Online Teaching With Moodle

By: Dr. Dawn-elise Snipes

Moodle: An Online Teacher's Dream

We have run into some challenges as more and more universities and high schools move to e-learning and more parents start home schooling. First, cost. The traditional e-learning platforms are expensive. Secondly, usability. Other platforms I have used have been cumbersome, awkward, and quite frankly confusing for many of my students (and I teach graduate school). Additionally, many people who are currently teaching either are resistant to embracing online learning, or have used the other platforms and gotten frustrated. Moodle is a 'What You See Is What You Get-WYSIWYG) sort of program...It is intuitive, point and click.

Last year, I started developing an online master's program for the University of Florida's Department of Counselor Education. After wrangling with other popular online teaching programs, we came across Moodle. It was a dream come true (especially for my Department Chair because it was free). For those of you old enough to remember, going from WebCT/Blackboard to Moodle was like going from using DOS (remember the black screen where you had to type cd/ all the time) to Windows. I was thrilled!

Moodle is GPL (General Public License). That means you can download it for free-forever. Within each lesson you can link to specific websites (like Online, Full Text Children's Textbooks), .pdfs or Word documents. This lets your students/children go exactly where you want them to go. You have a built-in grade-book and can add auto-scored quizzes (set them up by filling in a pre-designed form), writing assignments, forum posts, wikis (i.e. wikipedia.com) etc. I have yet to find something you cannot do with Moodle. There is even a plug-in so you can build virtual chemical elements and one that you can use to create podcasts, rss feeds and more!!! Get the feeling I am excited...

You can even have it customized for a reasonable price (including free if you do it yourself---it is not that hard) see Theme Gurus). I liked Moodle so much I even had Theme Gurus design my business website---logo, paypal integration and all. Himmat Singh and his associates from ThemeGurus provided unparalleled customer service and personal attention (and a really reasonable price) while customizing my site -see (like My Site)

If your school district is thinking about going to e-learning and you want to really make it easy for your faculty and students, Moodle is the way to go. It has the three things I look for in a program---free, easy and customizable-oh, and it really is stable.

As a side note for home school parents: About a year ago we decided to start home schooling our children. My son is quite gifted in math and science and our particular district had no advanced programs for first graders. He was bored, miserable and his love for learning was getting squashed like a bug. If you are home schooling and want to really keep your kids on-track, Moodle is the way to go. It has the three things I look for in a program---free, easy and customizable.

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