You've come to the right place. There are some helpful, knowledgeable and experienced Moodlers on these forums.
As an introduction to installing and using Moodle, I wrote this article: http://blog.matbury.com/2012/01/02/do-you-want-to-get-started-with-moodle/
If you're happy with that, then the next step is to look for an appropriate web hosting provider so you can set up an online Moodle. Some hosting providers even provide Moodle on a one click installer script.
I hope this helps!
Thanks for your answer. I am looking for a service that is set up for the end user. Looks like Moodle is not an option for me.
You still have several options to access up-and-running Moodle services:
1) Get a small sandbox account with one of the Moodle Partners - I'd suggest Remote-Learner or Moodlerooms in the U.S. You will get a fully hosted, ready-to-go installation. Remote-Learner publishes their prices, so you can look at the cost of several hosting options. Moodlerooms will provide a quote upon request.
2) If you do not charge for your courses you can add them to the Free Moodle site, http://www.freemoodle.org/
3) Search the web for 'free moodle hosting'. I hesitate to suggest this because free hosting may not be reliable. However, it is a place to get started if needed. Just be aware of risks and limitations.
Thanks. I will search some sites. Sandbox on remote-learner is $995. That is out of my price range. Especially when I don't even know what I am buying.
If anyone knows of a moodle hosting site that is ready for course creation, let me know. I don't have server access, etc at school. I need a web based creation system where I can pay, login, and start creating! I would really appreciate any suggestions.
If the Moodle Partners are too expensive, try the following:
Free hosting sites listed on moodle.org (may be out of date) http://docs.moodle.org/20/en/Free_Moodle
The following free hosting services are not Moodle Partners and not affiliated with Moodle.org or Moodle.com in any way. I have no experience with them, but they might be a place to get started. Personally, I would not place any critical content on their servers nor rely on them for long term service - just my opinion because I do not know their viability.
Web Teacher Tools http://webteachertools.com/wtt/
Key To School http://webteachertools.com/wtt/
Steve, I'd go, for a starting out, to http://www.freemoodle.org/.
You can click the Paypal link to make a donation, but it is not compulsary, although I encourage it. These guys are good guys, and it seems (anecdotally) to be enough for what I think you want (Ie this seems to be to teach a class) Any more, more complexities and you will want more power - probably.
If/when you reach this stage you can zip up your course, and restore it into a new destination. ie play time, development time is not wasted.
When you get in to a new Moodle course and set up:
You will be confronted with a blank course, divided into sections with settings; you will have the role of an administrator.
You then need to build your course by adding items like files, forums and labels. Help: From a random Youtube video I have not watched:
I suggest plan first on paper or whiteboard. If you come back for help, then ask specific questions starting from what you want to achieve. Use the Getting Started forum. Few people take this advice. and you have the problem often that you don't know what you don't know.
From the docs, a random possible page to start: http://docs.moodle.org/22/en/About_Moodle_FAQ#Starting_with_Moodle
I was in the same boat as you a few years ago, a teacher who wanted to have an online course (or at least some online compenents to my face to face classes). What I did was get some cheap web hosting via a company like Siteground (about $70/year). Then I used their built in installer to set up a Moodle site with a few simple clicks. Once I had the Moodle site created I was the administrator and so created my courses, added resources and activities, and had my students create accounts. This is a great place to start (or some of the free Moodle course hosting services folks have mentioned).
This worked for me for a year and was so successful that other teachers wanted to do the same thing. We convinced our IT department to set up an old server with Moodle. After another year of that even more teachers wanted in on this great tool, so the district contracted with Remote Learner for a Moodle site able to handle a few hundred teachers and 2000 students.
After a few years of this it is now essential to our schools. We now have every student logging into Moodle at least once a week (the average student logs in 10 times a week and has 40 page views a week).
So while starting with Moodle isn't as easy as some of these newer websites, it has some great advantages when it starts to grow at your school. As you start to use Moodle I really recommend posting to the support forums with any questions and using the Moodle documentation wiki because the community here is great.
Something else that I've found a time-saver with Moodle are specialised books. Personally, I like these: http://www.packtpub.com/books/moodle All the information in them is available elsewhere on Moodle docs, forums, blog posts, etc., but having them compiled and organised into books with clear concise descriptions and explanations saves a lot of time.
Steve, to amplify and add to what Colin said... when I got started with Moodle a few years ago, I got a free hosting account with HostGator (unfortunately, they've decided to end the program where they provided a year's free account to non-commercial or educational organizations). That not only got me a web site that I could use for all of the things that web sites are good for, but also a Moodle installation that took only a few clicks in the control panel to set up. It really is very easy to get going, plus with deference to the 'free' hosting sites, a commercial host vendor will usually have more than one data center with disaster contingency protocols that insure that your site and course stay available in almost all instances. For $67/year (in the case of my paid Hostgator account) that reliability is definitely worth it.
Good luck with your endeavor.