Virtual learning environments are nothing new; as an increasing number of schools and institutions leverage technology, they take various approaches to e-learning, often erecting proprietary and closed course management systems. But, what happens when knowledge, information, coursework and curriculum gets packaged, pooled and distributed for free across an open network of global teachers and instructors? Imagine a learning environment in which shared knowledge was sourced (in part) by the real-time collective intellect of educational professionals from across the world.
Modular Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment (aka Moodle) is a free and open source learning management system and teaching platform developed (primarily) by Moodle Pty Ltd in Perth, Australia. Moodle has a significant user base with 46,624 registered sites with 32,464,992 users in 3,161,291 courses in 209 countries and more than 75 languages are supported (more stats). Moodle is essentially a a space for teachers to conduct classes with typical application for education, training and development and business settings.
In the collaborative spirit, two local Minnesotans have recently partnered up to take advantage of the Moodle’s open source software license and create a more socially dynamic platform for the discovery and sharing of Moodles – individual digitized courses bundled in zip format licensed under creative commons, uploaded to a Moodle server. Since Moodles can be downloaded, re-modulated, and customized for any specific course or topic-why not promote and improve the concept with improved social features? On Moodleshare, Moodles can be voted on, discussed, enhanced and promoted. Educators have an opportunity to receive feedback on their courses or ideas about how their courses might be improved. Teachers can directly load their zipped courses to the site and they can link to their content for others to view/review.
Moodles are relatively foreign to most k-12 classrooms, but it’s easy to see how they have the potential to permeate the education system and change the methodology in which knowledge is currently acquired and disseminated. For teachers, MoodleShare means not having to re-invent the wheel for new class offerings, as real time peer feedback/contribution keeps content fresh and relevant. From a students/learners perspective, the Moodle platform presents a shared learning environment including handouts, course materials, videos, chat rooms, discussion board, wiki’s and the ability to embed many other Web 2.0 elements. Moodleshare content is designed to span a range of educational phases-from primary through post secondary, “life long learning” tracks and niche topics.
Moodleshare was co-conceived by Jon Fila, Consultant and Online Coordinator/Technology Integration Specialist with the Carver Scott Education Cooperative. With over 10 years of first hand experience in the classroom, his current focus is specifically on the convergence of education and digital initiatives. The website design and functionality was crafted by Moodleshare Partner Matt Lee, also Co-Owner of Bingo Theory, a web development and interactive marketing consultancy in Minneapolis.
Moodleshare is young but growing in content by the day as consistent inbound traffic comes from every continent. By design, the project generates no direct financial return for its creators. According to Mr. Fila,
“The essence of the project is simply to create more awareness of the Moodle movement, in Minnesota, the US and world at large -so as to increase the quality of content taught in schools around the world. I believe that if even 1% of the teachers within the US started Moodling their curriculum, a snowball effect will occur that will forever change the archaic US education system.”