Sunday, April 22, 2018

Moodle and OER

“How can educators facilitate open learning between face to face and digital learning environments? What are the benefits of expanding learning into digitally open learning environments?" are questions asked by Verena Roberts on Twitter before the 2018 Open Education Global Conference in Delft. Combining MoodleNet with OER is a viable answer to those questions.

Open source Moodle works great to facilitate open learning between face to face and digital learning environments -  the term ‘digital learning environment’ does not mean Not face to face. Face to face can include digital learning and it can include online learning. I began using Moodle in a 3rd and 4th grade face to face classroom over ten years ago; I wrote about that experience here.

Facilitation between face to face and online digital learning environments was also a very conscious effort of the work I led at Augsburg University when we converted more than 400 courses from a face to face format to a hybrid format. The Higher Learning Commission was very interested in that facilitation when they re-accredited the program. We wrote about that work here and were acknowledged with a Best Paper award at the 2014 HLC Conference. Moodle was key to that work.

Moodle is uniquely positioned to both take advantage of the increased use of OER and to make a contribution to the increased use of OER. Moodle is already the most widely used LMS in the world, it is solidly open, and it already has a repository established for the sharing of Moodle courses and resources. That repository is soon to have some enhancements made to it and now is the time for Global Open Educators to make their voice heard about how they would like to see MoodleNet enhanced. Moodle could do more to make more educators aware of the repository and new options for using Moodle in the classroom. A MoodleCloud site is free for up to 50 users and very inexpensive for larger sites that use basic features. Too many open educators are not yet aware of MoodleCloud or the MoodleNet repository of courses.

The MoodleNet repository currently only lists 91 courses, and a course based on the popular OpenStax OER texts doesn’t appear in the search of those 91 courses. Building this repository with full featured Moodle courses consisting of OER content should be Moodle’s path forward leading open education. Moodle doesn’t need to re-invent an Open platform; that part is already done.

Moodle can follow the lead of non-open proprietary companies; one of them, Top Hat, has created a repository of OER texts which Top Hat hopes educators will then use with their non-open learning management system. There are also about twenty or more companies who have partnered already with OpenStax to provide LMS-like functionality for OpenStax’s OER books. The model of using OER texts in an LMS-like platform is well established. Moodle just needs to steer more open educators toward using a fully Open LMS with OER content. Expanded open learning in open digital environments that are face to face, hybrid, blended, or fully online is already more than a possibility.

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