Wednesday, May 10, 2006

One Week with Moodle

Last week I facilitated an online discussion series with about 15 educators from the U.S., Canada, and Taiwan. The forum was conducted using Moodle (open source IMS) as part of the UW-Madison Distance Education Certificate Program.

Here are a few observations about my one week experience with Moodle. One thing that I must use as a qualifier is that we were not using, nor did we have access to, all of the tools in Moodle. I also did not have access to the administrative side of Moodle so I can't be sure of what some of the other options/settings might be.

Moodle does not have a "fancy" interface at all. Very few graphics (again, maybe it can be customized with more graphics) and very much text based. D2L can be made very visually appealling (caveat: all that eye of the beholder stuff) while Moodle was clearly built to be clean, efficient, and accessible.

Moodle has a built-in wiki. I love wikis and use them all the time. The Moodle wiki is not as nice as most of the stand-alone wiki products that I have used (and I've used many of them), but it is functional. We didn't use the wiki to its best advantage in this application since we really weren't doing any kind of collaborative writing or publishing, but the participants got an idea of how a wiki can be edited by various people and used to display various kinds of webby things.

Moodle has a personal journal space which I did not use. However, it appears to be very similar to the Journal tool in D2L, just not as fancy-looking.

We didn't have the opportunity to use/view most of the other tools. No quizzes, no dropbox, no gradebook, etc. From what I was able to see, Moodle appears to on the fast track to being a viable IMS replacement for schools and systems using Blackboard/WebCT, D2L, Angel, etc. The progress they have made in the past 2-3 years is truly amazing. Now if I could just find the time to get a good look at Sakai (also open source).

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