Thursday, July 27, 2006

In the Moodle

In the past “Virtual Learning Environments” were regarded with suspicion by teachers as a sci fi concept in which teachers are replaced with computers. After attending Moodlemoot ’06 at the Open University, I can honestly say that Moodle, the open source course management system, is actually whatever the teacher wants it to be.

The course seminars included teachers from diverse disciplines from Science to English to Music and of course ICT who all used Moodle to teach in the way which suited them.

Although the system is based on a social constructivist model of education, teachers frequently start out using it to replicate traditional classroom activities like essay-writing, feedback and redrafting or quizzes/tests with the slight difference that these are self-marking and pupils get instant feedback. Teachers only then go on to some of the more unusual features of Moodle like Wikis, blogs, asynchronous discussion groups and podcasting.

And because it is Open Source free software, teachers can contribute to the future design of Moodle without some acquisitive corporations we could mention seeking to block them under the pretext of “business secrets”.

Moodle is now used by over 100000 registered users, including the Open University. It is free to download and use and many schools and local authorities who have poured hundreds of thousands of pounds into the coffers of Microsoft are keen to find free software.

If you want to find out more there is a website which talks about the conference and demonstrates the program at the same time. It is called and all of the conference is available as audio or video files. I recommend the audio file because the video quality will depend on the quality of your computer.



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