Comparisons and advocacy

Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad

 
Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad
Particularly helpful Moodlers
From a personal communication received last week from a senior academic in a well-known university:

<quote>
I have to say I really liked Moodle and it is a massive improvement from Blackboad we used to use.
</quote>

The background: This is in a classical, i.e. face-to-face, engineering school. The university expects the teachers to use the LMS to augment their teaching. For a over a decade it used to be Blackboard and only a couple of years ago it was phased out by Moodle.

 
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Picture of dawn alderson
Re: Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad
 

yes.

don't you be running at me Visvanath with guns a-blazing though....want to introduce a key word for your ponder-time:

immediacy 

just my take-which you can leave out of the equation by choice, of course.

D

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

Visvanath, that has been my personal experience as well, but we moved to Moodle long before Blackboard was officially dropped. 

@Dawn... here is a concept for you to consider...

....levels of abstraction often obscure relevance....

 
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Picture of dawn alderson
Re: Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad
 

...line up the pawns

just elbowed over my King

Best of three?

D

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

mmm -Mill on Tennyson

 
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Picture of dawn alderson
Re: Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad
 

corr Colin-you got me there.....been a while since I read any philosophy/theories by JS Mill...had to look up the name-only to make sure it wasn't Stuart John Mill clown

What I remember was that the chap during the 1800s had some sort of philosophical theory about fibbing...which contrasted with Kant's if everybody lied  we would not know what to believe.....

I would take his critique of the lady of Shallot with a pinch of salt...scuse pun......because he may have lied about it all anyway.


One thing I agree with JS Mill: is his take on inductive reasoning......

tangent....what tangent-whooosh...........big grin  

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

Try JS Mill "Thoughts on Poetry and its Varieties" While it has been a long, long time it is still an interesting take on Poetry.  

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad
Particularly helpful Moodlers
Hi Colin

This of course was about a single person, how much one could generalize on that is a different matter.

I dare to say that, this is the kind of teachers who embraced Moodle right from its beginning and boosted Moodle's acceptance in the academia. Unfortunately, for them, somewhere along the track Moodle made a swing and embraced the coorporate user! I am sorry to hear that you also belong to the former group.
 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Visvanath, the modern reality is that the education process has been taken over by those who believe that education should be a competitive and profitable venture, thereby cementing privilege, but that is another matter. Nations all over the world are embracing this nonsense, and if Moodle wishes to survive, it too must head in that direction. No matter how it develops the fact is that even a small part of Moodle will still be useful in the educative process and it is really up to us to utilise as much of it as we can. I really hope though, that Moodle doesn't really accept corporate bland... that would be seriously boring. smile  


 
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Picture of Peter Seaman
Re: Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad
 
Okay, now this conversation is getting interesting. smile

I'd like to hear more about how Moodle's functionality has become "corporatized." The idea that Moodle has become "corporatized" implies that there are specific and unique ways learning activities are enabled in corporate environments, but in my experience there are lots of different types of corporate environments - think of Apple vs Microsoft, or Microsoft vs Google, or Proctor & Gamble vs Enron, or your corner grocery store vs Costco or Tesco.

A while ago I posted a question in this space about how the design of the Moodle forums enabled a constructionist learning theory, but I was quite frankly a bit disappointed in the answers I heard. I was hoping to discover some deep thinking around the design of this learning tool within Moodle - stories of valiant striving to do not just what technology allows us to do easily, but to hammer the iron of technology into tools that enable the best kinds of learning. I do think Moodle is way ahead of everyone else in the LMS field in articulating a vision for learning, which the LMS enables. I think Martin & Co are absolutely correct in thinking that people learn best what they themselves create, which is the heart of constructionist learning theory (and also constructivist learning theory). To the extent that an online discussion forum allows learners to create something meaningful for themselves, it facilitates learning a la that theory. So would a discussion forum be used differently in a corporate learning environment than in, say, an elementary school or a university class? And if so, how would you design it differently? (no postings unless approved by "corporate masters"?).

This tension between how learning is enabled in many learning environments and how we would LIKE it to be enabled is (or should be) a central issue in how Moodle is designed. Much of the discussion surrounding the quiz tool, for example, which I follow in Tim Hunt's excellent quiz forum, seems to revolve around that tension - for example, "We don't want students to be able to cheat on high-stakes tests that we give in our school / college / university!" So let's design in a lock-down browser, IP address matching, random question generator, etc etc. But if you see the quiz tool as enabling meaningful and repetitive low-stakes practice that builds low-level knowledge (in Bloom's taxonomy) that is then used and demonstrated in other contexts - well, you wouldn't need all of those add-ons. I see Moodle's well-intentioned developers walking this tightrope constantly. And since I work in a learning environment that relies on a commercial LMS, I see the C-LMS folks always trying to gain a competitive advantage by enabling - essentially pandering to - lots of really bad learning practices. As one of my mentors liked to say, "The customer isn't always right, but ... (pregnant pause) ... the customer is never wrong!"

Peter
 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersTesters

I am not aware of Moodle's functionality being "corporatized" at all. To take the example of supporting lock down browsers as an "anti cheating tool"  , it seems to be supported because people ask for it, not because there is a deep conviction that it is the height of what an LMS should strive for (a position I support).

 
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Picture of Peter Seaman
Re: Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad
 

True, people ask for features such as lock-down browser support to be added. But does that feature then enable sound instructional practice? It seems to me that taking tests online is a learning activity that is situated in an artificial context. That is, if we believe all learning is situated (and I think Moodle's founders would agree it is), then the online quiz is only an approximation of sound learning practice - getting good at taking online quizzes prepares you to be good at taking online quizzes, not solely for demonstrating the higher-order skills we want students to be able to demonstrate. So when we enable high-stakes testing in the LMS, we are, in that sense, enabling poor instructional practice.

I realize my argument is a tad hyperbolic, but I'm just trying to make a point about how the design of the LMS reflects sound instructional practice, or not. I also realize that there's ongoing debate about whether educational media bias certain kinds of behavior, or whether they are instructionally neutral (see Kozma vs Clark, and others). Thanks.  - Peter

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: pros and cons of automated testing
Core developersDocumentation writersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developers

The sports analogy, which limited and a bit cliched, is of some use.

Let us suppose you want to be a football player. Then the authentic practice is to kick a ball around with your team-mates. However, any serious sport-person will spend at least some time in the gym doing basic fitness training. And the don't run on a treadmill, or lift weights, just because it will make them better at those skills. They do it to help improve their football playing. And, they are probably guided in what exercises to do by their trainer.

Similarly, in many (not all) educational situations, an experienced teacher can sometimes set artificial exercises which will help their students improve the authentic skills that are the real goal. Classic examples would be grammar and vocabulary practice in languages, and calculating practice in maths and science. These exercises can often me more effective and fun on a computer. (E.g. immediate feedback == instant gratification, a chance to learn from your mistakes, and confidence building.)

However, it cannot be denied that there are far too many dysfunctional educational systems, where far to much weight is given to certain high-stakes tests, which strongly incentivise teacher to drill their students to those tests. However, that is not the fault of the online testing tools, and it is not the scenario that motivates the people who develop online testing tools.

Also, computers can ... Sorry, correction, ... skilful teachers and question authors can use computer-marked assessment to  test/teach some higher-order skills.

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: pros and cons of automated testing
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersTesters
The most common use of the word quiz in UK English is to precede it with the word Pub. Landlords put out signs inviting people to come in for the Quiz. People go out for interest and entertainment to explore their own and other peoples knowledge. People enjoy taking part in a quiz. In the same way a Moodle quiz can be an enjoyable way for students to explore and extend their knowledge and for teachers to know more about that knowledge. 


My students used to complain if I gave a lesson without a quiz. My quizzes were low stakes and quick to take, typically having 10 to 15 marks.


Now imagine the Pub landlord put out a sign that said come in for the Exam.....

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

Just to bring the conversation back a little... 

The question above asks us what is it that we see as "the corporatization " of Moodle. I admit to being a little puzzled by this term, but others assure me in their musings that the learning needs of educational institutions are being overlooked in favour of the training needs of corporations. For me, this is a pretty vague and I suspect a little irrelevant. 

Education itself is moving away from education into "job readiness" and "employable skills sets". Basically, instead of education, schools are little more than kid factories. Why not, Ken Robinson assures us that is all they ever were anyway. Look at some of his Ted Talks, like this one.  While there is a degree of truth in this, it is not the whole truth. 

Same for Moodle. While some things are changing in Moodle to meet the corporate need, that is not a bad thing of itself. It gives Moodle a larger base upon which to build if it becomes a well adapted tool in the corporate sector. More and more corporate users are reviewing their options with regard to Open Source, for good reasons; which is an entirely different topic and I do not want to go into it here.  This also means that Moodle needs to be more innovative and flexible, and give users the opportunity to really build their own LMS with the tools they really need, an interface that reflects their identity, corporate or otherwise. Bootstrap looks like that might just be tool that fulfils that need. Integrating with products like Silverlight and the Mac equivalent is going to be necessary, I suggest.  

I don't see any of these things being a bad thing. Education or training, still means that the tool is a tool that is being used for the purpose for which it was created. All I am concerned about is that the innovative edge Moodle has worked so hard at building since v2.0 is not leaving behind the polishing required for the mods and plugins that have been developed. I hope that Moodle is not just creating like mad and wishing that contributors make good plugins... 

That is part of the reason I advocate creating a bombproof core, much smaller than the current core, and have available thoroughly tested mods and plugins that can be installed from within Moodle. If Moodle becomes easier to self host, then I suggest it will become a much more accepted product. 

 
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Picture of Peter Seaman
Re: pros and cons of automated testing
 

I agree with everything you say, Tim. I suppose it's possible to build in all sorts of features and give people the choice about whether to use them or not. I'm mostly interested in the ways that design biases a user toward certain actions. I'm fascinated, for example, by these new "hands-free" computer apps being installed in cars, and the research showing how the attention given to these in-car devices is actually diverting the driver from the important task of being aware of what it OUTSIDE the car. But if these devices are being installed in cars, doesn't that bias most drivers toward their use? A driver can know, on some level, that she should really pay attention to the road and ignore the device, but I'd argue that having it almost guarantees it'll be used.

I would want Moodle's designers to apply that test - is this feature consistent with our view of how people learn? - before integrating support for the feature. But maybe they don't have that luxury - they have to "throw it all in" and then the user can pick the things s/he wants to use and ignore the rest. And of course the users of Moodle have a lot more choice about what to leave in and what to leave out thanks to the open nature of the application; users of commercial LMSs have less choice. Thanks. - Peter

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad
 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Moodle as a "massive improvement" over Blackboad
Particularly helpful Moodlers
Hi Peter

Re: https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=273744#p1178560

I am not the diplomat to give an effectful answer to that. I have expressed my concerns in plain text in many many posts here, mostly to deaf ears. If you are really keen, you can go through my posts. Here's a recent one, if you need one example: "Re: Help: Videos uploaded in folders are not playing" https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=273773#p1177682.

Just to be clear: I do not want to continue those discussions here. Of course you are welcome to contribute to the original discussions.

Side topic about your question on "History of the Moodle forum" https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=268669 : Sorry to hear that you are disappointed in the answers you got. I tried my best to explain there that, in my eyes, the subject is fundamental and trivial like asking "Why people talk?".
 
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