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Pointers & Clickers

Volume 6, Issue 3 - Moodling

By: Kevin Johnson, Michael Lindeman, & Virgil E. Varvel Jr.
Keywords: Moodle, Open-Source, Course Management System, Learning Management System, Virtual Learning Environment; Open Learning, Distance Education

What is Moodle?

Moodle <http://www.moodle.org/> (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is a course management system (CMS) - a software package used to create an online teaching and learning environemtn. It was initially designed and written by Martin Dougiamas of Perth, Western Australia. Mr Dougiamas has a background in technology, but is now combining his former career with his new one in education. As a part of this, he has developed Moodle, based on his knowledge about the nature of learning and collaboration. The word Moodle is an acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment, which is useful for programmers and education theorists. It's also a verb that describes the process of meandering through something, doing things as they occur to you, an enjoyable tinkering that often leads to insight and creativity. This process applies to the way Moodle was developed, and the way a student or teacher might approach studying or teaching an online course.
[See Edutools for a comprehensive overview of Course Management Systems, http://www.edutools.info/course/]
[See Wikipedia entry for Moodle, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moodle]

Moodle is Open Source software. Open source means that one is free to download, use, modify, and even (under GNU General Public License) distribute it. Such modifications are not necessary though. Many such modifications are freely available though, and new features are constantly being added and updated on this relatively new system. Moodle even currently has 50 language packs.
[For a comprehensive overview of what is meant by Open Source see http://moodle.org/course/view.php?id=30]

What are the philosophical underpinnings of Moodle?

Philosophically, Moodle has been programmed under a social constructionist philosophy. Interaction among participants is central to its design and purpose.
[See Doolittle, P. (1999). Constructivism and online education. Retrieved 31 March, 2005, from http://edpsychserver.ed.vt.edu/workshops/tohe1999/text/doo2.pdf]

How can I acquire and run Moodle?

The primary Moodle Website is http://www.moodle.org. On this site, you will be able to find all of the information that you need to know in order to download, install, and set up a Moodle server. As stated on their Website, "Moodle runs without modification on Unix, Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, Netware and any other system that supports PHP, including most webhost providers. Data is stored in a single database: MySQL and PostgreSQL are best supported, but it can also be used with Oracle, Access, Interbase, ODBC and others."

Using Moodle

Hopefully, the above has informed you of what Moodle is, and perhaps how to install a version of your own although that is not necessary for the rest of this article. We now turn to the issue at hand. How does one use Moodle, or as one might say, go Moodling. We will also provide some handy tips that we have learned from our experiences with Moodle.

Moodle Walkthrough

Virgil Varvel has created and updates periodically, this Moodle Walkthrough. The logging in sections and a few points interspersed throughout are specific to the Making the Virtual Classroom a Reality program, but many of the Moodle features can be learned by accessing the menu (lower link) on the Welcome screen of this Shockwave Flash presentation.

In addition to the Moodle Walkthrough presentation, we have several documents explaining key features within Moodle. Access these documents from the list below to finish your exploration of Moodle.