We have been using Moodle as our core application for creating an elearning environment. It has been very stable, reliable, and functional beyond our expectations. From teacher classrooms to human resource functions, moodle has been a star in our eLearning strategy.
Due to law, every staff member must watch a video and verify that they received training in dealing with Bloodborne Pathegons. Moodle has saved the individual who administers this several weeks in time spent collecting signitures, verification, and reporting to the State. Moodle is helping us to streamline administrative tasks.
We all know the benefits of teachers using Moodle, but it's worth mentioning how much students appreciate Moodle. We actually had so much use of Moodle in the beginning that it overwhelmed the server it was housed on. The old server was just not up to the task. We were in the process of moving Moodle to a brand new server and I messed something up in the database and it crashed the whole system. The students were scheduled to begin taking mid-term exams in 4 days. Needless to say, the students were very upset with the prospect of taking a paper mid-term. I worked throughout the weekend restoring the courses from backup and was actually able to get the system backup and running just in time. It made the teachers a little anxious, but they were happy in the end. This incident exposed for us how much students like learning and interacting in Moodle.
From the numerous add-ons and plugins for moodle we are able to expand the learning tools teachers can use. The social bookmarking and Google Maps activities as well as the games are becoming increasingly popular with students and teachers. This adds tremendous value to our investment in Moodle. The ability to freely enhance the system is a major bonus. By far, the most popular new add-on involves Moodle Roaming and Mahara. With Moodle and Mahara, students now have a publishing system by which they can create learning spaces and collaborate via groups and views in Mahara. With the single sign-on, enrollment and moving from one program to the other is seamless.
Taking things one-step further, we added OpenMeetings for real-time video/audio communications and whiteboard interactivity. This is a major plus for our advanced students who need to communicate on projects outside the classroom. Teachers can allow them to work from home and collaborate on their projects without worrying about transportation. Other teachers are exploring video pen-pals with classes in other states and countries. This opens up a whole new world to students. Even in our own community, video pen-pals is exciting between any of our 32 or so schools.
What Moodle has allowed our K-12 District to accomplish rivals some of our local colleges and universities in terms of function and ease of use. Every student and staff member logs into the system via their district ID and password. Every teacher then has permissions to create a new course at any time they choose. There is no waiting for some admin to create a course for them. We do offer course templates that we duplicate for beginners, but there is no waiting if a teacher wants to jump in and just get started.
Moodle has given us a unique opportunity to reach the new web generation in the classroom. With tools such as "live" video communication, IM, social bookmarking, wikis, blogs, and social networking it is no wonder the teachers who use Moodle in our district have students who are more engaged in learning.
We just added Mahara and Open Meetings this year, so students are testing the waters. Teachers are planning on requiring students to keep learning profiles in Mahara on various subjects. The Mahara View/webpage creation tool allows users to build webpages using widgets similar to netvibes and pageflakes. There is a learning curve, but some students are already forming groups and creating views on their own. In the first week we had roughly 200 users roam from Moodle to Mahara and begin exploring the website.
I am very excited with the possibilities of Moodle + Mahara + Open Meetings. This to me represents a complete eLearning environment. From communication and social networks to structured learning and student publishing the tools are there to accomplish the job.
Moodle is the core that allows us to build, expand and interact with the various other tools. A sincere thanks to all the developers, coders, hacks, and Martin for making all this possible.
Thanks for reading my thoughts on Moodle and where you can go with it.
I did enjoy reading this! Thanks for sharing.