I think it's time I became more informed about this increasingly popular Learning Management System.
I've been hearing a lot of buzz about Moodle, a widely used free, open source, public domain courseware application, for the last year or two, but my interest in it has been limited because I am more experienced and comfortable with the traditional paid application model. My main concern is that Moodle is open source software.
Concerns about not having a traditional vendor relationship and support arrangements to rely on make me reluctant to seriously consider open source software, particularly in a smaller institution such as mine. For example, I assume we would need to dedicate a couple support specialists to develop the expertise to act as sole support for the app, and this could be a real resource stretch. But this is an uninformed assumption. I imagine I may like some of what I learn if get a better understanding of how these solutions really work.
I'll start my self education on this topic by looking around Moodle's main home on the web – Moodle.org. This site is simple and well organized, and it is built using the Moodle application. It is organized into 6 main sections: About, News, Support, Community, Development, and Downloads. Here's a few brief points about some of these site sections:
- About: The About Page gives a quick overview of the application and it's history. Here I learned that “Moodle can be installed on any computer that can run PHP, and can support an SQL type database”, and that “the word Moodle was originally an acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment”.
- Community: The Community page provides access to a wide variety of resources, including Forums, Events, lists of Registered Sites (institutions who have chosen to share the fact that they are Moodle users), and a Moodle Jobs database (“Moodle-related positions world-wide”).
- Development: “The main development of Moodle is led by the core team at Moodle.com, helped by hundreds of other developers around the world” (more on Moodle.com below). The Development Page includes access to the development forum, Developer documentation, a Moodle Roadmap, a Tracker app where you can “see who is working on what, and contribute to any conversation”. This page also provides access to the full source code, and links to modules and plug ins.
- Downloads: This page is where you'll go to pull down Moodle software packages and plug-ins (available for Windows Server or Desktop and Mac OS X).
- Forums: I think it's pretty interesting that Moodle.org's forums are delivered in the form of “courses” right on the site (note that you have to register in each forum ‘course' to use it). The forums are grouped on this page into three areas: a support and development forum for discussion between between users and developers, the primary forum for Moodle users to communicate with each other, and then all other forums (there are a lot, some in English and many in other languages).
- Support: The Support Page has links to Documentation, Forums, Books & Manuals, and Commercial Services. I've heard good things about how effective the support community is at helping to support the application.
Moodle.com is an official partner site to Moodle.org, and provides a range of additional information and resources, such as:
- Consulting: This page provides links to dozens of qualified Moodle consulting specialists across the world, by country.
- Themes: Professionally designed Moodle themes, to give your Moodle installation your own look and feel.
- Training: Lists of Partners who provide training.
- Certification: Lists of Partners who can provide certification, based on a rigorous and highly-regarded assessment program.
This is a good start, but I've only scratched the surface. We'll continue this learning journey next week, as I do more research, and share knowledge I gain through continued browsing, dialogue with collegues, reader responses, and more. Please come back and join us.
If you are an experienced Moodle user or administrator, or just someone with informed observations to make about the application or about open source software, please comment and share your insights and experiences. Thanks!
A special welcome to readers of Microsoft’s Teacher Tech Blog!
I’ve been selected as one of 5 education technology bloggers to guest post this week on Microsoft’s Teacher Tech blog. They published this post on Friday announcing the 5 chosen bloggers and the series of posts we'll be doing. My post, “5 More Internet Technologies Educators Should Be Aware Of”, was published on the site on Tuesday, May 4. Please stop by and take a look around this fun and informative blog site.
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