Personally I am a Moodle advocate in my school and I love it.
However I have to admit that Moodle was hard to use at the beginning and is getting more difficult to use for non-IT people.
In my school there are some teachers just don't want to touch Moodle because it is too hard to use for them. I love seeing new functions and modules added to Moodle, but at the same time I want to see improvements on Moodle usability for teachers as well.
New features of grades in Moodle 1.9 is better and more complex, but it will put off some of my colleagues to use, even it is a great benefit for our school.
Is there any committee in Moodle.org to monitor this issue?
I think it is crucial.
I work with teachers, some of whom are much like your colleagues - receptive to good ideas but a bit turned off by the amount of (perceived) knowledge and skill required to learn Moodle.
My advice to any person responsible for supporting staff in such a situation - small steps with these staff. Keep it simple. Uploading files, forums and assignments are a great starting point for new Moodlers. These activities are easy-to-use and instantly add value to the learning experience.
Ideally, schools need to invest time to (re)train teachers to blend technology tools such as Moodle with their current teaching practice. Teachers need time to learn new skills and redesign curriculum, before effective implementation can occur in a learning context.
Think back of the time when the overhead projector first appeared in schools: it didn't take teachers weeks of lectures and training before they learned how to use it! It was simple, intuitive and powerful. Same thing with wonderful tools like MS PowerPoint and the rest of the Office suite: powerful, intuitive, user-friendly, no need for training... A paradise for teachers!
For teachers who are most familiar with traditional teaching tools such as whiteboards and textbooks, new technology such as Moodle requires not just new skills but a new 'school of thought'. Concepts such as social constructivism, student-centred learning, web-based communication and collaboration - represent a paradigm shift for many teachers.
To be fair, the training required to learn how to use an overhead projector (or even M$ PowerPoint!) doesn't deserve comparison to the time required to become an effective Moodler. On the same token, none of benefits of OHPs or .ppt are worthy of comparison to Moodle's potential impact on learning.
"Teachers shouldn't have to spend any time or effort learning new ways of teaching! If the system is well designed, they should be able to just look at it and instantly know what to do and how to use it..."
Wow...are you the same Nicolas who posted this?...
I absolutely agree with your position. I believe what you have pointed out is such a fundamental issue that needs to be seriously considered by developers of e-learning platforms such as Moodle.
We are soon releasing results of a comparative study carried out among 5 open source systems (Moodle, Claroline, ATutor, Sakai and ILIAS) and one of the important findings is that administrators tend to assess qualitative features of their systems significantly better than teachers or students. All systems we have studied are until now not transparent enough for their final users; as reflected in following coments:
"There are too many options/channels to perform the same function, leading novices to wonder if they are, in fact, performing the same or different functions, or why one would choose one channel over another"
"The lack of ability to reorganize the tools to meet my teaching and learning objectives prohibits the smooth functioning of my class, leading students and faculty to waste time learning the location of tools rather than in using the tools"
This is perhaps an indicator that a lot of effort is being put into the production of technically efficient software, but the same is not so evident when it comes to straightening the learning curve of final users (students and teachers) that are ultimately the ones who will define the capacity of the system to function as learning facilitator.
The comments you included above contain some very useful insight that developers need to understand.
Years ago when I was first looking for an open source LMS, I evaluated several systems. I quickly narrowed my selection down to Moodle and ATutor and then Moodle won-out based primarily on two criteria...ease of use, and course layout.
Moodle still has the nice course layout that many people like, but that is rapidly being overshadowed by the tremendous increase in complexity over the past couple of years. If I were to do a comparison again today, I'm not sure Moodle would win. I only continue to use it because I learned it long ago so my learning curve for new versions is not nearly as steep as a new user looking at Moodle for the first time now.
We are in the process of Piloting Moodle at my college and I've just received the first responses from professors in the pilot. Their biggest concern, by far, is the complexity. Years ago I taught Moodle to literally hundreds of teachers and they loved it precisely because it was so inutitive and easy to learn. I no longer teach Moodle to the masses, but the feedback from the pilot at my college has reinforced what I believe...Moodle is no longer intuitive and easy to learn for the average user....and when I say average user, I mean typical teacher who wants to use technology to "support" their teaching and doesn't want "technology" to distract from their teaching.
Moodle still has the "layout" going for it, but it has lost its most important advantage--ease-of-use....and that's a tough thing to get back once lost...and it's even tougher to get back when developers don't even realize its been lost.
Totally agree. Such a complex product that is used by so many people with such a variety of purposes is very hard to adjust. A question on this regard: does the development of Moodle involve experimental research with teachers and students or is it based on the feedback provided by users in these forums? Or both perhaps?
See the general processes here: http://docs.moodle.org/en/Development:Overview
I think developers respond best when someone makes positive suggestions and demonstrates a willingness to explain/expand/develop the idea and actively seek real community support and consensus for it.
It's not always easy, because there are often differences of opinion at almost every level (usability being just one factor people disagree on).
This will hopefully give a seamless experience for tutors as they will only need to learn one 'Solent' way of navigating and working online. This goes hand in hand with more functionality/access to other systems being integrated either into our moodle build or our portel or exposed as portlets.
For the end users this gives the impression of a single system (beneath which the graceful swan is paddling very hard and the scotch tape and string are straining to hold the whole lot together)
There has definitely been some prior discussion on this:
Moodle Lite: http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=82707
Customize Interface: http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=6255 (this one is from 2004)
A Light-weight moodle: http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=19491
There are advanced options in the gradebook, and the user profile (although not implemented the same way).
It seems like I remember that Ger said he changed the language files or something to provide ratings on the different types of resources so that the most commonly used ones had a 1 or 2 next to them, indicating that the teachers might focus on them rather than the less common. I couldn't find that particular post!
I think that it ought to be mathematically possible to determine what features people use most and make sure those are default and what features are seldom used or contingent upon another feature, and set those up as advanced. Then you leave the admin the option to further tweak for his or her own staff. Those all seem steps in the right direction.
It seems like the perfect blend of: being able to limit the confusing (and space consuming) clutter, still being able to get to everything one wants to be able to influence.
I don't know if atw's suggestion of mathematically determining what is most commonly used is possible, but I do believe it would be a good thing for various forums to take up and perhaps follow up with a poll/vote.
I think it would be good to "hide" a great portion (most?) of our "darlings" in the default (=Moodle as shipped) "advanced group" to reduce the "choice chock" that most teachers experience when entering
**#¤\ Moodle Wonderland /¤#**.
(They will only have themselves to blame if they click [Advanced] )
I'm just wondering now if users, other than the administrator, might have some control over what is counted as advanced or default.
Maybe a course developer role could have a similar interface in his course. For example, teachers in a programming course would probably be less intimidated by the choices than teachers in some other courses.
Maybe a "hardcore Moodler" could have the possibility, in his/her profile, to check
[_] open advanced options directly
just like we can turn off the "HTML editor" if we have some code that gets crunched when opening it in the editor.
And maybe I'm asking too much
Yes, that's exactly what I would want to have; I don't like the idea of an admin taking decisions for me (or for anyone else).
Joseph (an advanced hardcore Moodler, even if I say so myself).
Actually, regardless whether they are many already or not yet, it might be a good time to write some guidelines and recommendations for implementing those, so they are done more uniformly.
And I agree about uniformity and guidelines. Excellent point!
Very true...over the past couple of years there seems to be a major disconnect between Moodle development and the needs/experiences of Moodle users. Moodle reached it's peak in popularity and adoption due mainly to its simplicity and usability. With other big names getting into the game now, Moodle had better take a real hard look at where it wants to go in the future (and had better see the value to involving teachers who use this in the real-world in that look)...if not, the next five years are not going to be nearly as good as the last five.
As I became the Moodle administrator at the school I worked for and responsible for helping users to learn to use Moodle effectively, I made various customizations to the system. For those customizations that I thought would be of benefit to other Moodlers, I added an issue in the tracker and I know that the list of customizations for the school is now very few as those suggestions were incorporated into the Moodle code. I would encourage folks to be patient as the process of going from a suggestion to actually implementing it can take some time. If an issue in the tracker gets a lot of votes, that does get the attention of the Moodle developers. As Martin says, there is always room for further improvements and discussing how we can work together as a community to get the best of both worlds (functionality and ease of use) is an important challenge and precisely what these forums are intended to help us do. Peace - Anthony
Moodle is the number 1 opensource CMS/LMS in the world today
The key word in that statement is "today" If Moodle continues trying to be "all things to all people", you may not be able to make that statement "tomorrow".
And...on a "fine point" Moodle is far from being the #1 open source CMS...not even close in that arena.