The pros and cons of using Moodle

By Sarah Wojcik

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Few know Moodle’s full name: Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment.

Oakland University’s course management system is a source of both convenience and chagrin to students and professors alike.

Some love Moodle.

Shaun Moore, manager of support services at e-Learning and Instructional Support (e-LIS), is passionate about Moodle. His expressive blue eyes light up and his gestures become wide and sweeping when he talks about the system.

When questioned about what he loved most about Moodle, he paused for several moments.

“I love Moodle’s flexibility and the power and creativity it gives to users,” he finally said.

Cornelia Pokrzywa, a special lecturer for the department of writing and rhetoric, relies largely on Moodle for her classes.

“My classes every week have activities on Moodle — online chats, discussion forums, posting resources and links, interactive quizzes, surveys, Wikis. There are a lot of resources you can use on there,” she said.

The discussion forums arguably facilitate everyone having a chance to speak, particularly students who are less vocal in person.

However, other students have different experiences.

Eugene Shin, a communications major, for instance, finds the discussion forums frustrating.

“If you didn’t type fast enough, you would not be able to get your thought across, and if your grade depended on forum participation and the ‘conversation’ is flowing, you will miss out because of the rate of movement from topic to topic,” Shin said.

From initially viewing Moodle as just another attempt to create a social network for students, Shin’s sentiment has changed, however.

“As the semester progressed, I found Moodle to be rather useful because everything you need for assignments, grades and fellow classmates are all conveniently there on Moodle,” he said.

Moodle’s major downfall seems to be human error.

Professors who do not use Moodle can cause annoyance for students who do not want to deal with old fashioned paper syllabi. Poor updating of grades is also misleading. Students not using Moodle can encounter academic problems when it comes to their classes and coursework.

“Things can get lost in the cracks if you’re not on top of it. It really requires a different kind of commitment from the students,” Pokrzywa said.

Marissa Mercadante, a transfer student from OU to CMU and recreational therapy major, prefers CMU’s course management system.

“(Blackboard) is a lot easier to use than Moodle and more reliable. I thought Moodle was really hard to use. I got confused a lot and didn’t like it,” she said.

“For presentation content (Moodle) is kind of boring,” said Garry Gilbert, interim director of the journalism department.

Gilbert is looking into newer “splashier” technology. All professors agree that Moodle is better than Oakland’s old course management system, WebCT, however.

Moore referred to WebCT as a “nightmare to work with compared to Moodle.”

Students and faculty interested in training and workshops with OU web resources, should check out e-Learning and Educational Support, located on the 4th floor of Kresge Library.