Moodle is an open source virtual learning environment (VLE) designed to support e-learning. It provides a range of facilities for developing and maintaining e-learning courses and claims to be distinctive because of its basis in sound pedagogical principles. In the rest of this article we will see how this translates into the facilities provided by Moodle for educators and learners, and show you how to teach with Moodle.
How to Teach with Moodle (and how to learn with Moodle, too!)
There are a wide range of facilities for educators within Moodle. We will review them from the perspective of a small scale e-learning developer such as a training consultant rather than from the perspective of a large educational institution.
They are characterized as either resources, which may be viewed as static, or activities which are interactive. The principal resource type useful to private e-learning developers are web pages which may be created in-situ using the Moodle HTML editor or external pages which may be uploaded into Moodle. In-situ development using the internal WYSIWYG editor requires much less HTML knowledge. Uploading external pages gives the developer much more control over format and structure.
There are a number of activity types which may prove useful including:
The Quiz activity allows the educator to design and set quizzes consisting of a large variety of question types, including multiple choice, true-false, and short answer questions. They are stored the course question bank and can be re-used within courses and between courses. The questions can be automatically marked, and be accompanied by generated feedback and/or show the correct answers.
Feedback on performance is a critical part of a learning environment and assessment is one of the most important activities in education. As educators, this can be time-consuming. Informed use of the Quiz module can automate this process almost entirely.
The assignment activity allows educators to collect work from learners, review it and provide feedback including if required grades.
Learners can submit any digital content, including, word-processed documents, spreadsheets, images, audio and video clips or educators may ask learners to type directly into Moodle using an online text assignment.
For e-learning developers of professional development courses, this may be useful when the course is linked to the learners’ employment and their employer is paying or providing time for study. It can provide evidence of attainment for the employer. On the other hand, this type of activity requires the educator’s intervention, unlike quizzes.
Chats and Forums
The Chat activity allows participants to have a real-time synchronous discussion via the web. This is a useful way for learners to gain understanding from each other and the topic being discussed. The Chat module in Moodle contains a number of features for managing and reviewing chat discussions.
The Forums provide an asynchronous discussion facility, meaning that learners do not have to be on-line at the same time. This often proves more sustainable for learners who are accessing your course at irregular times.
Moodle provides a wide range of tools to engage your learners through resources and activities. The most appropriate ones to use will depend upon your content, audience and their learning styles.