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Moodle Observations

I’ve been teaching on the Moodle online course management system for over 4 weeks now. I was introduced to Moodle at a workshop this past summer conducted at Pitt Community College. I must admit, at first I was a little hesitant to even consider using another CMS beside Blackboard because I have been using Blackboard since its inception (8 years) and feel very comfortable creating courses and teaching on it. With that said, I tried to keep an open mind and got enough training at the workshop to migrate one of my Art Appreciation classes over to the Moodle platform. This in itself took me about 20 + hours because there is no easy way to export course content directly from Blackboard to Moodle. They are two very different learning platforms, so I basically had to rethink how I would teach the class on Moodle and then copy and paste my weekly modules (assignments, lectures, discussion topics, podcasts and external links) over manually.

The only way to truly learn something in my opinion is to teach it so I volunteered to teach a section of my Art Appreciation class for Randall Shearon at Wayne Community College. After having two colleagues look over and critique my Moodle class I then went back and edited and revised it based on their feedback. Once I went through and fine tuned the course I was ready to teach it.

The most difficult thing for me the first week of class was breaking myself away from my Blackboard teaching methodology. Moodle is very different from Blackboard and as an online instructor I had to modify my teaching approach because of the way Moodle is configured. Now after four weeks of teaching on Moodle I can honestly say I like it and am starting to feel very comfortable teaching on this “open source” CMS. In fact, it seems to be more intuitive that Blackboard and I have had no technical problems whatsoever, unlike the issues of slowness, pages timing out and various glitches I find on the discussion board and grade book of Blackboard 7.3.

I find it easier to grade weekly homework and weekly discussions on Moodle and it handles audio, video files beautifully. The other thing I noticed was how quickly my students learned how to use it. Most of them had been taking classes on Blackboard and were in the same boat as me as far as never having taught or taken a course on Moodle. I made it very clear that I was new to this and asked my students for patience and told them I would also have patience with them as we all climbed the learning curve with Moodle.

I have nothing but positive things to say about Moodle after working with it daily for over a month. As a Director of Distance Learning at Carteret Community College I plan on incrementally exposing my faculty to Moodle, although I am well aware their will be lots of dissent and resistanceĀ  due to the amount of time it takes to migrate Blackboard content over to Moodle. This may be the biggest issue to overcome when selling the idea to faculty. There is no getting away from the amount of time it takes to copy and paste course content over from Blackboard to Moodle, in addition to having to absolutely re-think the instructional design and teaching methodology of your online course.

I hope to teach more sections of my classes on Moodle in the semesters ahead and can envision weaning myself off Blackboard completely in the next 3 years. I am very frustrated with Blackboard, their tech support and the latest version 7.3 in my opinion is disappointing and a step backwards in overall design and navigation.

comments and your thoughts on Blackboard vs. Moodle are welcome

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6 comments on “Moodle Observations

  1. frank4ed
    September 22, 2007

    Moodlerooms, Inc. is the answer to your quandary over course conversion and pedagogical CMS fit. Moodlerooms, headquartered in Baltimore and with offices in CA, MA, NH, and a few outside the US could have saved you many hours of conversion time, can host Moodle, and has fabulous customer service. They also have highly skilled trainers who could cut your pedagogical CMS platform adaptation time in half – or more. Moodlerooms is the leading Moodle partner around the Globe.

  2. Patrick Keough
    September 24, 2007

    Thanks for the tip Frank! I will check Moodlerooms out and see how I can take advantage of these services.

    Moodle User

  3. Patricia Stuever
    September 28, 2007

    No clue about Moodle vs Blackboard but I added you to my list of feeds.
    Cheers! Patricia ’03

  4. Matt Crosslin
    October 2, 2007

    One of the things to realize about Blackboard to Moodle conversion is that Blackboard tries pretty hard to protect their proprietary content, and sometimes the course export from Blackboard is a little difficult for other platforms to understand. The one course I tried to export from Blackboard to Moodle took about 1 hour, most of that in going through and fixing little glitches that were just bad coding on my part in the original course. Most people that I have talked to seem to have the same easy experience with Blackboard -> Moodle migration, but there are some that seem to take longer. I haven’t really been able to see what it is that causes it to take longer for some and be very easy for others – but it seems to somehow relate to the export from BB, not the import to Moodle. But, it can be very quick and painless in some instances. If you haven’t looked in to it yet, there is a Blackboard migration tool:

  5. Pingback: The “BUZZ” In Distance Learning for NC « Keo BloG

  6. Pingback: Moodle Admin Workshop « KeO BLoG

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This entry was posted on September 21, 2007 by in Distance Learning.
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