MET:A Moodle Approach

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This page was originally authored by Steve MacKenzie (February, 2011).

Moodle, a Learning Course Management System (abbreviated as L/CMS), consists of free open source software that installed on a web server becomes accessible through the internet and enables educators to create dynamic online learning experiences emphasizing collaboration and community.

With focus on interaction over content, Moodle encourages a social constructivist approach to learning which comprises construction of meaning and new content through interaction with course content and peers (Dougiamas, 1998; Rice, 2006).

Types of Course Modules

The Moodle interface consists of a front page and course pages which contain modules for a course.

Static Course Modules

A label can be titles, graphics and paragraphs.

A text page contains course material accessed through links.

A web page contains active code making them dynamic.

A link connects to material stored in Moodle's database in any format or another website.

A directory lists all the files in Moodle’s database.

(Cole, 2005; Rice, 2006)

Interactive Course Activity Modules

Assignment submissions can be uploaded in any format for assessment and email feedback or returned with notes in the document for review and resubmission.

Choice is a question used to take a poll, vote on preference or choose assignment topics creating a student-centered course where teacher and students(optional) can view results.

Lesson is a conditional branching activity where learners go to pages chosen by the student or determined by their answers to questions (linked to advanced or remedial pages). This activity can be used in creating branching quizzes, flashcards, case-study/simulation lessons where students’ responses are interactive and graded online.

Quiz feature uses HTML formatting with question types ranging from multiple choice to numerical questions (with allowable ranges), each programmed with allowable answers and optional feedback. The automatically graded quizzes give students and educators instant feedback on students’ achievement at any time in the lesson and can provide study practice.

Survey feature provides prewritten customizable surveys which assess students’ learning style, preferred learning environment, or opinion on course progression enabling course adjustments.

(Cole, 2005, Rice, 2006)

Interactive Social Activity Modules

Chat allows students to communicate synchronously online thus facilitating instantaneous communication, development of thoughts without typical classroom distractions, enhancement of knowledge and reasoning through discourse and collaboration, and access to saved chat transcripts (Kuhn, Shaw and Felton, 1997; Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1994).

Blog is an online journal created by each user for personal or public viewing and includes a title, journal entry, searchable keyword tags, attached files and/or pictures. Blogs can be used for personal reflections on learning, group work, or student feedback by creating tagged blogs which can be collated by the instructor through a keyword search.

Forum is an online archived asynchronous searchable bulletin board where students can post threaded responses to discussion forums started by users on a topic area enabling student discourse outside of the classroom time (Kuhn et al, 1997). Forums range from single topics with only one discussion to multiple discussions started by various students on multiple topics. This module provides a variety of settings including specification of access to allowed members, restriction of the number of forum discussions created by members or control of which postings members can see and when, such as, Q and A forums where each student posts one solution before they can see and discuss other student’s solutions. Forum is also used for sending class email announcements or email notification of new posts.

Messaging provides private communication between users for topics not meant for public forum such as notification of grades, comments on assignments or questions about participation.

Glossary, meaning searchable list of entries, automatically links to the same entry in course pages and becomes a collaborative tool for learning when students and teachers contribute to its knowledge and meaning in its various forms including vocabulary with graphics or video, a compilation of past and possible future exam questions, or even a class directory of individual’s interests, specializations, and projects.

Wiki can be used to present class material or comprise the entire course and enables student groups or the entire class to collaborate and edit a project or discuss a topic within a collection of web pages. Wikis can be searched like other course material and can be restored to any version saved during its creation.

Workshop, similar to the assignment module, extends functionality to enable students to review and assess peer’s work, using provided assessment rubrics or forms, and receive graded feedback on their assessment (Moodle suggests scaffolding by providing exemplar submissions and assessments). This function provides students with peer feedback before final submission, self-assessment of their work based on specific criteria, opportunity to learn by comparing and contrasting others work with their own, and practice at recognizing and assessing criteria in their's and other's assignments (Liu, Lin, Chiu and Yuan, 2001).

(Cole, 2005; Rice, 2006).

Benefits of Moodle

As of 2011, Moodle, an open source L/CMS, has over 1 million registered users and 50,000 sites with an extensive online community able to:

a. assist other Moodle users,

b. work with developers to construct and test new modules/features,

c. individually create and share plug-ins/patches/modules to rapidly meet the evolving and specific needs and pedagogical direction of users.

Moodle is free to run (except for webhosting cost), easily installed/used and can be scaled from a single course to numerous courses for a large university.

Unlike many L/CMSs, Moodle activities/courses can be altered during their progression, enabling adaptive responses to pedagogical needs, and are formatted as a localized, entire set of weekly or topical learning activities on one page rather than over a variety of activity pages which can create confusion for students.

(Berggren, Burgos, Fontana, Hinkelman, Hung, Hursh and Tielemans, 2005; Beatty and Vlasewicz, 2006; Cole, 2005).

Limitations of Moodle

Unfortunately, defining Moodle’s specific limitations are difficult as patches, modules and plug-ins are continually being created making certain functional limitations transient.

Although Moodle can be used in a variety of ways, it lends itself to a social and interactive learning process and challenges the educator to create an effective educational design that utilizes the affordances of the Moodle software.

(Cole, 2005)

See Also

Learning Management System

Common Elements and Limitations

Course Management System

Moodle and Constructivism

Constructivist Learning Environments

Educational Blogging

Wikis in Education

Knowledge Building Communities

Other Resources

MOODLE: Links & Resources for Educators


Beatty, B., & Ulasewicz, C. (2006). Online teaching and learning in transition: Faculty perspectives on moving from blackboard to the Moodle learning management system. TechTrends, 50, 36–45.

Berggren, A., Burgos, D., Fontana, J.M., Hinkelman, D., Hung, V., Hursh, A., & Tielemans, G. (2005). Practical and pedagogical issues for teacher adoption of IMS learning design standards in Moodle LMS. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2005(02). Retrieved February 19, 2011 from

Cole, J. (2005). Using Moodle: Teaching with the popular open source course management system. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly Media. Retrieved February 19, 2011 from

Dougiamas, M., & Taylor, P.C. (2003). Moodle: Using learning communities to create an open source course management system. Proceedings of the EDMEDIA 2003 Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii. Retrieved February 18, 2011 from

Kuhn, D., Shaw, V., and Felton, M. (1997) Effects of dyadic interaction on argumentative reasoning. Cognition and instruction 15, 287–315.

Liu, E.Z., Lin S.S.J., Chiu, C., and Yuan,S. (2001). Web-Based Peer Review: The Learner as both Adapter and Reviewer, IEEE Transactions on Education, 44(3). Retrieved February 17, 2011 from

Rice, W. H. (2006). Moodle: E-learning course development. Birmingham, UK: Packt Publishing. Retrieved February 17, 2011 from

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1994). Computer support for knowledge-building communities. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 3, 265-283. Retrieved February 17, 2011 from