Using Moodle to Extend the School Day

For several years, I’ve been intrigued with the potential of Moodle as an online instructional tool.

If you’re not familiar with it, Moodle is a Course Management System, also known as a Learning Management System. Some people even refer to it as a Virtual Learning Environment.

It is a free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites.

You can design an entire course, unit by unit, and lesson by lesson. This is, as you can imagine, a MASSIVE undertaking. A less time-consuming task, however, is to use one of its configurable modules.

A teacher here in Jacksonville is using the forum module that is available in Moodle.

Bert Harrell is dean of theology at Episcopal High School. After classes are over, the campus is closed and students return home where they are logging on to Moodle.

In an online forum, they discuss the meaning behind the very works or their personal thoughts after reading about first-century Judaism.

Similar to the way people comment on a Facebook post, students reply to each other, continuing a conversation that may have only been touched on in class.

All along, Mr. Harrell monitors the online conversations, which he requires students in his class to start and participate in.

He says that his goal has been to dissolve the time barrier of the 45-minute class period and also the space barrier.

My take on this is that it DOES sound like a great way to extend the school day and to provide an opportunity for extended learning.

The downside, however, is that even if you use an isolated Moodle module, you’re going to have your hands full.

A few summers ago, I was looking into the possibility of using Moodle to develop a course that would complement my efforts in the classroom. My thinking was that I could use my trusty digital projector to display contents of the class.

I downloaded Moodle and attempted to install it. I MUST say that THAT is a daunting task. There are a lot of instructions involving not only setting up the application, but also configuring it on a server so that it can be accessed by students.

I was determined, however.

After about a week or so, the struggle with the setup just simply overwhelmed me.

Because I haven’t looked at it for several years, it may be that things have improved in the meantime. If you’re up for a challenge and you’re technically inclined, Moodle may very well add to your instructional efforts.

Have you used Moodle? What are your thoughts here?

Coming Friday:  BuddyPress–An Easier Way to Set Up a Forum