Moodle is a popular virtual learning environment (VLE) that’s used in many universities in the UK and abroad. Moodle is not only a great VLE but it’s free, open-source software. I’ve been using Moodle for over four years as a teacher and administrator. When the AuthorAID team at INASP was considering e-learning last year, I made a case for using Moodle because it has many features for creating an active learning experience. That decision paid off: the pilot e-learning course that we conducted was successful, with about 90% of the learners completing the course and giving very positive feedback. The 28 learners were early career researchers at the National University of Rwanda, and they took the course over a period of 6 to 8 weeks towards the end of last year.
I spoke about the pilot course at the recent Moodlemoot Ireland & UK conference in Dublin. Moodlemoots are conferences organised in different countries, and they attract teachers, developers and administrators who talk about their “Moodling” experiences.
On the pre-conference day, I attended a day-long workshop on how to create engaging courses on Moodle. There are 14 types of activities (or modules) in the latest version of Moodle, all of which can be used to create interactivity in courses. These activities are not about making learners do things like clicking here and there to see something, which is unfortunately the meaning of interactivity in a lot of e-learning content. A list of activities with short descriptions is available online. So far I’ve used about half of these activities, and I’ve seen how much value they add to online courses. I’m keen to try out the “workshop” activity, which can be used for peer assessment.
The conference started with a keynote over Skype by the founder of Moodle, Martin Dougiamas, who also runs the Moodle company in Australia. Martin has a large presence in the Moodle community, whose lifeblood is the numerous forums on moodle.org. If I have a question about how to do something on Moodle and it’s not already covered in the extensive documentation (such as in the link given above), I turn to the forums and I almost always find something that helps me. Once, when I was struggling to build a “database” activity, I found that some other people had written about similar problems on a forum, and there was an elegant solution from Martin himself!