The Opposition

Not soon after I started introducing technology, namely Moodle, to the school, did small parties of opposition begin their uprising. There were many arguments against the implementation of the LMS (Learning Management System). Some argued that security would be an issue. I call that argument the "myspace syndrome". Others admitted they had techno-philia(something like that, you know the fear of computers), others said they preferred paper and that computers would make the students eyes tired (not like video games). Still others claimed it would be bad for accrediation (yeah the accreditation people hate when schools try to create standards) Naysayers the whole lot of them.

But the number 1 opposing viewpoint was that face to face communication would suffer and that people were more important than computers. It is this argumnet that struck me the hardest. Computers, Moodle, or whatever are tools. Since the Stone Age humans have been using tools. The techno revolution is nothing new people. Now if a teacher is just going to give a bunch of assignments and not show up and talk to her students then obviously that would be a problem. But if a teacher is going to give their students 24 hour access to grades, assignments, syllabi, and what not and even proudly display student work online, then that is efficiency and progress.

I'll admit that it does take a while to get used to and I know that everyone is not computer savvy, but it is not like you are being asked to learn programming or code. Within a term, an instructor can master Moodle and save their courses and reuse them over and over. They can have grades automatically computed, they can have central storage for all their papers. They can connect and collaborate with students in ways they could not during The Stone AGe.

At one point it seemed the only ones for the Moodle were the guys on top, the admins. For them anything that was free, and provided a way to oversee the school was totally kosher. While we have it up and running and the instructors in my department have been stellar about dedicating themselves to learning, the challenge is getting the whole school to adapt to the system. Little by little , small steps, workshops and training, educational technology will make the classroom a better place just as the discovery of fire did for early humans. Cavemen rock on.

Enter Moodle-An Introduction

My department developed a slew of online quizzes for students to practice their vocabulary in Japan before arriving at our school using Hot Potato. But now we needed something more powerful to actually assess what they had learned from the online training. My system administrator suggested a truly groundbreaking piece of software called Moodle. So I gave it a whirl and man, was I blown away.

From wanting to put one assessment tool online, suddenly I realized my whole department and even the whole academic side of the college could be managed from one simple solution. With only weeks to go, I started introducing Moodle to the other instructors who would each be hosting their courses online. Now we had a way to test students for placement, post syllabi, give timed essay questions, blog, audio record, show headline news, create glossaries, edit profiles, conduct item analysis, calculate our grades, have e-portfolios, you name it, I'm serious, go ahead and try.

I had heard of such programs like Blackboard or WebCT, but Moodle was a free open-source solution with great documentation. It is now only the third week that our curriculum has been running with Moodle and as coordinator of the department and as an instructor I can say that I will never run a class without Moodle again. Two Thumbs up and five gold stars.