Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Moodle
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Moodle

Moodle is an Open Source e-learning platform. It has a relatively large - and rapidly growing - userbase

Moodle is a course management system (CMS) - a software package designed to help educators create quality online courses. Such e-learning systems are sometimes also called Learning Management Systems (LMS), Virtual Learning Environments (VLE), education via computer-mediated communication (CMC) or Online Education.

Background

Moodle was the creation of Martin Dougiamas, an unsatisfied WebCT administrator with postgraduate degrees in Computer Science and Education. Martin's later PhD studies examined "The use of Open Source software to support a social constructionist epistemology of teaching and learning within Internet-based communities of reflective inquiry". The development of Moodle has integrated a number of technological tools and pedagogical aspects missing from other commercial e-learning platforms.

Constructivism asserts that children should be taught in a way that allows them to construct their own understandings about a subject, the teacher helps a student to "uncover" the facts and ideas in a subject area. The constructivist pedagogy that informs activities in Moodle has created a space for students to think more deeply by freeing them from the pressures of the classroom moment.

Deployment and Development

Moodle has been evolving since 1999 (since 2001 with the current architecture). Major improvements in accesibility and e-learning standards are planned for Moodle 2.0 and 2.1 by the middle of 2004. Current version is 1.3.3, which was released on Fri 16 July 2004.

As of March 31, 2004, 1098 sites from 81 countries have registered their Moodle installation. It is translated into 37 different languages. The real number of current active Moodle installations is unknown, but there may figure in the thousands. As there are no licence costs and growth limit, an institution can add as many Moodle servers as needed. The most active site has reported over 1,400 courses and about 17,000 students.

The development of Moodle continues as an Open Source software project supported by a team of programmers and user community. This means that users are free to download it, use it, modify it and even distribute it (under the terms of the GPL License from GNU).

Specification

Moodle runs without modification on Unix, Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, NetWare and any other systems that support PHP, including most webhost providers. Data is stored in a single database: MySQL and PostgreSQL are best supported, but it can also be used with Oracle, IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, Borland Interbase, Informix, Visual Foxpro, SAP DB, SQLite, Sybase, Microsoft Access, ADO and generic ODBC database access, since it uses ADOdb.

Moodle features

1) About e-learning standards: there is already a SCORM module for Moodle (a contributed one). Moodle 1.2 can also import IMS QTI quizzes (and also WebCT and Blackboard ones). There is also a WebCT/IMS to Moodle conversion tool. You can also use external SCORM players and SCORM module creators (such as Reload).

2) It has many features that any e-learning platform has to have: good Forums, content managing (Resources), Quizzes with lots of different kind of questions and 9 more out-of-the-box activity modules (v1.2) (Assignment, Chat, Choice, Glossary, Journal, Label, Lesson, Survey and Workshop) and many other contributed ones (Appointment, Attendance, Dialogue, Excercise, Scheduler, Webwork, Calendar, SCORM, WebQuest, Document Management System, etc.). This is the case because Moodle is modular and can be easily extended creating activity modules.

3) It is easy to work with for teachers, students and admins. It is also easy to install and upgrade. It is even easy to develop new modules, since they are written in PHP, an easy script language.

4) It can be integrated with any corporate system via external database authentification. There is even a Postnuke plugin to integrate Moodle with it.

5) It is Open Source. That means very fast development and bug fixing, and no tricks (you can see everything). Of course, it means also that it is free, and it has no license costs, so you can install as many servers as you want with no aditional cost. Commercial platforms use closed technology and it is them who choose the prices. For example, WebCT grew a lot with low prices and then raised them a lot, when their customers had a large number of courses that were very difficult to move to another platform. They got lots of money with this policy, but now many WebCT admins are moving towards other e-learning platforms. There are many WebCT and BlackBoard ex-admins in Moodle forums that have moved their courses and users to Moodle.

6) It is topic oriented, instead of being funcion oriented as most of e-learning platforms are. This means that everything is organized around sections (topics), which have their own tools (such as forums, contents and quizzes). Most e-learning platforms are organized around tools: ALL the contents here, ALL the quizzes there, ALL the forums in another place,... Moodle approach is much more related to the modern concept of Learning Objects (though sections are not really that)

7) Its main strength: There is a community of about 1,400 very active people from all over the World working together in order to improve Moodle (Using Moodle). There are also a Documentation project, a Language teaching community, a place to Exchange Moodle courses, etc.

8) Reliable. There are many research papers, articles and reviews on Moodle. There are also some Moodle autoinstall packages, such as Fantastico and the Moodle package for the Debian Linux Distribution.

9) If you want, you can get commercial services, such as inmediate support from Moodle developers, professional Moodle hosting and customized development for anything related to Moodle at: http://moodle.com . Anyway, you can develop your own Online training system without having to pay a single dollar for it. You can install it even in a simple desktop PC running any Windows version.

Moodle is the most popular Open Source alternative to commercial e-learning platforms such as WebCT and BlackBoard.

External links