Before I describe my first experience using Moodle to create an online lesson, there’s something I should confess right from the start. I day dream about designing an outstanding Learning Management System daily. I dream about designing space and tools that helps teachers meet the overwhelming requirements of their work and a space that truly invites students to be engaged in their learning. So I’ve had my eye on Moodle and many other LMS’s for some time. Like men who get giddy looking under the hood of a car, I’m eager at any opportunity to see how an LMS functions. This assignment was my first chance to play in the Moodle Sandbox and I loved every minute of it! Geek. I know.
For my lesson, I started by watching some of the tutorials, but then I headed off for some exploration and to do some clicking around. The navigation and menus are standard enough, so no real learning curve there. The tools for designing the lesson were abundant. There were twenty-six options for adding activities including chats, wikis, forums many of which I was surprised to see and had never experienced as an online learner. There were another nine options for uploading resources including books, files, and labels. I had always wondered what beast of a program could be created with an open source concept and now this was a great view into one of the most well known open source projects to date.
My first overall impression of Moodle was that it was designed by programmers. I don’t know many programmers, but the focus seems to be on the backend rather than the user interface. It seems overly complicated. For example, there are options like setting up a Personal Learning Designer, renaming the roles of participants, and forcing filters on different features. Some of these fields feel tacked on, like they were added for a specific project. But then in an open source project like Moodle, I guess that’s exactly how it’s supposed to go. Unfortunately, this makes the user interface is a little overwhelming for a teacher with moderate to low technical skills. Case in point, my school district set up a Moodle account but no one in the district warmed-up to it so it’s still sitting there in the box, virtually unused. That said, I found the experience of taking it for a test drive boarded on fun. And that’s enough for me.