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'Moodle is a Learning management system (LMS) - a free, Open Source software package designed using sound pedagogical principles, to help educators create effective online learning communities'. It is distributed under the GNU General Public License and is an active and evolving work in progress, subject to a roadmap.Moodle can also be called a 'Virtual Learning Environment' (VLE) or 'Course Management System (LMS)'. It provides a range of functionality covering content creation and delivery, communication and collaboration and management, including tracking and assessment tools.

Here are some of the key 'building blocks' of Moodle:

  • Assignments - for managing homework including the ability for pupils to download/upload homework and
  • for teachers to mark it online
  • Resource links - to webpages and files to help teachers build topics or courses or units of work
  • Forums and chat for interactive discussion of ideas and concepts
  • Quizzes and choices
  • Questionnaire
  • Wikis
  • Content - commercial content can be uploaded (SCORM packages)
  • Calendars
  • Comprehensive monitoring of all activity

How Moodles can be used in Schools?

Moodle offers a range of functionality designed around a core structure of a customizable homepage with learning activities organized into courses. Pupils are given login access to the Moodle and then enrolled on courses relevant to them. The homepage can be customized, using blocks to meet the needs of individual schools and a users view of the homepage is personal to the access rights given to them e.g. a pupil will see entries on the calendar personal to them or relevant to their courses whereas an administrator will see all events and courses. Each course can be designed to include resources and activities. Activities available in Moodle correspond to the modules included in the core Moodle code hosted by INFOBIZZ and each course can use any combination of activities and resources. Typical activities include: assignment, quizzes, hot potato questionnaire, forum, chat, messages, RSS feeds, Wiki or SCORM content. Typical resources include: files, links or html pages. Teachers can mark and review assignments, view and download answers and results, control timing of events, block and monitor access.

This section will look at how various functions of Moodle can be used in the school environment:

Forums

Forums are like online message boards. You can post a message and others can respond over the following hours, days or even months. There is also the option of including attachments with your post. Members can subscribe to forums - and teachers can force everyone to subscribe when setting up the forum. By subscribing to a forum, participants will receive email copies of each new posting, if they have an enabled email address. Forums are great for discussion both in and out of class. Some of the ways they have been used effectively are for school councils, prediction in literacy and discussion of whole school issues.

Assignments

Assignments allow teachers to put up tasks for pupils to complete. All assignment types have the facility for teachers to mark online and feed back to pupils with comments. There are three types of assignment: 1. Offline tasks where pupils complete a task away from the computer but it is set online and marks are recorded in the online mark book.2. Online submission where pupils use the built in text editor to submit their work.3. Upload assignments where pupils complete their work using any other package (Word, Excel, Dazzle, Textease, etc.) and submit it by browsing and uploading on Moodle.Assignments have been particularly useful for homework tasks and extended activities where more than one session is needed.

Questionnaires, Choice and Survey

These elements of Moodle all allow users to make a choice in one way or another and collate the information gathered. Questionnaire allows you to create your own questionnaire using certain question types such as tick boxes, drop down menus and text boxes. Some schools have explored using these to compile information and feedback for the SEF from both pupils and parents. Choice is a simple multiple choice which can be reviewed as a graph or other visual representation. These make quick starter activities for carrying out simple surveys.

Files and web pages

This resource allows the user to link to existing files or web pages. Any document types can be posted but your users will need the software to open them. These can provide background information for a topic or could direct pupils towards other online activities. Within a topic on Tudors, for example, there could be a series of suggested web pages about the monarch and the pupils have to use this to find out the names of Henry's wives. Or if you were looking at report writing the teacher could post an example of a good report for pupils to refer to.

Wikis

Wikis are editable web pages. There are several types of wiki available in Moodle, allowing pages to be seen and edited by everyone, some people or just the user and teacher. Using a standard text editor within Moodle you can add words and pictures and even create multiple pages linked together.Wikis are great for collaborative projects spread over time and logging of changes makes it easy for the teacher to see who has added what.

If you would like to see examples of how these features can be used, infoBizz has set up a Moodle to demonstrate these. Logins can be requested by contacting us. This example Moodle will show you the pupil
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