Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..
That is the Question.
The initial impression I have of Moodle is the visual design and content hierarchy is very different than Blackboard, and this is something that concerns me as far as retraining faculty to migrate from BB to Moodle. I can hear my faculty now: “Just when we feel comfortable teaching on BB now we have to learn a whole new online course management system. Uhgg!” I like the messaging feature and the fact that I can turn content and various features on and off so students are not overwhelmed with initially seeing so much course content and options when they log in. I also like the wiki and blog features – I would like to see this in Blackboard. My first impression is not totally favorable based on the layout and design, but once I explore Moodle and get more familiar with it, I am sure my impressions will change.
Students can upload large files, multiple files, pictures and submit for marking by clicking a button for marking. They can also upload any type of file to include audio and video files.
The assignments feature is very different than blackboards and there are some things I like about it, yet it doesn’t seem very user friendly to me IF you and your students are using to Blackboard’s Assignment Manager. I want to play with the overall course design and see just how much I can make it visually more interesting with a better visual hierarchy and various focal points that leads the student around the key areas of the Moodle interface.
Check out my Distance Learning Blog for more information about visual hierarchies – see Module II linked at the top of the Blog. I suppose what it all boils down to is COST. Since Blackboard is getting more and more expensive “open source” course management systems like Moodle are going to become more and more appealing to college administrator’s. If $$ is no object then I would stick with BB because I am very familiar with it and I like its functionality, interface and overall design AND it does what I want it to do as an instructor. If you are creative you can incorporate more “right brained” methodologies (strategies) into your course blackboard. It is like anything else…many online instructors will go with the defaults throughout the course management system and I don’t think it really matter what CMS you are using IF you are an innovative (creative) online teacher. A proactive online instuctor who knows his/her content and how to teach it in the online environment will be able to use any CMS and be successful.
I have some real concerns about the discussion board, although the groups feature is pretty cool. I think it all goes back to what you are used to. I need to spend some serious time with Moodle to see if it is a viable option for me and CCC.
I want to import my Art Appreciation class into Moodle and truly scrutinize this learning platform – this is the only way I will be able to give it a true assessment – all I am able to do right now is get a visual snap shot of its features and what applications and options it has – I don’t have a feel for its functionality especially with 25 students interacting with me.
The Moodle gradebook at first glance seems as sophisticated as BB with possibly even more viable options for grading and giving feedback to students. You also have lots of options in the discussion board as far as viewing, evaluating and grading student posts. So the more I am exposed to Moodle the more impressed I am with it – it just goes back to getting familiar with a new system and getting our faculty and students acclimated to it.
I spoke with Randall from WCC and I am going to set-up a section of Art Appreciation on Moodle as a test pilot and teach it for him sometime in the future when they are ready to move forward with this initiative.
The bottom line to all this is $$$$$$$$$ – it is that simple. The conversation at lunch revolved around how Blackboard is pricing itself out of our Community College market and we as DL Directors and Administrators are going to have to come up with alternatives and back-up plans if and when the time comes to completely rethink how we are going to offer our online courses.
As this workshop evolves I am seeing just how flexible Moodle is as far as changing the visual LOOK and DESIGN of the pages. That was a big concern for me being a visual person.
Day 2 Moodle Workshop
I initially attempted to export my Blackboard into a Moodle Template that I created and it didn’t work. It may have been because my Art Appreciation Blackboard was too big, however I looked at the instructor next to me and hers didn’t translate well at all so she decided to start from scratch moving the content. Blackboard’s interface is so different that I don’t see how exporting courses is going to work – it is going to take the same amount of man hours to literally copy and paste the content over to Moodle.This is what I am doing now, however I am having difficulty getting my mind wrapped around this new content management system – the visual hierarchy is very different that Blackboard and I am so used to BB it is a matter for me of completely RETHINKING how I teach my online classes. I felt excited about Moodle when I left the workshop yesterday but now I am a bit frustrated and am exploring how to reconfigure and redesign my class.
After 2 hours this morning of essentially playing with Moodle and going back and forth between my Blackboard Art Appreciation course and the one I was trying to build in Moodle I finally experienced a low level epiphany and started getting my mind around this course management interface. I am not ready to say whether I like it or not yet, however I feel as though I can make it work for ma and teach on it – in fact…I plan to teach a section of Art Appreciation for Randall at WCC this fall. With that said I need to go ahead and finish moving all my content over while Moodle is still relatively familiar to me.
Observations after the Moodle Workshop.
1. It is nothing like Blackboard that’s for sure.
2. It is NOT going to be easy for blackboard users to migrate their courses over to Moodle. I suggest copy and pasting the content over as raw html – this keeps the links and formatting intact for the most part although you still have to tweak your pages.
3. From what I have seen so far each online instructor is going to have to modify (change, alter, rethink) his/her teaching methodology to coincide with the Moodle interface.
4. I certainly don’t see this as a seamless migration and faculty and students alike coming from a Blackboard environment are going to experience some initial frustrations as they climb the Moodle learning curve.
5. Moodle is a different kind of Course Management animal and doesn’t seem very intuitive to me, however I will suspend my judgment until I can complete the process of moving my course over and teaching a section in the Fall.
6. Distance Learning coordinators and directors be prepared for lots of griping, frustration, resentment and anxiety on the part of your online faculty and students) who are experienced (veteran) Blackboard users.
Check out my DL Blog for my future thoughts on this and other instructional design and DL Issues.
CCC DL BLOG