I was following a thread on a forum today and this question was raised by a school that was “… looking at Moodle …”. The question alone rings alarm bells in my head because it demonstrates a lack of understanding not just about Moodle but online learning in general. In fact, it lacked any context – was the question for Moodle administrators, teachers, students, parents – who?
Moodle is installed in many schools in the UK and many Moodle implementations are unsuccessful without an understanding of its purpose or why it has been implemented so it’s time to understand the basics.
So, first step is to understand how your school will want to use a VLE. For example, is it about storing stuff or is it about enhancing teaching and learning? If it is about teaching and learning, then you’ll need to understand how Moodle will fit into the wider context of teaching and learning within the school.
Moodle in some ways is a ‘jack-of-all-trades’. I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense, what I mean is that it can be used very successfully in a wide variety of settings from primary schools in the UK to international schools, from higher education contexts to corporate training use. So, it is essential to understand how Moodle will fit into your school.
Then you can tailor Moodle and configure to fit. For example, many schools setup Moodle ‘out-of-the-box’ without thinking about the resource/activity types that will be available to teachers. By default the choice can be very confusing to most teachers confronted by Moodle for the first time so ask teachers which tools they want and pick carefully. You can always add tools as your Moodle evolves. Typically, to get started, all you need to make available are a few resource types such as web page, labels and links to files and in respect of activity types then just assignments and/or quizzes will be a good starting point.
Fundamentally, successful implementations are the result of on-boarding teachers through good training and professional development encompassing a pedagogical shift to include online learning and a culture within the school that embraces an additional approach to teaching and learning and a clear strategic plan supported and encouraged by the senior leadership team.
Done correctly, online learning is a powerful adjunct to current teaching and learning practice within the school opening huge opportunities to enhance student progress and attainment but there has to be a will.
Moodle is a powerful tool but you do need to know what you are going to use that tool for – it has to have a purpose. If it’s just added to your system without a context or purpose identified in teaching and learning, it will fail.
So, is it easy to use? Most tools are but it’s what you do with it that determines its success.