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New user, the technical lingo is killing me!!

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Picture of Abigail Smith
New user, the technical lingo is killing me!!

Hello friendly and helpful Moodlers,

I'm an IDT (Instructional Design & Technology) student, and I'm wanting to create some online courses as class projects (independent study) to give my theoretical studies some practical exercise.  I heard Moodle was a free LMS, and decided to try it, since that should be easier than building an entire HTML website from scratch (which I don't actually have the skills to do anyway).  But I'm having trouble getting this thing off the ground, so I can actually focus on the instructional design part!  I've read through as much documentation as I could stand, but I'm getting so confused with the techie stuff... Please help!

So, some specific questions are:

They keep talking about a server.  I've built basic websites in the past (the extent of my website knowledge is some basic HTML and basic CSS), and have always paid a hosting company for server space.  Do I need to do this for a Moodle course?  Or do I need to buy a server?  Can I just save my courses on my own hard drive or on a cloud somewhere?  At this point, the only people who need to see the course are myself, one collaborator (a subject matter expert), and my professor, so if I could store the files on a cloud, I could share with those two people, right?  I'd also like to be able to test my courses with a couple outsiders, for clarity, quality, etc.

I downloaded the MAMP package onto my MacBook Pro (OSX 10.8), as the documentation told me to do, and I got so far as to go to that fake webpage. (I call it a fake webpage, not to be insulting, but because I can recognize that it isn't a normal website that I could send someone a link to). The MAMP thingie told me to go to "localhost:8888/Moodle24" (the fake webpage I mentioned) in my browser, which I did, and was able to start playing around.  But I have no idea if what I'm doing in there is valid, if it is being saved somewhere (I'm assuming it's saved somewhere, because I was able to come back to it after closing...), or how I will share my work with others.

I guess I'm basically wanting to get out of the birth canal of all these technical setup issues, and into the real world of designing educational environments.  smile  Anyone a good midwife in this area?

Thanks so much.

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Phil Everist
Re: New user, the technical lingo is killing me!!

Hi Abigail

Welcome to the world of Moodle

I'll add a few points based on my own mid level knowldge and let others add/clarify or correct as appropriate.

While it's techncially possible to set your personal computer up as a 'web server" that could be reached by anyone on the internet to get to your local moodle site (i.e. on your computer), this is not all that simple and probably not practical as it would need to be on and connected to the internet at all times so people can get to it whenever they want.

The 2 options  to consider are:

Add your courses to a free moodle site such as - I'm pretty sure you can just request an account and be set up with 'teacher' permissions to create and share your courses. Search 'free moodle hosting'  for other options and there are likely other sites where you can pay a small amount to set up one or more courses (i.e. the cloud option you mentioned).

The other option is to use a hosting company for server space to set up your own site (as you mentioned you have done previously for websites) - installing and running Moodle is not too dissimilar to installing and operating a Content Management System for a website such as Joomla, Concrete5 etc). The main thing here is having access to the server to upload the moodle implementation zip file to load and implement much the same way as you have done on your MacBook .

All the hosts I have used have come with 'cpanel' access which is a software application that gives you acsess to a whole range of functions such as managing emails accounts, a file manager, access to the SQL databases Moodle will create and use etc .  Many hosts also have an area called Fantastico (or something similar) which has a list of installation scripts for popular products including Moodle where you can just run the script and it will guide you through the process (check version the script is up to).

Alternatively you may just have FTP access to the server 

FYI - a 'server' is just an intrernet connected computer running special software to 'serve' up information on request - mail server sotware handles email requests (mailto: protocol) and web server software handles internet requests (http:// ,https:// protocols) - your hosting company gives you access to their server which is already internet connected.

There will be a default address based on the web hosts internet address that will display your site without purchasing a web address to get to it - talk to your host about this if needed.

I have always had a domain name I've purchased (web address like   that I update with the DNS Server names of my web host (so the domain points to my web host when people enter it) then add the domain to the hosting account (creating the top level folder matching the domain name) which is where I then install Moodle  (e.g. under  


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Picture of Abigail Smith
Re: New user, the technical lingo is killing me!!

OK, awesome. I'm definitely going to search for a hosting company, then. I didn't realize there were companies dedicated to this... I should have guessed.  I would totally pay to have someone deal with the IT stuff for me, as long as it's not too much.  I've been getting headaches and crabbiness from trying to figure this all out. 


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Picture of Nadav Kavalerchik
Re: New user, the technical lingo is killing me!!
Group Core developersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup TestersGroup Translators

These are some very helpful advises!!!

Please see if you can add them into the Moodle Docs wiki. somewhere handy and accessable to newbies smile

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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: New user, the technical lingo is killing me!!
Group Core developersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developers

Installing the MAMP package was the right way to get started, and to quicly and easily start using Moodle on your own computer.

Once you have built something that you want other people to see, you will need to transfer the Moodle course somwhere else, and you can do that using Moodle's backup and restore system. Phil gave you some options for getting a real Moodle server on the internet.

P.S. I was amused to read the title of your post, and then see acronyms like IDT and LMS in the first paragraph, so we all use technical lingo. It is just that the technical lingo that we are familiar with is not scary.

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Picture of Abigail Smith
Re: New user, the technical lingo is killing me!!

Thank you.  I don't think I want to worry about having to transfer something down the road.  So I'll probably just put the courses on a hosted system, and leave them there.

Yeah,  you're right, lingo is inevitable... Thanks for making me smile, as well, by pointing that out!  I don't consider my field to be "technical," though. It's a soft science.  smile

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