Moodle is an LMS that has been around for what seems like ages. It’s a known and trusted LMS by many schools, universities and corporations. Created by Martin Dougiamas and first available for download in 20011)https://docs.moodle.org/33/en/History, it has been the education industry’s go-to for delivering online education in modular form. I personally have experience working with Moodle developing plugins and creating courses both for CNM‘s department of distance learning as an intern (back when it was known as TVI), and also for NMT‘s management department assisting in a senior project.
Nowadays it seems like we’re in the age of modern LMS’s with it being incredibly simple to start an online course or even put class content online. I’ve tried out many of these – Google Classroom, Edmodo and Schoology, just to name a few of the more popular ones – and have been most pleased with what I’ve seen. Most of them are incredibly flexible, easy to setup courses and student-user friendly. Many of them are even robust in creating and delivering modularized course content.
However, here’s the point of contention. After all this, I still say that Moodle is the best. Here are ten reasons why.
By far this is my favorite thing about Moodle. It has capabilities and features the other guys only dream about. Controlling open enrollment or using codes, adding badges after certain assignments are completed, adding competency based assessing (with evidence), using portfolios and blogs, and completely customizing the look and feel of course content are some of my favorite uses of the product.
Own the data
I think this is one of the most overlooked features of LMS today. When you install Moodle, it sits on your servers and you own the data in it. Student info, course content, etc. — you don’t have to worry about whether or not other companies have access to sensitive information.
Multiple activity types
Moodle certainly blows the other guys out of the water when it comes to what assignment types are offered. Here’s a screenshot of the ‘Add an activity’ menu that pops up within Moodle. I’ll let it speak for itself.
This one is a bit more complicated and requires a customized setup. However, once activated, parents can navigate the course and see their son or daughter’s progress any time. This makes for rolling reporting to be easier than ever.
As we’re moving out of the age of grades and into personalized learning, the course can be setup to require mastery of a certain activity or topic before moving to the next one. Phew! So glad that I don’t have to manage that myself.
As mentioned above, badges can be added and can be automatically awarded upon completion of certain activities, topics or courses. Badges can be shared between courses and can drive learning in a whole new way. It also makes it very easy to game-ify your classroom experience.
This is the one that I feel the other guys are severely lacking. Moodle provides a view where assignments are listed and can be ‘checked off’ when completed — either by achieving a certain grade or level or manually by the student. Either way, students can clearly see where they are on a certain topic and what they still have yet to complete.
Customization with integrations and plugins
If you want to go further down the rabit hole, you can get into plugins to extend Moodle in ways you never thought possible. I like to set it up so that students log in using their School Gmail Account that way I don’t have the responsibility of managing student passwords. It’s also protected under the school’s ICT policy (and may be for yours as well). In addition, there are literally thousands of plugins that have been created to customize Moodle in the way that works best for you.
There are, of course, many drawbacks to using Moodle, especially for the less tech-savvy teachers out there. For example, installation is a royal pain in the neck and requires a server administrator who really knows what they’re doing. MoodleCloud is an alternative (with a fee) to this drawback.
Moodle can be a beast. I would be happy to assist anyone who would like some help. I even have my own Moodle server in which I would be happy to rent out some space if anyone would like a quick classroom setup.
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