Guidelines on how to use Moodle
My Moodle Involvement
The purpose of this OER is to provide a guide for those who are now getting started with Moodle. Moodle is a free and open source e-learning software platform (also known as a Course Management System (CMS), or Learning Management Systems (LMS), or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Moodle is designed to help educators create online courses with opportunities for rich interaction. Its open source license and modular design means that people can develop additional functionality. Moodle has a large and diverse user community with over half a million registered users on this site alone, speaking over 75 languages in 193 countries. Moodle was created by Martin Dougiamas, a WebCT administrator at Curtin University, Australia, who has graduate degrees in Computer Science and Education. His Ph.D. examined "The use of Open Source software to support a social constructionist epistemology of teaching and learning within Internet-based communities of reflective inquiry". This research has strongly influenced the design of Moodle, providing pedagogical aspects missing from many other e-learning platforms.
' Moodle Features
Moodle has many features expected from an e-learning platform, plus some original innovations (for example its filtering system).
Moodle is modular in construction and can readily be extended by creating plugins for specific new functionality. Moodle's infrastructure supports many types of plugin:
- Resource types
- Question types
- Data field types (for the database activity)
- Graphical themes
- Authentication methods
- Enrollment methods
- Content Filters
Many third-party Moodle plugins are freely available making use of this infrastructure. PHP can be used to author and contribute new modules. Moodle's development has been assisted by the work of open source programmers. This has contributed towards its rapid development and rapid bug fixes.
Moodle runs without modification on Unix, Linux, FreeBSD, Windows, Mac OS X, NetWare and any other systems that support PHP and a database, including most webhost providers.
Data is stored in a single database: Moodle version 1.6 could use MySQL or PostgreSQL. Version 1.7, released November 2006, makes full use of database abstraction so that installers can choose from one of many types of database servers (Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server are two specific target DBMSes). The current version of Moodle (1.9), was released in March 2008.
Moodle was created by Martin Dougiamas, a WebCT administrator at Curtin University, Australia, who has graduate degrees in Computer Science and Education. His Ph.D. examined "The use of Open Source software to support a social constructionist epistemology of teaching and learning within Internet-based communities of reflective inquiry". This research has strongly influenced the design of Moodle, providing pedagogical aspects missing from many other e-learning platforms.
The stated philosophy of Moodle includes a constructivist and social constructionist approach to education, emphasizing that learners (and not just teachers) can contribute to the educational experience in many ways. Moodle's features reflect this in various design aspects, such as making it possible for students to comment on entries in a database (or even to contribute entries themselves), or to work collaboratively in a wiki.
Having said this, Moodle is flexible enough to allow for a full range of modes of teaching. It can be used for both introductory and advanced delivery of content (e.g. HTML pages) or assessment, and does not necessitate a constructivist teaching approach.
Constructivism is sometimes seen as at odds with accountability-focused ideas about education, such as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in the United States. Accountability stresses tested outcomes, not teaching techniques, or pedagogy, but Moodle is also useful in an outcomes-oriented classroom environment because of its flexibility.
Origin of the Name
The word Moodle is actually an acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment, although originally the M stood for "Martin's", named after Martin Dougiamas, the original developer.
Moodle can also be considered a verb, which describes the improvisational process of doing things as it occurs to you to do them, an enjoyable tinkering that often leads to insight and creativity. As such it applies both to the way Moodle was developed, and to the way a student or teacher might approach studying or teaching an online course.
There are many dimensions to interoperability for e-learning systems. Moodle's interoperability features include:
- Authentication, using LDAP, Shibboleth, or various other standard methods (e.g. IMAP)
- Enrollment, using IMS Enterprise among other standard methods, or by direct interaction with an external database
- Quizzes and quiz questions, allowing import/export in a number of formats: GIFT (moodle's own format), IMS QTI, XML and XHTML (NB although export works very well, import is currently not complete)
- Resources, using IMS Content Packaging, SCORM, AICC (CBT), LAMS
- Integration with other Content Management Systems such as Postnuke (via third-party extensions)
- Syndication, using RSS or Atom newsfeeds - external newsfeeds can be displayed in a course, and forums, blogs, and other features can be made available to others as newsfeeds.
Moodle also has import features for use with other specific systems, such as importing quizzes or entire courses from Blackboard or WebCT.
Deployment and Development
Moodle has been evolving since 1999 (since 2001 with the current architecture). The current version is 1.9, which was released in March 2008. It has been translated into 61 different languages. Major improvements in accessibility and display flexibility were developed in 1.5.
As of March 2008, the Moodle user community with over 400,000 users registered on their site. As there are no license fees or limits to growth, an institution can add as many Moodle servers as needed. The largest single site has reported over 19,000 courses and over 41,000 students, and the Open University of the UK is building a Moodle installation for their 200,000 users.
The development of Moodle continues as a free software project supported by a team of programmers and an international user community, drawing upon contributions posted to an online Moodle Community that encourages debate and invites criticism.
There are some auto install packages to facilitate the installation including Fantastico, JumpBox and the Moodle package for Debian GNU/Linux. Users are free to distribute and modify the software under the terms of the GNU General Public License.
There are some Free Moodle Hosting which allows educators to create Moodle based online class without installation or server knowledge, such as NineHub