I have always been a big fan of Moodle, the open source (= free to download and change) learning management system (LMS) which we use in most of the projects we’re involved in. Why? There are good reasons why it is the most popular LMS globally. It is really easy to use and has a wide range of collaboration, individual activity and resource support tools embedded. Advanced monitoring tools allow for reporting and tailored learner support. It’s doing all these things really well and it’s free. “Free” as in “free puppy” because you still need to look after it, but that’s much cheaper than having to pay all sorts of fees for typical propriety software.
But that’s not it. I LOVE it most because it’s linear.
Most other LMSs are “boxed”. Usually content is the first box, which shows these LMSs have not been designed by educationists. Content should be there to support a learning activity. Very often activities become add-ons because instructional designers are pushed by the LMS to approach it that way. These boxed interfaces are un-natural. We don’t think/learn like this – why is it designed that way?
Compare this to the Moodle interface. It’s linear so we can design the guidance around a “learning journey”. We can create a real flow. The activities move centre stage and everything else serves to support what the learners need to be able to DO. It allows for a clear and straightforward “pull” model.
This interface is exactly what we need when we design asynchronous problem-based collaborative eWorkshops. The same activities with the same content in a boxed LMS would not create the buzz you get in a well-designed and facilitated e-workshop using a Moodle interface.
To make it work we need that flow – just like a good face-to-face workshop – over a longer period of time (our eWorkshops take 5-7 weeks on average). The learning journey is supported visually and that’s so much more learner-friendly.
The techies who write passionately about how to get rid of the “scroll of death” (i.e. a long scroll down the page to find what you are looking for) will be horrified. By the way there is a little tool that helps you manage the long scroll without removing the linearity. That’s all we need.
There is no way we are getting rid of Moodle’s linearity and make it look like other LMSs. It’s just right for us eWorkshop designers.