Moodle is the University's VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). Moodle is a learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalised learning environments. Moodle provides us with a flexible tool-set to support both blended learning and online courses.
Moodle delivers a powerful set of learner-centric tools and collaborative learning environments that empower both teaching and learning. The pedagogic design of Moodle includes a constructivist and social constructionist approach to education, emphasising that learners (and not just tutors) can contribute to the educational experience. Using these pedagogical principles, Moodle provides a flexible environment for learning communities.
Because it is open-source, Moodle can be customised in any way and tailored to our institutional needs. Moodle is web-based and so can be accessed from anywhere in the world. With a default mobile-compatible interface and cross-browser compatibility, content on the Moodle platform is easily accessible and consistent across different web browsers and devices.
What is Moodle?
Combining traditional learning theories, such as constructivism, cognitivism and behaviourism, with contemporary theories such as connectivism, gives us the foundation on which to develop successful models for online and blended learning.
The design and development of Moodle is guided by a "social constructionist pedagogy". This page attempts to unpack this concept in terms of four main, related concepts: constructivism, constructionism, social constructivism, and connected and separate.
The pedagogic design of Moodle includes a constructivist and social constructionist approach to education, emphasising that learners (and not just tutors) can contribute to the educational experience. Using these pedagogical principles, Moodle provides a flexible environment for learning communities.
From a constructivist point of view, people actively construct new knowledge as they interact with their environments. The heart of Moodle is courses that contain activities and resources. There are about 20 different types of activities available (forums, glossaries, wikis, assignments, quizzes, choices (polls), databases etc) and each can be customised quite a lot. The main power of this activity-based model comes in combining the activities into sequences and groups, which can help you guide participants through learning paths. Thus, each activity can build on the outcomes of previous ones.
Constructionism asserts that learning is particularly effective when constructing something for others to experience. This can be anything from a spoken sentence in Theatre, or an internet posting, to more complex artefacts like a painting in Fine Art, an item of furniture in Product Design, or a software package in Computer Science. The Empower element of our 3E Framework refers to the developed use of technology that requires higher order individual and collaborative learning that reflect how knowledge is created and used in professional environments.
Social constructivism extends constructivism into social settings, wherein groups construct knowledge for one another, collaboratively creating a small culture of shared artefacts with shared meanings. When learners are immersed within a culture like this, they are learning all the time about how to be a part of that culture, on many levels.
The connected and separate idea looks deeper into the motivations of individuals within a discussion:
- Separate behaviour is when someone tries to remain 'objective' and 'factual', and tends to defend their own ideas using logic to find holes in their opponent's ideas.
- Connected behaviour is a more empathic approach that accepts subjectivity, trying to listen and ask questions in an effort to understand the other point of view.
- Constructed behaviour is when a person is sensitive to both of these approaches and is able to choose either of them as appropriate to the current situation.
In general, a healthy amount of connected behaviour within a learning community is a very powerful stimulant for learning, not only bringing people closer together but promoting deeper reflection and re-examination of their existing beliefs.
Consideration of these issues can help to focus on the experiences that would be best for learning from the learner's point of view, rather than just publishing and assessing the information you think they need to know. It can also help you realise how each participant in a course can be a teacher as well as a learner. Your job as a 'teacher' can change from being 'the source of knowledge' to being an influencer and role model of class culture, connecting with students in a personal way that addresses their own learning needs, and moderating discussions and activities in a way that collectively leads students towards the learning goals of the class.
There are many useful resources available to help you with the creation of your Moodle VLE courses. Below are links to some that you may find helpful.
When creating a Moodle course you can add what Moodle refers to as Activities. Usually an activity is something that a student will do that interacts with other students and or the teacher. There are a variety of activities that you can choose from including quizzes, assignments and workshops. To find out more about the different kind of activity click on the links below:
A resource is an item that a teacher can use to support learning, such as a file or link. Moodle supports a range of resource types which you can add to your courses. To find out more about the different kind of resources click on the links below:
Blocks can be added to any page in Moodle and appear the on left, right or centre column of the page. When you create a Moodle with the minimum standards template it has two blocks added, the twitter feed and progress bar, you can edit or delete these two or add more if you wish.
Courses are the spaces on Moodle where tutors add learning materials and activities for their students. Tutors can add the content and re-organise them according to their own needs.
Moodle and the 3E Framework
The aim of our TEL Quality Framework is to assist staff to meaningfully incorporate technology into learning, teaching and assessment, using the principles of the 3E Framework.
Lynda.com is an online learning platform that helps anyone learn business, software, technology and creative skills to achieve personal and professional goals. The University subscribes to the service (using your university login details you can access the library of videos).