Why use Moodle?

Moodle could be your classroom on the internet. But why should you use Moodle to create your virtual classroom?

Asking what Moodle can do is the wrong question. The right questions are:

  • Which parts of my teaching do I want to improve?
  • How can I be more effective as a teacher?

I currently teach English in China to over 350 students organised into 8 classes and I see them 3 times in two weeks. Some things I wanted to improve:

  • Initial assessment of student ability as individuals and as a class
  • Monitoring of student progress
  • Setting and marking of homework to ensure students maintained good study habits
  • Avoiding total reliance on an end of semester exam

All of these are standard for any teacher and are usually done on paper. However with nearly 60 students in a class marking of student work is onerous and time consuming. Even printing test paper and other resources is difficult – at even 1 page of handout per student per class, I would be printing a 500 page box of paper every week.

What I needed was a low cost way of presenting material and assessing students. It should allow me to base questions on paragraphs of text and avoid the tedium of marking hundreds of submissions each week.

Moodle was the answer for me. My initial use of it was to set and mark homework. In my first semester, I set 10 – 20 questions per week for students to complete outside class and allowed students to repeat the exercise to improve their mark. Each week over 5000 questions had been marked and over the semester, close to 100 000 questions were set, marked and a grade assigned to students. Each homework assignment was marked within seconds and the reasons why it was wrong could be explained to a student.

It was a work load I couldn’t have done manually. I had less than 1 out of 100 students who didn’t complete the majority of the homework and many did the questions over and over to get a perfect score. Students were largely positive and were proud of their scores.

Each teacher has their own set of problems. If many of your problems are due to providing resource material, assessment and grading, then Moodle may improve your teaching.

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