, discussion forum, choice-a quick poll, resources, quizzes, more...) to the course site. This in contrast to Blackboard which operates from a content delivery perspective. Activities are often buried inside of communication tools menus.

At this moment, I'm not sure of Moodle's robustness for an enterprise-level course management system. However, my first look at sample course sites shows that it's an interesting "light-weight" tool worthy of further exploration.

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