Technology has touched many aspects of our lives, education being one pronounced one. The current buzzword of e-learning and distance education are the derivatives of modern technology, and has become prevalent in our current societies.
Teachers of high schools and colleges are asked to develop their course contents for both the classroom students and the ones who will be studying online. A number of researches in this regard have highlighted the drawback of online learning, particularly of asynchronous learning programs. Though, students have the ease of time flexibility and they can login to their system anytime to access the course material, the efficiency of direct interaction is compromised. Online video conferencing and chat rooms have been developed in this respect to imitate real classroom environment in the online one. These strategies have proved beneficial, but they also have several unavoidable limitations and drawbacks that dilute the learning experience of the online learners, the issues with internet connectivity and voice quality for example.
Moodle open-source learning platform, launched in 2002, has proven to be the most effective and interactive online learning platform to date. Not only it is easier to use for both teachers and students, the endless features and applications give the opportunity to teachers to enhance the learning experience of the students.
Moodle is an acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment, which can be considered as a blend of asynchronous and synchronous e-learning styles. My personal observation of a number of online platforms is that the teacher uploads the MS Word or PPT file of the course material and sometimes a video to further explain what has been defined in those files. Thinking it analytically, this is no different than how a lecture is conducted in the classroom, but here there is no two-way communication. Some universities provide a blog forum where students can leave their comments and queries, which would be answered by the teacher, but this again neglects the component of group discussion which fosters individual's learning. The Moodle platform is a great solution for all these issues that have remained neglected or unsolved for quite some time.
The rich programming infrastructure of Moodle allows teachers and students to upload files of different formats simultaneously. They can attach a doc file, or MP3, or a video file. The option of voice integration can allow teachers to add a voice message with the uploaded doc file of the course material. Furthermore, anchor text can be inserted in the text, which will lead students to other websites or pages from where they can get additional information about the topic. In this way, students do not have to go an extra mile to improve their learning as almost everything is provided on this platform.
We cannot ignore the interaction component of learning. It is apparent that if a student is reading a text or just listening to an audio or video recording his/her learning will be limited as compared to a student who is able to take part in a direct interaction with the teacher. So, the interaction feature of Moodle makes it a complete solution for proper and interactive online education. Students can chat with each other or with the teacher on the platform, both via written messages and direct voice chat.
Even if a teacher is not available, students can record their message, which will be answered by the teacher when s/he gets online. The "Quiz" feature of Moodle allows teachers and instructors to develop their course quizzes as per the academic level of their students. They can add hints with difficult questions or a voice message for the better guidance of students. It is just as the teacher is physically present at the place of the quiz.
There are plenty of other features that teachers can include in their teaching, so it is totally up to the teachers that how creative they can be in designing their course material and how they can enhance the learning experience of the students, who are far away from their physical classrooms.