Village Earth Press Educational News
E-Learning, Part 1December 9, 2010, 9:48 am / Posted By: Bill Hunter
E-learning is a term that is tossed about these days, usually referring to any of a number of electronic course management systems available to educators. Many schools provide these tools to their teachers, and given a little time and elbow-grease, anyone can develop and deploy a very useful and educational website for their students to use and learn from. School curriculum programs can vary widely, but one thing is pretty much universal in schools: a desire for an increase in the use of technology. E-learning can be a great way to help achieve that particular goal. Let's take a look at one of the best E-learning solutions out there (in my humble opinion):
Moodle is hands-down my personal favorite. I've built and deployed a Moodle site for my high school science class, and I've found it to be incredibly flexible and easy to learn (for the most part). It has tons of features, which could be daunting to some educators, but there are also some fantastic tutorials out there that can really make things easier for site design and implementation. Here is a link to the Moodle community site, where literally hundreds of thousands of educators and web developers have registered, offering an impressive array of expertise and know-how to help the new user learn the software. Moodle is open source, meaning it is free, a definite boon to educators in this time of tight budgets. No need to pinch pennies here!
Why do I prefer Moodle over other solutions? Mainly it has to do with availability, but there are other reasons as well. I love the flexibility of the software, and the fact that it is open source means that community members can (and do) write plug-ins for it that can really expand the potential of it. In addition, it is incredibly easy to use and has a relatively small learning curve, something that any teacher just has to love (point me to one that likes to learn frustrating software; I dare you!). Moodle's administration pages are very user friendly, and setting up your courses is a breeze. “What's a course,” you ask? Well, you set one up for any group of students that you want to use your site. For me, that means one course for New York State Living Environment and one for Grade 7 Science. Once you've set up your courses and established the calendar within each, you can begin making activities for your students. This took me a grand total of about 15 minutes the very first time I used the software. No big deal there. The next thing you need to figure out is how to get your students registered. Moodle has a variety of options for this, but I opted for administrator-created student accounts. This works around the possible issue of students not having email addresses or not being able to access them from school (firewalls can be a pain, can't they?). Once you've gotten them all set up, you are in business. Let the learning begin!
This is the first part of a three-part article on e-learning. In Part 2, Bill Hunter discusses using Moodle in the classroom.
(photo courtesy of r-z (Flickr.com)