Moodle Workshop

Inside the Moodle Workshop

Program Assessment with Moodle Workshop

Appendix A: fewer Clicks

Appendix B: Online Education Data

Appendix C: Becoming a Moodle Buddy

Appendix D: Moodle Workshop Student Tutorial Video

Implications for Future Study


Implications for Future Study

In 2005, Humboldt State University faculty Kathy D. Munoz and Joan Van Duzer conducted a small-scale study to compare Blackboard and Moodle. While the results come from a small data set and are now five years old, they resonate with claims that current Moodle users make. Nonetheless, during the past five years, both Moodle and Blackboard have made several changes. Blackboard purchased competitors Angel and WebCT and the Moodle developer and support base has dramatically grown, as I explain in the introduction.

While current installations of Blackboard and Moodle share some of the same core features, such as a gradebook, forums, wiki, email, Moodle benefits from over 700 modules and plugins, from photo albums to mathematics modules to peer-review modules. Nonetheless, what would the Humboldt study results look like if the study were replicated this year? Would the study need to compare Moodle to Blackboard v.X and then to Blackboard Enterprise? Would the study need to involve students, faculty and IT administrators?

In the charts below, I identify some key data from the Humboldt study.

Did Blackboard enhance instruction?

Did Moodle enhance instruction?

0% strongly agree

23.1% somewhat agree

23.1% neutral

23.1% somewhat disagree

30.8% strongly disagree

7.1% strongly agree

21.4% somewhat agree

28.6% neutral

28.6% somewhat disagree

14.3% strongly disagree

Most striking is that zero percent of students thought Blackboard enhanced instruction while almost 31 percent strongly thought that Blackboard did not enhance instruction. Then the question of how Moodle enhances instruction remains.

The following two data sets support Moodle's claim that it's a social constructivist learning management system. The data shows that Moodle facilitates communication, both between students and between students and instructors.

Student Satisfaction
Communication tools: Interaction with classmates?



15.4 significantly enhanced

38.5% somewhat enhanced

23.1% neutral

23.1% somewhat impeded

21.4% significantly enhanced

50.0% somewhat enhanced

14.3% neutral

14.3% somewhat impeded


Student Satisfaction
Communication tools: Interaction with Instructor?



15.4% significantly enhanced

30.8% somewhat enhanced

15.4% neutral

38.5% somewhat impeded

14.3% significantly enhanced

57.1% somewhat enhanced

21.4% neutral

7.1% significantly impeded

In fact, one students involved in the study exclaimed that with Moodle, "[I had] to participate a lot more frequently than I believe I would have in a traditional classroom setting." Another student stated, "I felt that I learned a lot and was forced to read the text more than I do for most of my classes." Thus, students noted that they were communicating more, participating more, and generally working harder when using Moodle as a learning management system. Students found value in that engagement, at 35.7% of them expressed a preference for Moodle while only 21.4% preferred Blackboard.

In this webtext, I primarily examined how the Moodle workshop can operate to support social constructivist electronic learning. However, the Workshop is one mere module. Throughout the platform, Moodle's strength is the way it facilitates Consistent, Instant feedback, and that is what needs to be studied.

Moodle's strongest asset is the way it communicates with students and with instructors. In the Student Comments section from Munoz and Van Duzer's (2005) study, students indicated that they both loved and loathed how Moodle kept them informed about course activities.

  • Moodle courses can be set to email students and/or instructors when participants
  • Post to discussion forums (All course
    Announcements, “News,” are emailed to
  • Use Moodle's Message feature (in the course, it
    sends an Instant Message; outside of the course,
    it sends an email)
  • Submit assignments (students)
  • Grade assignments
  • Send notes
  • Respond to blogs
  • Schedule office hours visits via Scheduler
  • Etc.

The email load can become burdensome, especially for those teaching or taking several courses. However, when sending email, Moodle helps students identify themselves by placing the course's short title in the subject line. Thus, the subject line “My Grade” becomes “English 101: My Grade.” Users can manage email from
the subject line, and users can use their email program to direct all Moodle email to predefined folders. Additionally, users may choose not to receive email updates for certain course functions, such as forums.

In my experience using Moodle, email alerts are a boon. In General Education literature courses, for example, students are wont to disregard discussion forum assignments. After that first brave student posts something, however, a group of students join in after
receiving email: students remind each other to participate in class.

The mere facet of LMS-based email communication is worth study in light of Smith, Salaway and Caruso's (2009) ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2009, which found that three times as many first-year students as seniors owned portable computers in 2008 and that desktop computer use is dramatically diminishing. With the advent of advanced portable devices such as the iPad, how will online education change? How will the nature of educational communication change, especially since a majority of students now favor receiving university emergency updates via text message?

Where does online learning take place and where does online learning need to take place? Where are the users? How will universities most effectively engage students?

Next: Introduction