Moodle is a learning management system for creating internet-based courses. It was designed to support a social constructionist framework of education. Moodle is provided freely as open source software. You are allowed to copy, use and modify Moodle provided that you agree to: provide the source to others, not modify or remove the original license and copyrights, and apply this same license to any derivative work.

Martin Dougiamas started Moodle and continues to lead the project. As Moodle has spread more input is being drawn from a wider variety of people in different teaching situations. Moodle is now used not only in universities, but in high schools, primary schools, non-profit organizations, private companies, by independent teachers, and home schooling parents.

The overall design of Moodle promotes a social constructionist pedagogy, which involves collaboration, activities, and critical reflection. The environment is suitable for online classes as well as supplementing face-to-face learning. The learning management system is easy to install on almost any platform that supports PHP. One Moodle site can support thousands of courses and they can be categorized and searched. The open source of Moodle uses plug in “themes” which allow the administrators to customize the site colors, fonts, and layout to fit individual needs. Currently Moodle has 43 language packs available for the learning management system. In addition every user can choose the language used for the Moodle interface like English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, etc.

The course management component of Moodle allow an array of course activities like forums, journals, quizzes, choices, surveys, assignments, chats, and discussion boards. All grades for forums, journals, quizzes, and assignments can be viewed on a single page and is downloadable as a spreadsheet file. The course management component of Moodle also provides full user logging and tracking with activity reports for each student with graphs and details about each module (last access, number of times visited) as well as a detailed “story” of each student’s involvement including postings, journal entries, etc. on one page. As you can see, Moodle the learning management system created by Martin Dougiamas is perfect for online courses, staff development, or supplementing face-to-face learning.

The following is a discussion of the various modules teachers and students can utilize with Moodle. Each module is essential for a successful online course.

Assignment Module

  • Assignments can be specified with a due date and a maximum grade
  • Students can upload their assignments with any file format to the server and they will be date-stamped
  • Teacher feedback is appended to the assignment page for each student, and notification is mailed out

Chat Module

  • Allows synchronous text interaction
  • Includes profile picture in the chat window
  • All sessions are logged for later viewing

Choice Module

  • Can be used to vote on something to get feedback from every student
  • Students can optionally be allowed to see up-to-date graph of results

Forum Module

  • Different types of forums are available, such as teacher-only, course news, open to all, or one-thread-per-user
  • All postings have the author’s photos attached
  • Each student can subscribe to individual forums or the teacher can force subscription for all
  • Discussion threads can be easily moved between forums by the teacher

Journal Module

  • Journals are private between the student and teacher
  • Each journal entry can be directed by an open question
  • For each particular journal entry, the whole class can be assessed on one page in one form
  • Teacher feedback is appended to the journal entry page, and notification is mailed out

Quiz Module

  • Teachers can define a database of questions for re-use in different quizzes
  • Quizzes are automatically graded and can be re-graded if questions are modified
  • Quizzes can have a limited time window of which they are not available
  • The module support multiple-choice questions, short answer question (words or phrases), and true/false questions

Survey Module

  • Online survey reports are always available including graphs
  • Data is downloadable as an Excel spreadsheet or LSV text file

Moodle is the most popular open source alternative to commercial learning management systems such as WebCT and Blackboard. Thanks to Martin Dougiamas the educational world has an outstanding learning management system. The modules that have been developed allow the teacher and student to experience the course of the future. Come Moodle with us.