Moodle

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Moodle
File:Moodle logo.png
File:Moodle 1.3 sample course screengrab.png
Moodle course screenshot with Firefox
Developer(s) Martin Dougiamas
Stable release 1.9.7 / November 25, 2009; 133373625 ago [1]
Written in PHP
Operating system Cross-platform
Type Course Management System
License GPLv2+[2]
Website moodle.org


Moodle: Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment is a free and open-source e-learning software platform, also known as a Course Management System, Learning Management System, or Virtual Learning Environment. It has a significant user base with 45,721 registered and verified sites, containing 32 million users in 3 million courses (as of January, 2010).[3]

Moodle is designed to help educators create online courses with a focus on interaction and collaborative construction of content.

Moodle is primarily developed by Moodle Pty Ltd (based in Perth, Western Australia), supported by a large global community of users and developers. Moodle's open source license and modular design allow any developer to create additional modules and features.

Contents

Features

Moodle has many features expected from an e-learning platform, plus some original innovations (like its filtering system). Moodle is very similar to a learning management system, but it has many more standard features. Moodle can be used in many types of environments such as in education, training and development, and business settings.

Moodle is modular in construction and can readily be extended by creating plugins for specific new functionality. Moodle's infrastructure supports many types of plug-ins:

  • Activities (including word and math games)
  • Resource types
  • Question types (multiple choice, true and false, fill in the blank, etc)
  • Data field types (for the database activity)
  • Graphical themes
  • Authentication methods (can require username and password accessibility)
  • Enrollment methods
  • Content Filters

Many third-party Moodle plugins are freely available making use of this infrastructure.[4]

PHP can be used to author and contribute new modules. Moodle's development has been assisted by the work of open source programmers.[5] This has contributed towards its rapid development and rapid bug fixes.

By default Moodle includes the TCPDF library that allows the generation of PDF documents from pages.

Deployment

Moodle can be installed from source, but this requires more technical proficiency than other automated approaches such as installing from a Debian package, deploying a ready-to-use TurnKey Moodle appliance[6] or using the Bitnami installer.

There are some free Moodle hosting providers, which allow educators to create Moodle-based online class without installation or server knowledge. There are some paid Moodle hosting providers which provide value added services like customization and content development.

Interoperability

Moodle runs without modification on Unix, Linux, FreeBSD, Windows, Mac OS X, NetWare and any other systems that support PHP and a database, including most webhost providers.

Data is stored in a single database: Moodle version 1.6 could use MySQL or PostgreSQL. Version 1.7, released November 2006, makes full use of database abstraction so that installers can choose from one of many types of database servers (Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server are two specific target DBMSes).

There are many dimensions to interoperability for e-learning systems. Moodle's interoperability features include:

  • Authentication, using LDAP, Shibboleth, or various other standard methods (e.g. IMAP)
  • Enrollment, using IMS Enterprise among other standard methods, or by direct interaction with an external database
  • Quizzes and quiz questions, allowing import/export in a number of formats: GIFT (moodle's own format), IMS QTI, XML and XHTML (NB although export works very well, import is currently not complete). Moodle provides various types of questions - Calculated, Description, Essay, Matching, Embedded Answers, Multiple Choice, Short Answer, Numerical, Random Short-Answer Matching, True/False.
  • Resources, using IMS Content Packaging, SCORM, AICC (CBT), LAMS
  • Integration with other Content Management Systems such as Postnuke (via third-party extensions)
  • Syndication, using RSS or Atom newsfeeds - external newsfeeds can be displayed in a course, and forums, blogs, and other features can be made available to others as newsfeeds.

Moodle also has import features for use with other specific systems, such as importing quizzes or entire courses from Blackboard or WebCT.

Background

Origins

"I'm committed to continuing my work on Moodle and on keeping it Open and Free. I have a deeply-held belief in the importance of unrestricted education and empowered teaching, and Moodle is the main way I can contribute to the realisation of these ideals".- Martin Dougiamas[7]

Moodle was created by Martin Dougiamas, a WebCT administrator at Curtin University, Australia, who has graduate degrees in Computer Science and Education. Dougiamas started a Ph.D. to examine "The use of Open Source software to support a social constructionist epistemology of teaching and learning within Internet-based communities of reflective inquiry". Although how exactly social constructivism makes Moodle different from other eLearning platforms is difficult to show, it has been cited as an important factor by Moodle adopters [8][9]. Other Moodle adopters, such as the Open University in the UK, have pointed out that Learning Management Systems can equally be seen as "relatively pedagogy-neutral"[10].

The wiki part of the software was forked from ErfurtWiki.[11]

Pedagogical approach

The stated philosophy of Moodle [12] includes a constructivist and social constructionist approach to education, emphasizing that learners (and not just teachers) can contribute to the educational experience. Moodle's design optionally allows students to comment on content (or to contribute content themselves), or to work collaboratively in a wiki.

Moodle does not necessitate a constructivist teaching approach. Constructivism is sometimes seen as at odds with accountability-focused ideas about education, such as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in the United States[citation needed] . Accountability stresses tested outcomes, not teaching techniques, or pedagogy. Moodle supports an outcomes-oriented learning environment.[citation needed]

Origin of the name

The word Moodle is actually an acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment, although originally the M stood for "Martin's", named after Martin Dougiamas, the original developer.[13]

Moodle can also be considered a verb, which describes the improvisational process of doing things as it occurs to you to do them, an enjoyable tinkering that often leads to insight and creativity. As such it applies both to the way Moodle was developed, and to the way a student or teacher might approach studying or teaching an online course.

"Moodle" is a protected trademark. Only Moodle partners get the right to use the trademark to market their services like Moodle Hosting, Moodle Customization etc.

Moodle statistics and market share

  • Moodle has a significant user base with 46,624 registered sites with 32,464,992 users in 3,161,291 courses in 209 countries and more than 75 languages are supported (as of January 9, 2010).[14]
  • The site with the most users is moodle.org with 63 courses and 838,109 users. Following a £5 million investment in 2005, The Open University, UK is the second largest Moodle deployment by user-base, with 607,536 users and 4,731 courses. A comprehensive list of the top ten Moodle sites (by courses and by users) is maintained at moodle.org.[15]

Development

Moodle has been evolving since 1999 (since 2001 with the current architecture). The current version is 1.9.7, which was released in November 2009. It has been translated into 80 different languages. Major improvements in accessibility and display flexibility were developed in 1.5. Currently, the work is going on to release Moodle 2.0.

As there are no license fees or limits to growth, an institution can add as many Moodle servers as needed. The Open University of the UK is currently building a Moodle installation for their 200,000 users.[18] It is often known for individual departments of institutions to use the unlimited feature, such as the maths department of the University of York.

The development of Moodle continues as a free software project supported by a team of programmers and an international user community, drawing upon contributions posted to the online Moodle Community website that encourages debate and invites criticism.

Users are free to distribute and modify the software under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2 or any later version.[2]

Similar platforms

See also

References

External links

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