evaluating Moodle

I’ve spent a little bit of time evaluating a test installation of Moodle, the open-source course management tool. This tool is becoming quite popular at institutions similar to Illinois Wesleyan, but we still don’t know much about what it offers.

The basic idea is that a teacher will get to create a web space for each course, accessible only to students enrolled in the course. The web space can be structured in a number of formats. The most popular seem to be either “weekly” or “task-based”, which divide your course up either chronologically or topically. Here is a screenshot of a Moodle course homepage, from the teacher’s perspective:

a course page in Moodle

There is an overlap between the tools available in Moodle and those within the MyIWU course tools, such as news and calendars. On the other hand, there are some features that are quite nice. For each week or topic in my course I can create “activities” or “resources”. Here is a screenshot displaying available “activities”:

a course page in Moodle

 As you can see, the array of options is dizzying. I haven’t tried them all, but I did try adding a quiz. I had to first create a test bank of questions, then set up quiz options (how many points, can a student retest, etc). I plan on learning ways to import test banks from other formats soon. I also plan on asking some of my IT colleagues to try taking a quiz to test the usability from the student perspective.

Here is a screenshot of available “resources”:

a course page in Moodle

I created text pages and web pages using Moodle and was pleasantly surprised with the final product and the usability of the tool. It was fast and easy to create a simple document for students that included images. This would be an excellent way to deliver an online handout related to a reading assignment at a particular point in a semester.

Next time around I plan on trying a wiki and importing quizzes into Moodle!

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