Moodle is another superb e-learning system, or web-based interface, that enables us to set up a wide variety of education resources. The name is an acronym for Modular Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment, and it was created out of difficulties experienced with other commercial systems.
You only need the ability to teach your courses using the text, images, or other media including audio and video. Consequently teachers with no technical skills can set up the site and enable their students to access the course materials, and also to share and interact with others. An additional reason for the popularity of Moodle is its social constructivist approach, whereby it deliberately sets out to enable users to have control of their learning environments, rather than having ideas imposed from above in a top down approach, like most teaching. The idea is to enable students to have more choice about how they learn, so that they can customise the site on their own computers.
One major benefit of Moodle is its enormous economy in terms of time and resources. Instead of having classrooms filled with worksheets, books, and audio and video cassettes, all these can be supplied electronically. This vastly reduces the numbers of CDs, photocopies and other physical supplies that have to be generated, though students can access these whenever they require.
Because of its ease of use, Moodle is excellent for distance learning, but it is really designed to work best with face to face classroom teaching. Although it certainly saves paperwork and time for teachers, the more important reason why teachers like to use it is that it enables students to learn more independently – that is, have more control over their learning – and also more co-operatively. For instance, classroom teachers are able to enhance their teaching with supplementary activities that the students can find online, and also provide links to sites that are relevant to the lesson being taught.
As well as the core provision, Moodle has a large number of optional modules. For instance there is an inbuilt Chat module that is designed as a tool for students working in groups, meaning they can discuss an issue or question prescribed by the teacher – the discussions can be saved and reviewed by the teacher later. There is also the Lesson module, by which the teacher can produce a series of lessons each ending with a question. Students can progress to the next lesson after answering the question correctly. This enables students to spend as much time as they need on lessons they find difficult.
Virtually all educators acknowledge that Moodle provides a highly cost-effective solution for all types of learning, both individual and classroom-based, and throughout the age spectrum. However it has also been found to have a steep learning curve. It is really essential to ensure that learners engage in the most appropriate way from the start, both with the content, and with the platform itself, if they are going to benefit from it.