Building a Moodle course site was just the type of activity and motivation I’ve been looking for, for many different reasons. First of all, I’ve been interested in Moodle since around February of 2010. I went as far as installing a Moodle site on my hosted domain and tried playing with it. Other than creating a couple of course titles and inserting a forum activity, I did not get very far. However, the ETEC 565A Moodle site project did a good job in getting me into “learner mode.”
Another big reason for this project being a success for me is that it not only got me to answer the “how” of Moodle, but also the “why” or “what.” While creating my course site, I was also constantly thinking of the pedagogy behind what I was doing. Well, I suppose almost any preparation work for an educational task is bound to have pedagogy involved, but I think it is fair to say that I was reasonably well focused on this aspect. Chickering and Ehrmann’s (1996) Seven Principles played a part in this, as did the course’s case studies, along with Wesch’s (2007) reflections.
The course site went through three distinct phases during its development. The first phase was made up of a lot of content creation and creating the general UI look that I wanted to use. I spent a lot of time during this phase as I became aware of the Moodle paradigm. Like a lot of software, once the paradigm and workflow is identified and made familiar, using the software becomes reasonably easy and comfortable. Moodle is nice because only a modest amount of time is required to understand its workflow. Although it is cumbersome at times, it never gets terribly complex. Much of my time at this point was also spent honing my few html and css skills. By the end of this first phase I had developed a reasonable idea of the amount of time required to build a simple LMS course site, which is a very good bit of knowledge to be aware of.
The second phase that I went through was getting a deeper understanding of how the features of Moodle can be best utilized. Much of this was done for the Quiz assignment for ETEC 565A. With assessment being such a large part of education and learning, this phase was very significant in learning to get the most out of Moodle.
The last phase of the course site development included the last of my module content creation and tweaking of the UI. I also took this opportunity to expand on how I can use Moodle. One of my ideas was to create or use some SCORM content. The idea for this is partially due to me finding the SCORM packages from Absorb Advanced Physics. I didn’t use any of his packages, but I recognize the power of them and how they can be effectively used in an LMS. I found the Udutu website which offer free SCORM compliant course authoring, and I used it to create some SCORM activities for my course site. This primarily served as a learning experience for me, as these packages don’t offer much that Moodle can’t do itself. However, Udutu does have some nice graphical assessment templates. However, I think Moodle 2.0 has recently caught up to this in some ways.
Another opportunity for learning arose during the last phase of developing the course site. I had decided to do a pro/con debate as an activity and I stumbled upon several web2.0 tools that offer a free debating forum with a tailored format specifically made for debating. I decided to use one of these websites, www.createdebate.com. This gave me a reasonable amount of stress though. The day before the course site project was due, the createdebate website stopped loading. I had an outage at my house for most of the day. This was quite surprising given that the createdebate website is well-established. It is not some fly-by-night startup, hoping to quickly cash in on the web2.0 gravy train. Even more surprising is that I finally got in touch with their tech support people and they said they didn’t have any server problems. Regardless, I decided to stick with using their debate website as a part of one of my activities.
One last task was left for me to deal with, which was the testing and trouble-shooting of the course site. I think I’ve gone through the whole site a few times as both a student and as a teacher, and most (all?) of the big bugs have been ironed out. I know that testing is a major feat in itself, and also makes me wonder how a person or team would go about testing a complete LMS that is about to go live.
Chickering, A.W. & Ehrmann, S.C. (1996). Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, 49(2), 3-6
Wesch, M. (2007). A Vision of Students Today (& What Teachers Must Do) | Britannica Blog. Retrieved December 1, 2010, from http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2008/10/a-vision-of-students-today-what-teachers-must-do/