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Why Moodle Is a Popular Course Management System

by Jennifer Mackey
According to moodle.org, Moodle is a verb that describes the process of meandering through something, doing things as it occurs to you to do them, an enjoyable tinkering that often leads to insight and creativity.

It is also an acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment.

Moodle is a popular Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is designed to support a social constructionist framework of education, wherein groups collaboratively construct knowledge. It is used by nearly 50,000 websites in 212 countries. Moodle is a dynamic and interactive tool offering many benefits that other CMS’s cannot boast, as outlined below.

Open source
As an open source web application, Moodle is available for download completely free. This includes all updates, modules, plugins, themes, language packs, and logos. Although Moodle is copyrighted, any individual or entity has license to use, copy, or modify it as long as they agree to provide the source to others, not modify or remove the original license and copyrights, and apply this same license to any derivative work.

User friendly
It is reasonable to expect that any user with basic computer and Internet skills will be able to use Moodle.  The main page of a Moodle-based course functions like a website, with links to activities and resources. Provided that the course creator has given explicit directions for each activity or resource, users should have no difficulty navigating a Moodle-based course.

Versatile
Moodle can be used to deliver and create knowledge on any subject. There are a variety of activities and resources for course creators to choose from in designing a Moodle-based course. Resources include books, web pages, links to files or websites, and directories. Activities include assignments, chats, databases, forums, glossaries, lessons, workshops, questionnaires, quizzes, and wikis. A Moodle-based course can stand on its own or function as an add-on to an in-person course.

Accessible
Moodle can be harnessed to reach target groups, including persons with disabilities, those living in remote regions or who have transportation or child care issues, youth, and internationally-trained individuals. Users can access a Moodle-based course at any time of day provided they have access to a computer and an Internet connection. Any additional software or plugins required, such as Adobe Reader, are typically available for download free of charge.

Appealing to all learning styles

Moodle has plenty to offer to visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. For example, a lesson using flash cards would be particularly appealing to a visual learner, an auditory learner would benefit from an online chat using microphones, and kinesthetic learners would appreciate activities that require them to do something, as with a wiki. Moodle is also simultaneously appealing to both introverts and extraverts since the user is normally in control of when and how they interact within a Moodle-based course.

Jennifer Mackey is a resourceful, empowering, and personable career counsellor, training & development specialist, human resources generalist, and certified Moodle Course Creator. Her experience includes e-learning course development, facilitation, and assessment and testing. She will be delivering a presentation at Cannexus 2011 entitled “E-Learning Course Development Using Moodle” and can be contacted at jennifermackey@live.ca.

Jennifer Mackey

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