Learning can be both gruelling and fun provided the kind of importance an educational institute attaches to the learning environment, in addition to the teaching staff, and the course material.
With the advent of technology, age old learning practices of telling a student what to do and how to do it are slowly making way for newer, innovative ways where the pupil is no more just a passive participant but is given the opportunity to immerse in an wholesome learning experience – enter the latest buzz words; LMS (Learning Management System), VLE (Virtual Learning Environment), CMS (Course Management Systems)!!!
All three are more or less synonymous in that they all have a common goal – to make learning as informative as coordinated as enjoyable an experience. Looking at the current buzz generated by the various VLEs, LMSses, us at Globussoft decided to take a look at one of the most popular VLEs amongst the lot – “Moodle”!
But before we dive head first into Moodle let’s get an idea what a VLE basically is. Wikipedia gives the following description:
A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a software system designed to support teaching and learning in an educational setting. A VLE will normally work over the Internet and provide a collection of tools such as those for assessment (particularly of types that can be marked automatically, such as multiple choice), communication, uploading of content, return of students’ work, peer assessment, administration of student groups, collecting and organizing student grades, questionnaires, tracking tools, etc. New features in these systems include wikis, blogs, RSS and 3D virtual learning spaces.
While originally created for distance education, VLEs are now most often used to supplement traditional face to face classroom activities, commonly known as Blended Learning.
Coming back to Moodle, Moodle is an open source VLE whose main goal is to take the best learning practices and convert them to an easily accessible, comprehensible, home environment via the “world wide web”. Although a hugely popular concept in the west, India too is certainly waking up to this revolutionary learning technique. IIT-Mumbai has implemented Moodle; you can have a look at it @ https://moodle.iitb.ac.in/. And to get a feel of the massive Moodle user base you can visit https://moodle.org/sites/.
As earlier mentioned, Moodle is open source, so it’s basically zero-cost software which can simply be downloaded with its source code as a zip file and installed on your system. Its official web site is www.moodle.org, here you need to go to the ‘Downloads’ section and download their latest build for your corresponding operating system as a zip file. Once done, unzip the file, this should create a directory ‘moodle’ and unzip all its files there.
Moodle is primarily developed in LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP). However, you may choose to deploy it on a variety of different operating systems (Mac, Linux, and Windows) and with several different database options (MySQL, Postgres, and MSSQL). If you are installing Moodle yourself, you need to ensure that your Apache, PHP and MySQL are properly configured on your server and are up and running. If you are installing it on a hosting service then the above would automatically be taken care of provided your web host supports PHP, which in today’s date most good hosting services do.
For any kind of assistance, moodle.org is the best place to be. Please go to https://docs.moodle.org/en/Installing_Moodle for detailed instructions on the install process and https://docs.moodle.org/en/Finding_and_Selecting_A_Web_Host is another useful link to swing by before the installation.
Assuming that the required environment is set, simply type the corresponding URL leading to your moodle directory in the browser’s address bar; it would be something like https://www.something.com/moodle/. If Moodle is not already installed on your server you should be automatically redirected to Moodle’s install script https://www.something.com/moodle/install.php which should begin the installation process. Also note that, before beginning the installation you need to have created an empty database along with a user that has all rights to that database. It would be wise to create a special user just for the moodle database and he/she should not be given any rights to any other databases of the DBMS. If a hacker discovered the moodle user/wd combination and if that user had rights to other databases as well then all those databases would be jeopardized.
If everything is fine, you should see the below screen:
Keying in the appropriate text and/or selecting the required options on each screen and clicking ‘Next’ should take you through a serious of easy, self explanatory steps. It would be advisable to read up the info displayed on each page before hastily moving on to the next screen.
One of the major steps in the whole installation is “setting up of the database”, once this step is done with you are shown the Admin screen. Here you will need to fill in details of your Moodle site administrator.
After the Admin screen, you come to the Moodle Front Page settings screen. The front page is the index page or the entry page of your Moodle site.
Finally, after completion of this step you will be redirected to the admin page of your site. By default you will be logged in as admin. Below is a snapshot of the admin front page.
On the left you can see a number of links, which, you as the admin can use to do various tasks such as creating courses, creating users and assigning them to the courses, giving them the appropriate rights, backing up data, changing the site’s appearance, applying security settings and much more. A little navigation should come handy getting acquainted to the framework.
That completes the installation! If you are interested, this (https://www.joomlagiants.com/demosites/moodledemo/moodle/) is our attempt at dabbling with Moodle, do have a look!
So, what are you waiting for? Introduce yourself to the new avatar of virtual learning, TODAY!! And if you are not a student, that’s ok too, it’s always nice to look at something new and interesting once in a while!!