What is Moodle?

FIRST OF A SERIES (Maybe)

You could think of Moodle as being like a walled garden. It’s a private online space, which is divided into things called courses, each of which has members.

A walled garden has two aspects. It can be safe or it can be merely isolated and cutoff. However, as I have posted in other forums I think for a formal taught course, providing some sort of freedom and boundaries is good, and from there it can be used as a base for free range learning. (Authentic learning, and a few other buzz words)

For the geeks, Moodle needs a server, PHP, MySQL and so on. I’m interested to note that the standard install does not include some small features that I think are absolutely essential and some that are pretty good. Like the Book module.

I’ve seen quite a significant change in the last two or three versions of Moodle. However, from a personal point of view, there are still a number of things that I’d like to see built in and standard.

At the moment I keep some of my chicken scratchings on this topic at Akowiki.  Just a brain dump, little more.

Some of you know my history:

  • 2005, Moodle workshops at another local institution.
  • 2006 a large number of Blackboard workshops (like 40 plus) to help migrate staff from WebCT to Blackboard
  • 2007 WebCT/Bb
  • 2008 the Moodle trial at the University of Canterbury.

The final result of the trial announced in November last year was that we would move to a single supported LMS in 2010, which was to be Moodle. It’s been like a death after 8 years working with Interact. We are now in the middle of a transition process. So Moodle occupies a fair bit of my mind at the moment.

Some of my thoughts include:

  • Navigation issues – crazy bread crumbs, no left menu
  • The best way to support content delivery
  • Blogs (or the lack of them in Moodle)
  • Wikis – Moodle has an inbuilt wiki
  • The reflective journal – not yet functional
  • The file sharing “Database”
  • Multimedia capacity

I think it will take a year to get Moodle to where StudentNet/Interact was in terms of some basic utility.  But in other things, Moodle will make people’s lives after Interact just nice.

So what?  What basic functionality is needed to teach&learn in a formal course? [Social networking aside for now]  What functionality provides a good walled garden in the middle of a taught course, with the right amount of porousness and openness?

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