TED and Me

Technology, Education, Design and Me.


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A mock propsal for implementing Moodle.

Project objectives

This project aims to implement Moodle as the Language Centre’s online learning management system (LMS). This process will include: the installation and configuration of the Moodle application; change in management across the Language Centre, including staff training; the migration of all active websites; and data migration, such as student information. The objective of implementing Moodle, as guided by Panettieri and Perkins and Pfaffman, is to create an environment to provide students access to course material, assignments and multimedia; to provide instructors, administrators, the Language Centre and the university community a window into the language learning process; and to provide instructors an effective and efficient way to organize a blended learning environment (Panettieri, n.d.; Perkins & Pfaffman, 2006).


Moodle.org describes its LMS as “a software package for producing Internet-based courses and web sites. It is a global development project designed to support a social constructionist framework of education.” Moodle is open source software under the GNU Public license, allowing users to adopt, adapt and modify the application.

What are the major outcomes of this project?

The major outcomes of this project are based on the SECTIONS model and “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate” (Bates & Poole, 2003; Chickering & Ehrmann, 1996). Students, are, of course, extremely important, and the accessibility of a technology for students and whether it is appropriate for their learning needs must be considered. But it is also the ease of use that is important for lowering the learning curve and raising acceptability of technologies by both teachers and students. With regards to the seven principles outlined by Chickering and Gamson, we would like to implement a LMS that (1) enhances the ability for more contact between students and faculty (2) allows for more opportunities for detailed and prompt feedback to students and (3) creates an environment that develops reciprocity and cooperation among students.

“Principles and Priorities for a UofT Learning Managements System” and EduTools’ Course Management System Comparisons website were used to assist with determining what issues and features need consideration and to compare them to other existing LMSs (Smith, 2005). Particular issues that were considered include: scalability, sustainability, maintainability, interoperability, and usability. Cost, technical specifications, and the various student, administration, course delivery and content development tools were also considered.

At the time of writing, Moodle says the largest live Moodle installation handles 45,000+ students and 6,500+ courses registered, which far exceeds the Language Centre’s needs (“Case for Moodle – MoodleDocs,” 2009). Moodle also has numerous interoperability features, all of which are outlined on their website. Support includes pop-up help, Moodle Docs, community forums and paid for support contracts (which are not necessary because our technical staff should provide support). Moodle’s interface is simple and easy to use and there are numerous online text and video tutorials freely available.

To learn any language, one should be as immersed as much as possible in an environment where it is spoken or written. The Language Centre lessons, occuring 3 hours per week, over 14 weeks per semester, are not enough. And, at the moment, there is no environment where students can practice their language skills under the guidance of an instructor other than classroom time, the Self Access Centre, and other Language Centre sponsored programmes – all of which occur solely on campus. Moodle provides opportunities for students and instructors to have more interaction on and off campus, during and out of scheduled lessons. This interaction can be synchronous or asynchronous, depending on the intended learning outcomes of a course. And, because of Moodle’s open source nature, numerous third-party applications have been developed to increase the student-teacher-content interaction. These include blogging, wiki, and chat room features. One such third-party software that runs in Moodle and is already in use within the Language Centre is the GONG project, a free system for voice communication on the Web. Compared to other LMS in the market, Moodle provides more opportunities for student-student, student-teacher, and teacher-teacher interaction through various communication tools.

Moodle provides administrative tools that allow users to: assign different roles to instructors and students in different courses; create unlimited custom organizational units and roles; and distribute permissions and roles across multiple institutions or departments hosted in the server environment. There is a diverse pool of testing and marking tools, such as test types that include questions containing other media elements (images, videos, audio).

Technical specifications

According to Moodle Docs, “Moodle is primarily developed in Linux using Apache, MySQL and PHP (also sometimes known as the LAMP platform). It is also regularly tested with Windows XP/2000/2003 (WAMP), Solaris 10 (Sparc and x64), Mac OS X and Netware 6 operating systems. Support for PostgreSQL, Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server is also available.” The Language Centre primarily uses Windows XP, so this shouldn’t be a problem. Needed hardware includes: disk space: 160MB free (min). You will require more free space to store your teaching materials; and memory: 256MB (min), 1GB (recommended). Software includes: server software and PHP scripting language.


Compared to competing LMSs, which often require a large licence fee, Moodle costs are low. Based on research, we estimate that the total cost for hardware, in-house technical support, administrator costs, and staff training will amount to approx. $1 million Hong Kong dollars (Winter, 2006).

Works Cited

Bates, A. W., & Poole, G. (2003). Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Case for Moodle – MoodleDocs. (2009). Retrieved June 5, 2009, from http://docs.moodle.org/en/Case_for_Moodle.

Chickering, A. W., & Ehrmann, S. C. (1996). Implementing the Seven Principles:
Technology as Lever. Retrieved June 5, 2009, from http://www.aahea.org/bulletins/articles/sevenprinciples.htm.

Panettieri, J. C. (n.d.). Addition by Subtraction. University Business. Retrieved June 5, 2009, from http://www.universitybusiness.com/viewarticle.aspx?articleid=845.

Perkins, M., & Pfaffman, J. (2006). Using a course management system to improve classroom communication. SCIENCE TEACHER-WASHINGTON-, 73(7), 33.

Smith, B. C. (2005). Principles & Priorities for a UofT Learning Management System. Retrieved from http://content.library.utoronto.ca/rcat/lms/pdf/lsm_principles.pdf.

Winter, M. (2006). Learning Management Systems for the Workplace A Research Report Michael Winter August 2006. Retrieved from www.tanz.ac.nz/pdf/LMS_Final.pdf.

Written by seanmcminn

May 5th, 2009 at 11:33 pm

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