Moodle is a learning management system (LMS for short), or learning environment. Moodle has been chosen by the University of Helsinki as the preferred learning environment for the upcoming strategy period (2010-2012) while Blackboard will be phased out in 2010, leaving Moodle as the sole actual learning environment, thus freeing up resources when there previously were two systems. Moodle version 1.6 is currently in use but a modified version of the 1.9 release will be available in the autumn of 2009.
An LMS like Moodle is what you want to use when you need a closed area for your course where you can invite other teachers and students, distribute course materials, provide interaction with discussion forums, create assignments and quizzes or even grade the whole course. Moodle tries to make this as simple as possible, but of course it takes some practice to understand the logic behind the course management functions, so at least an introductory course is recommended for teachers thinking about getting the most out of Moodle.
+ comprehensive set of options (esp. version 1.9)
+ basic social networking features (users can edit their profiles, use instant messaging)
+ open source software, which means expansion possibilities are good
+ Haka-login enables (theoretically, when it works) other Haka-federation universities user accounts access to Moodle courses, making broader collaboration a bit easier
- as usual, getting e-learning benefits from Moodle requires an initial investment by the teacher in learning Moodle and setting up the course
- course view limitations regarding organization of materials (making tree-like navigation from pages on front page not possible) and layout (not possible to decorate course with custom icons like in Blackboard, for example)
Cases at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine:
First-year vet students get to use Moodle during the ICT Driving License -course. Feel free to test this course area in Moodle by logging into Moodle and using self registration to enter the course area – a good opportunity to test the quiz-tool, for example.