W Malemnganba Chenglei
Moodle is one of the world’s leading learning management systems. A learning management system (LMS) is a software based platform that facilitates the management and delivery of educational content, measurement of educational outcome, collection of student data, registration of students etc. and provides a suitable learning environment for students. Some LMSs are open source, that is- it is a software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify or enhance while some other LMSs are not. Moodle is at the top among open source LMSs and it is entirely free of charge.
History of Moodle-Moodle stands for modular object-oriented dynamic learning environment. Moodle was originally developed by Martin Dougiamas in 2002 to help educators create online courses for interaction and collaborative construction of educational content. Martin Dougiamas, born in 1969, lived in the desert of Western Australia for some years in the early 1970s and studied through materials delivered by aeroplanes. His unusual childhood experience prepared him to create an internet-based learning platform. He has post graduate degrees in computer science and education. In 1999 he began creating Moodle for his PhD research at Curtin University. Martin released version 1.0 of Moodle as an open source system to the world in August 2002. Within months Moodle was being used around the world.
Moodle usage in the world-In 2015, Moodle became the world’s most popular LMS with over 80 million users worldwide. By 2016 Moodle users have crossed the 100 million mark. Now it has 126 million users and 15 million courses. At present, the Moodle project is led and coordinated by Moodle HQ, an Australian company supported by an international community of dedicated full-time developers, and a web of certified Moodle Partners. Moodle has continued to evolve since 1999 and it has been translated into over 100 different languages and in many countries. It has 94,212 registered sites in 230 countries. Some world class universities and institutions which use Moodle are London School of Economics (where the author of this article was a student for two years), Cambridge University, Edinburgh University, Glasgow University, University of Wisconsin, Madison, University of Idaho, University of California, Irvine etc. The UK government uses a Moodle for their Civil Service Learning platform serving half a million employees. India has 2200 registered sites and some of the institutions are IIT Madras, IIT Bombay, IIT Roorkee, IIT Tirupati, IIT Ropar, VIT Chennai, St. Xavier’s college, IIIT Delhi, IIIT Bangalore etc. Manipur Technical University which was established in 2016 is also using Moodle in delivery of educational information and content to the students.
About Moodle-Moodle is extremely customisable and is very easy to use. The Moodle interface is easy to navigate on both desktop and mobile devices. It has a personalised dashboard which organises and displays the courses, current tasks and messages. A plethora of collaborative tools and activities are there such as work and learn together in forums, wikis, glossaries, database activities etc. Moodle has an academic calendar which helps the student keep track of their academic calendar, course deadlines, group meetings, and other personal events. Dragging and dropping files from cloud storage services including MS OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive is extremely easy. This software can conveniently add media and images with an editor that works across all web browsers and devices. Users can receive automatic alerts on new assignments and deadlines, forum posts and also send private messages to one another. Moodle has features of tracking progress and completion of tasks with an array of options for tracking individual activities or resources and course level. Moodle also enables the user to easily search and insert video and audio files in the courses. For example, if a teachers finds a particular video in youtube useful for a course, he may insert it in Moodle. He may also take video lectures (or the Institution may take video lectures) and upload it. Past question papers may also be inserted; research papers, articles may also be made available. Rather than focusing on file management, the software concentrates on course design and gives trainers, teachers, and lecturers numerous options for adding interactive elements to their courses, including homework assignments and class-tests. In the hands of an expert teacher, Moodle is a powerful medium with which he can create wonderfully rich and exciting teaching and learning environments. For proper use of Moodle, the people who are implementing Moodle at a particular institution need to understand what they need and customising Moodle by removing options, adding plugins and designing the interface to make it the optimal tool. It should be well-integrated with the other systems around it. Since it is relatively new to both teachers and students, stiff resistance may be expected from teachers and students. Making lecture slides, uploading in Moodle, uploading assignments, taking tests, searching for relevant educational videos etc may all be new for a teacher who was trained in the traditional educational methods. This requires the teachers to pre plan the lecture materials in advance- typing the lecture notes, making figures, charts, equations, symbols etc. Even students may be reluctant to use the lecture slides or use assignments uploaded in Moodle just because they were not used to using this method of imparting education. They may be more familiar to the system of a teacher dictating class notes. But the old methods of teaching must give way to newer methods of teaching-learning system by integrating technology in education to facilitate learning and improve performance. Examples of integrating technology in classrooms could be use of computers, mobiles, smart class rooms, internet, video capture etc. Moodle is one such method and use of Moodle in teaching requires that computers, smart classrooms and internet are already available in the classroom and students have access to smartphone/computers and the internet. The inclusion, training and enculturing of the both educators and students who will be using Moodle is absolutely critical to success. [The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and are not necessarily the views of the University or the Government]
(The author is Registrar, Manipur Technical University)
W Malemnganba Chenglei