My presentation today at the NJEDge.Net Faculty Best Practices Showcase is titled "Moodle: A Free Learning Management System (Free - like free kittens)"
The title is playing off the idea that free software isn't really free - unless you don't have the accountants put anything on the books for the support and implementation of an open source project. Open source is all about support and community.
Like other universities, NJIT feels that it is in our best interest to explore some of the available open source course management systems that are alternatives to commercial products such as WebCT.
The instructional technology team at NJIT first began to look at Moodle (and initially Sakai) during the fall 2005 semester and looked at pilot programs at other schools. Seventeen NJIT faculty ran test courses during the spring and summer of 2006. A formal pilot program using Moodle was instituted this past fall with 24 courses. Participants included current users of WebCT and faculty who were new to using any type of learning management system and for online courses and face-to-face or hybrid courses. This semester we have 12 courses running, and 20 courses and organization sites in development.
My PowerPoint from today is viewable online at my Slideshare site.
What interested me about Moodle back in 2005?
- that it was an open source LMS/CMS software
- how it might be used in eLearning
- whether it might be a viable alternative to a commercial product and if it actually is such alternative
- how hard would it be to move courses & faculty over to it from WebCT.
- the constructivist philosophy behind it and in the creation of the software.
From the Moodle.org site:
[Constructivism] maintains that people actively construct new knowledge as they interact with their environment.
Everything you read, see, hear, feel, and touch is tested against your prior knowledge and if it is viable within your mental world, may form new knowledge you carry with you. Knowledge is strengthened if you can use it successfully in your wider environment. You are not just a memory bank passively absorbing information, nor can knowledge be "transmitted" to you just by reading something or listening to someone.
This is not to say you can't learn anything from reading a web page or watching a lecture, obviously you can, it's just pointing out that there is more interpretation going on than a transfer of information from one brain to another.
Some colleges using Moodle to check out:
- Lycoming College dropped WebCT in July 2006 for Moodle.
- UCLA - including this physics department site under development and this Knowledge Base site with help files. I've read several articles about UCLA & UC San Diego using Moodle as their campus CMS, but I haven't come across a full implementation of it.
- Humboldt State has a nice site for learning to use Moodle that was put up this spring.
- University of Minnesota
- Eastern Kentucky University is using Moodle for ePortfolios in educational leadership.
- Smith College moved from Blackboard to Moodle. They also have some good help & tutorials.
- University of Washington at Tacoma
- Amherst has a PowerPoint presentation online of their students' responses to Moodle that was part of a NERCOMP Moodle event during January 2007.
- University of Florida's College of Education
- Antioch College
- St. Olaf College
- SUNY - Oneonta
Moodle seems like a great fit for K-12 districts with limited budgets and IT staffs, but a desire to use an online learning environment (probably NOT for fully online courses as much as "web enhanced" or blended courses).
I'm impressed that the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia (a new high school developed in partnership with The Franklin Institute) uses an inquiry-based science, technology, mathematics and (you don't see this in too many high schools) entrepreneurship curriculum. So they are using a lot of project-based learning, inquiry, research, and collaboration - and this is their Moodle site.
I'd be interested to read your comments on Moodle and share links to other schools (K-20) using Moodle.