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Moodle – to use or not to use?


I am thinking of using Moodle to introduce some e-learning courses as a compliment to some of our existing, tutored courses.

I am the Training Adviser at Norwood, a charity employing 1,200 staff across London and Berkshire. 600 Staff have access to computers and we would aim this learning at them. We would plan to publish soft skills and technical training. Due to constraints the content will be produced in-house.

Can anyone tell me if Moodle is intuitive. Are there wizards for help, and/or is it 'drag and drop'?

Is there any programming or development required to offer basic e-learning programmes to staff and to track their learning?

Is there anything else I need to be aware of at this early stage?
To find out more about Norwood:
Robert Parker

4 Responses

  1. A cautious endorsement
    Hi Robert,

    I’m not speaking from a position of great authority about the delelopment side, but I’m confident in saying that you won’t be striking out into a solitary wilderness if you take on Moodle.

    It’s the fastest growing LMS in the market and showed up in significant numbers in our Software Satisfaction Awards poll last year.

    While it did not make it on to the podium at the Awards, Moodle users gave very good feedback about it – particularly for value for money (3.85 out of 4). While still achieving a very good score of 3.65 for Ease of Use, Moodle’s cumulative rating was 3.75 – an extremely credible performance.

    If the Moodle sample continues to follow these growth and satisfaction trends, it is a very strong candidate for honours in this year’s Awards.

    Those are the statistics. While researching our article Getting to grips with the Moodle effect, I logged in and tried a free module from the Open University’s LearningSpace site. For a user the interface was a bit in your face (lots and lots of options), but not hard to navigate. I think configuring it might require some expertise (this applies to any LMS), but once it’s there it appears that you can pretty well stick any content you have into it.

    OU Moodle director of strategic development Joel Greenberg commented that students don’t care about the look, they want access to the content and reckoned Moodle has taken off “because it’s so simple to use”.

    Not a bad endorsement from someone who supports thousands of users. Kineo has a very useful introductory site and someone there might be able to advise you in more detail on the capability and configuration questions you’ve raised.

    Good luck with your explorations – and do come back to let us know which route Norwood decides to take.

    Best wishes
    John Stokdyk
    Technology editor

  2. Moodle is a great choice, you are in good company!
    Hi Robert,

    Moodle is a great choice for introducing e-learning in any organisation, as hundreds of thousands of public and private organisations worldwide will attest. Elearning Guild research in 2007 showed it had surpassed Sumtotal as the LMS of choice for Small and Medium Businesses with almost 25% of the market. So you will be in good company.

    We see it being used in four key areas
    – E-learning launching and tracking
    – Facilitating learning
    – Supporting classroom courses
    – Online performance support centres

    Regarding intuitiveness, Moodle out of the box is very plain and simple and not visually appealing, but this is because it is design with rebranding in mind. To this end, it is relatively straightfoward to rebrand the entire Moodle ‘theme’ with some basic CSS work. More advanced themes involving layour changes, flash menus and more can be achieved with a few days effort. We have amny samples we can show you, please contact me directly if you wish. It is a very large application and highly configurable so we would recommend buying a Moodle book to gudie yourself through it or going on a training course. We find that once users are up to speed they become big fans of Moodle. Indeed we have customers who were ‘sold’ Moodle by their new employees, who had used Moodle in college and expected something similar for workplace learning!

    Regarding developing learning programmes, it depends on what you want to do. I would always advise to create elearning outside Moodle using an authoring tool and import it into a Moodle course as a SCORM object, these means you can take advantage of SCORM reporting (who has started/completed/passed each module, and so on) and you would get something much more visually appealing to boot. But you can develop basic content in Moodle itself with no programming or development experience. But do think seriously about this – you learning needs to be engaging and well thought through if your learners are to get the best learning experience.

    Please do get in touch for more information. I am CEO of Kineo Open Source, we provide services for users of learning mgt systems such as Moodle. Our sister company Kineo does elearning development so we could advise you on both content and LMS matters.

    Good luck with your implementation! We have some resources on our site you may find useful:
    Open source learning management systems: a primer
    Managing open source procurement

    BTW I know Norwood well, I raise money for you on the annual Capital to Coast cycle ride through Surrey and Sussex 🙂

    Mark Aberdour
    Kineo Open Source

  3. Customising
    Hi Robert

    I’m not sure whether you’re asking whether Moodle is intuitive for those in the ‘teacher’ role or those in the ‘student’ role (these are the terms Moodle uses – it was originally designed for the education sector).

    Either way, much depends on how you customise it! I would suggest engaging a Moodle-savvy consultant to help and guide you through the early stages – asking all the right questions and getting you to think of issues and factors you hadn’t known needed consideration (I’m not one myself, but I can recommend someone). It will be a worthwhile investment, because the last thing you want is a white elephant. Free or not, it can damage the profile of elearning in your organisation.

    It would also be worth your while making sure you have someone in house who can be upskilled to deal with the techie side of things. The Moodle user community is enormously supportive and helpful, BUT if there’s no-one techie enough to understand the help being given, that’s useless, too!

    Moodle is best when used as a course management system. It is not really at its best for creating elearning modules. You should use another tool for that (I think Articulate comes free to charities and non-profits). You can keep just about anything you like within your Moodle (just like you can hang anything you like on your washline) – just make sure that it is SCORM-wrapped.

    HOWEVER… bear in mind that, if you’re going to be tracking all these users and harvesting all this data, the implication is that someone will be doing something with it. Your consultant person will help you identify exactly what it is you want to get out of tracking and help you set things up to achieve that goal.

    Sorry – long answer. If I can be of further help, or if you would like the name of a good consultant, please contact me on learninganorak at yahoo dot co dot uk.

  4. An addendum…
    Just to clarify…

    I didn’t mean to imply that SCORM wrapping is an essential thing to do. I only meant that it is necessary if you want Moodle to track usage. My own personal view is that we employ grown-ups so we shouldn’t have to peer over their shoulders to make sure they’re doing as they’re told. I only see a need for tracking where there are compliance issues and regulated industry requirements involved.

    Mind you, I am considered something of a maverick on the subject ;o)


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