You may have wondered where I’ve been lately. Or maybe not. Remember the LearnIT2Teach resource I mentioned earlier? They offer 4 Stages of training for the MOODLE Learning Management System. I completed Stage 2 this week and am about to dive into Stage 3.
What can I say about Moodle? Well, first of all, Stage 1 was quite easy. That’s not to say you didn’t have to think, but it was a basic introduction to the LMS and showed the participants what the students’ perspective would be. A lot of times instructors/teachers ask learners to do a particular task that they themselves have not done. Stage 1 uses the LINC courseware and asks participants to complete a number of assignments that the learners would typically be given. I think that this is brilliant, and when more instructor/teachers take this training (and they will, no doubt about that), they are going to see the merit of actually doing the student task before assigning it to the student.
Another great thing about Stage 1 is that it subtly assesses other aspects of technology use, and it doesn’t call the “quizzes” quizzes, it calls them “confidence builders”. I’m a grade junkie. I admit it. If there are 100 marks to be had, I want the whole enchilada. If a mistake is made, I immediately analyze the question for defects. Then, because I can, I re-do the “confidence-builder” (after reviewing the course material, if there is a point I’m not clear on).
Moodle Vs. Desire2Learn
I’ve now had some experience with both LMS’s (note, punctuation aficionados, an apostrophe can be used in an acronym ending with “s” to indicate plural, not possession. Adding the apostrophe reduces confusion.)
Now, which one do I prefer? Well, both LMS’s have pros and cons. Let me start with what I know (remember, I still have to dive into Stage 3). Both LMS’s have many of the same features, such as quizzes, blogs, forums, etc. Moodle kicks D2L’s virtual butt. Moodle is better in a number of key areas, but most importantly with regards to user friendliness.
Another key point is the Help Desk. If you’ve read the rest of my blog, you know that I’m not shy to call the Help Desk. In fact, I ended up logging about 2 dozen calls over July-August, and got to know Help Desk staff by first name. (Sid, by the way, you really need to do something about the 2+ minutes of awkward phone silence when you’re dealing with frustrated instructor/teachers…).
D2L staff were fairly knowledgeable, but passed the buck a lot. Also, on more than one occasion, they gave me wrong information (like about the blog tool; they told me that my DELC would need to enable the tool before learners could access it. It was actually there all along, in profiles. I stumbled on it in the last week of class.)
Moodle support has been awesome. Granted, I have not called Jim, but I have emailed him at least a half-dozen times now. Despite it being prime vacation season, he always replies within the next business day.
Another major advantage of Moodle are the tutorials. I looked far and wide for help with D2L (videos, pdfs, anything). There was nothing cohesive; a bit here, a bit there… Plus, the “help” that was available to us could have been better. An email I sent re: the blog tool wasn’t answered for over 2 weeks. Our “training” on the LMS consisted of an open lab, and this well-thought out question: “So, what do you want to do?”. Moodle, on the other hand, has very specific, step by step instructions plus practice. You do the task. Moodle holds your hand, and gives you a virtual fist-bump when you do the right thing (well, it says “good job”. I like the immediate feedback).
For ESL instructors, it’s got to be Moodle. I still need to start creating material, but D2L pales in comparison. More specific comparisons to follow shortly.