Moodle – The free open-source classroom in a box

Moodle Classroom

Once you “Moodle” you’ll be hooked!

One of my first projects in the Open Source world of software was installing and configuring MOODLE for a client.  When I came onto the project (several years ago) I was largely unfamiliar with the whole free distribution program concept anyway.  And I was certainly not up to speed on this piece of software.   I had never heard of Moodle, I had never installed it, never used it, didn’t even know it existed. Boy was I in for a big surprise. A pleasant surprise.

So what is it? Why would anybody want Moodle anyway?

Moodle is a classroom on the web.  Essentially it is designed for organizations or individuals who want to teach, offer courses, test their students, offer grading, allow for student interaction, and much more.  This is a complete out-of-the-box solution for any educational or testing Endeavour.

Moodle has configurable options for the following features.

  • Site Management – design, look and feel, languages, master email settings, adding more plug-ins, etc
  • User Management – tracking of student progress,  courses enrolled, courses yet to complete, profile settings, permission to access certain parts of the site, etc.
  • Enrollment – restricted access to parts of the course(s), cross course user access management
  • Course Management
    • Assignments and tracking and student upload for assignment completion
    • Online chat for inter-classroom conversation
    • Configurable polls for research and general feedback
    • User Forums for news, class discussions, posting photos or other collaboration materials
    • Online Glossary  where definitions can be created and discussed
    • Lesson Module – The core of the online classroom including course pages, grading, progress bar, timers, and much more
    • Quizzes – completely configurable quizzes can be created for each course or topic with multiple choice, T/F, numeric, and essay type answers. Scores are recorded and tracked for both the student and the teacher to review.
    • Resource Module – a storage place for electronic content like Word docs, PDFs, Flash, video, audio, and more. Available to students according to the teacher’s desired settings.
    • Surveys – feedback from students
    • WIKI – web pages that anyone can edit (on a course by course basis)
    • Workshop Module – Peer assessment of documents with teacher oversight.
    • And More

These are a ton great features that come standard with Moodle. But don’t worry. You don’t need to use them all to be effective. You can install Moodle and simply add the individual modules as needed. I know people who use Moodle just for the testing ability alone.

But the single greatest feature of Moodle in my opinion is the ‘Enrollment’ process. This can be as restricted as you desire. And there’s no limit to the number of courses you can offer. So for example you can offer one course for free and have another course (in the same installation) for $350. The enrollment cost can either be collected through your Moodle installation OR you can sell the enrollment key(s) through a shopping cart on a completely different site.  It’s very flexible and very powerful.

Installation is not super easy though. You do have to know a little programming, but once it’s up and running… there’s no end to the classroom possibilities. And you can configure your courses with no programming knowledge

For more detailed information on the features inside Moodle and what it has to offer, go here:  http://docs.moodle.org/en/Features

To have Moodle professionally installed, contact AboutWD: http://aboutwd.com

If you have tried Moodle in the past, please let me know what you think of it. Leave a comment.

Also watch “How can Moodle change a school”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjLukDNtf3k

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