Moodle e Learning Questions and Simple Answers about Online Training


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moodle e-learning questions and simple answers about online training if all the e-learning jargon and choices have you dazed and confused you need to read this book!


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disclaimer this ebook is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute professional business advice it is the reader s responsibility to verify all information independently before making any business decisions penny mondani © 2009 all rights reserved albany analytical inc.


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table of contents i i introduction why moodle 1 open-source vs proprietary 2 little guy vs enterprise 3 web-based vs downloaded 4 pedagogies is that ok to print i styles of teaching styles of learning ii teaching vs tracking ii what about a website 1 do i need my own website 2 hosting ­ what is it and what s included 3 how much will this cost iii what s my next move 1 finding a host or shared site to use 2 designing the training 3 creating the courses 4 enrolling participants iv what will i have to do once the courses are created 1 administering the site making content changes 2 upgrades to moodle backing up files 3 web traffic stats v how do clients find my moodle site 1 using your site for marketing 2 paid online advertising 3 non-web marketing ii in closing iii moodle faq iv basic glossary terms you should know v extended glossary more than you ll ever need to know


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introduction in 2005 i got it into my head that e-learning for my six sigma quality training was just what my business needed it would mean that i wouldn t have to travel every week and i didn t want to miss out on this growing opportunity i learned quickly that i needed an off the shelf software application because the two big name applications that i had inquired about were so big that they wouldn t even give me a quote that s when i really knew what enterprise solution meant i searched the internet and found the perfect software ­ or so i thought it was written by a small software company and the salesman said yes we can do that to every question i asked i also had a beautiful website complete with a shopping cart news section and forum each one having its own login and quirks this site was created by my neighbor also a small business owner he said sure i can help you with this e-learning project five months later i had absolutely nothing to show for my five months or the $7000 in software and web design expenses the software not only did not do what they said it would do it had bugs my webmaster searched sourceforge a site that compares open source software and found moodle at the top of the list it had good reviews had been around for a few years and was stable whatever that means about the same time one of my six sigma clients had just finished her master s thesis on e-learning and sent me a study from humboldt state university comparing a big guy lms to moodle moodle held its own among college students who are a tough crowd and was free again my webmaster said he could install moodle for me and would help me use it he created as a moodle site and set me up with a third website to serve as a catalog of my courses with listings and full descriptions it had a shopping cart and i had access to the content another three months passed and i still had very little to show for all my time and money the pages loaded so slowly i couldn t work i timed out most of the time and this was without any student traffic i needed help learning how to do use several moodle features and my webmaster stopped taking my phone calls finally on a day in february 2006 that seemed very dark at the time but now i know was a great turn in the road for me he screamed at me on the phone and said i was a lousy client he didn t want me for a client any more and it just wasn t worth his time to figure out how to solve my problem i cried for about an hour then i went to and found a moodle partner classroomrevolution who took over my site taught me to use moodle and helped me launch that following june it had taken me eight months to go nowhere it took only four months to go from nothing to a full-service moodle site once i had the right software the right host and the right people involved a few months after the new functional was launched i converted my original business website to a moodle site and made the beelineresults site point to so could keep the domain name but have only two sites to maintain with page 4 of 17


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moodle i didn t need a catalog site and i could access all of my news forums content and everything else as often as i wanted with no hassles all of that functionality was already built into moodle but the original webmaster didn t know that i spent a lot of money with him setting up sites i didn t need and hosting sites that didn t function properly what i got out of it was a learning experience which is what i m passing on to you i want to save you the eight months of falling in a deep hole that i went through why because i believe in karma i ll tell you how to see through the dazzling sales pitches and comprehend the mind-numbing technical jargon i ll help you choose what s right for you not what is easy for your webmaster when you ve got a grip on all of this contact me i ll help you get your moodle site up and running with courses online before you know what happened i ll do all of this because good karma can t be bought it has to be earned best of luck to you penny mondani please visit our moodle sites and see for yourself for complete information on services plans and pricing albany for demo courses in moodle page 5 of 17


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i why moodle moodle is open source software web-based available to the little guy and is built on a solid pedagogy ok so what does all of that mean read on i.1 open source vs proprietary you ve probably heard of free ware and shareware but did you know that the other stuff is called proprietary software i would describe open source software which is what moodle is as free ware that grew up to be someone open source software oss is software that works pretty well has some nice features that a lot of people want or need has a dedicated creator or team of creators and that catches on with others notable open source software includes mozilla firefox java and apache http web server without which you probably wouldn t be reading this anyone can download and use open source software and most importantly for a lot of people the code is accessible proprietary software is owned by someone who charges you to use it they sell you a license for each copy the code is hidden and secret and no amount of hacking and software genius will break into it most of the time there isn t any need to because most proprietary software works really well except for that one i got stuck with back in 05 for proprietary software to be valuable it has to do things that other applications can t do be easy to use and be virtually bug-free it also has to be fool proof for people with next to zero computer skills if moodle is free why am i paying you one common question i get is that if moodle is free why is it going to cost me so much money well moodle is free but learning how to use it and knowing how to create good training can take a long time someone who is proficient in computer applications might get the knack of moodle in a few weeks but that doesn t mean he can design training that won t bore the socks off people lots of really great teachers can t use email let alone figure out how to upload files or create online training courses a few of us have a talent for both computer work and training design albany analytical offers you the opportunity to have an e-learning presence without having to spend months or years learning moodle and the other applications we use to build course objects and no one has ever told us we re boring i.2 little guy vs enterprise ­ why can t i have it all enterprise software can be proprietary or oss or a combination of both this software is for big companies enterprises who have a staff of it people employees or contractors and often their page 6 of 17


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own internal servers and intranet enterprise solutions usually have a core set of code that is customized a lot by programmers over a period of months and installed on the client s servers what i call little guy software is that which is perfect or almost perfect as-is moodle falls into this category it doesn t do everything everyone wants it to do but it does almost everything it can be customized in terms of colors and logos and some layouts the more customized it is the more it costs to install and maintain there are some users who have integrated moodle into their other web applications usually other oss to make the perfect solution for their businesses but that didn t come cheaply this e-book is written for the small business or entrepreneur someone who does not have an it department or a six-figure budget for web services here s a table to help you compare the different types of software you can fill in the blanks for the non-moodle columns i.3 web-based vs downloaded software for authoring or delivery that software that i purchased in 2005 was downloaded and it was supposed to create courses on my pc which could then be uploaded to the web that meant that i could do my work only on the computer where it was installed if you have a web-based application such as moodle you can update your courses from any internet-connected computer in the world of course if you don t have page 7 of 17


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an internet connection you can t do anything i have never found it to be a problem since i do a lot of work off-line text graphics and flash animations are all created offline and then inserted into my moodle courses if you re assuming that a downloaded software or cd is how you want to deliver your training to employees and clients ­ take a deep breath and re-think there is nothing more boring than cd training the internet offers many more learning options and is now used by all sorts of teaching facilities including universities students and teachers can interact with one another and access courses from anywhere besides once you burn a cd or download a file that s it you can t update it without going through the entire process again if your application is web-based any change needs to be made just once on the server and everyone throughout the world sees the update immediately i.4 pedagogies no that isn t a dirty word styles of teaching and styles of learning pedagogy is the field of teaching styles like podiatry is the field of foot medicine when we refer to a particular pedagogy we re usually talking about a method or strategy of teaching here are some you might be familiar with strict elementary school where children are to be seen and not heard teachers rule with an iron fist and a heavy ruler all homework is done individually and being called on to share is a humiliating experience schools where students choose what to study and there are no grades adult training at work where you sit in a room listen to someone drone on about the bullets on the screen but since he s blocking the projector light you can t see the bullets and at the end of the week you take a test your boss assures hr that you went to training and all is good one that you might not be as familiar with at least by name is social constructivism this is the pedagogy that moodle is built around and it basically means that people learn from each other moodle is designed to enable peer interaction in any course the teacher/creator has options to allow students to collaborate on assignments or insist they do so tests can be designed like closed-book tests or open-book tests with any number of options for feedback and second chances built into moodle are limitless forums and chats which can be open to everyone or restricted to particular groups even the user profile offers students the opportunity to share personal background information such as hobbies and experiences if they want as well as contact settings from hide me to here s how to reach me day and night adults have been shown to learn better in a collaborative social constructivist environment than in a closed strict manner i ll let you find the supportive research if you want but we all know it s true teaching vs tracking moodle is designed for learning not all learning management systems lms are many enterprise applications focus on tracking and reporting big companies want to say we sent 1000 people to training and the average grade on the test was 85 so give us our certification while moodle can track and report student activities and grades its primary focus is on learning this is where moodle developers focus their programming time and this is moodle s outstanding strength page 8 of 17


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ii what about a website like a box of chocolates the choice of whether to have your own site or not is a matter of personal choice but you should know what s in the center before you bite in ii.1 do i need my own website your own site will be up and running before you know it so time isn t usually a factor it isn t that much more expensive to have your own site either the factors you do need to consider include · how many courses you will have to start with and how many next year · how many users will you have to start with and how many next year · do you want to offer options for enrollments and account creation · do you have what you need for the administration of your own site such as a paypaltm account for your business the ability to answer a whole bunch of questions about all types of settings · is search engine optimization seo an integral part of your marketing plan if so do you have marketing copy to use on your home page content about us contact us etc · do you want a branded site if yes do you have what you need a logo with or without tag lines a color theme a domain name at least one in mind we can register them for you with your own site you ll get · unlimited moodle courses · up to 500 users with the cheapest hosting plan having more users is still quite affordable · your own theme on the home page category and course themes if you desire · multiple options to create user accounts and enroll students · site agreements where users click i agree so they can proceed · albany analytical s incredibly valuable expertise on training design course design and plain old advice on everything with a shared site you ll get all the same great course creation talent we offer to everyone plus the richness of moodle but there are restrictions on users and enrollments what determines whether you need your own site or not is how ready you are to start and how big you expect to grow in the short term a word on customization moodle is essentially a template just like those build your own website templates you may have used the layout of the objects on the screen is largely fixed and you can add text pictures and other media into them sometimes you can move the objects around on the screens page 9 of 17


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· · for a very small price you can have a moodle partner create a theme for you that does not change the basic layout but gives you a branded look colors and logos for a bigger price you can have a moodle partner design a theme for you that changes the basic layout while retaining all moodle features if you want a totally customized lms prepare to spend considerably more and refer back to the discussion of enterprise software ii.2 hosting ­ what is it and what is included if you decide to have your own moodle site you should get a moodle partner for a host unless you have big bucks to spend on a webmaster and host who will dedicate his attentions to you moodle partners are knowledgeable about moodle upgrades fixes options and they will keep your moodle installation software current and running smoothly another consideration a typical commercial web host has 200 1000 sites on one server the same size server with a moodle host would typically have only 20 moodle sites this is important because moodle is interactive users take up more memory than web-surfers on a static site remember my story about the first web host i had for moodle don t make the same mistake ii.3 how much will this cost classroomrevolution my moodle host has annual hosting plans starting at around $800 that plan allows you to have up to 500 asynchronous users your own theme and unlimited moodle courses there are moodle partners around the world who will provide you with hosting at comparable costs find one near you albany analytical has a start-up offer for first time moodlers for your first course sharing our site for $1000 this plan allows you to test the waters before you get your own moodle site course development fees for more courses or courses on your own site can be found at for more on options and pricing visit page 10 of 17


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iii what s my next move now that you have decided on moodle you have some decisions to make iii.1 finding a host or shared site you need look no further a moodle partner will host your site if you want your own if you want to start out with one or a few courses on a shared site albany analytical has a plan for you iii.2 designing the training this is one of the services provided by albany analytical we are experts in teaching and learning we ll help you determine the structure of categories and courses iii.3 creating the courses albany analytical is highly proficient at creating moodle courses that support learning objectives we design create and upload pictures graphics flash objects all those pieces that make a moodle course fun and interesting we offer writing research and editing services along with our training expertise to ensure that your moodle courses are a fantastic learning experience for your clients and employees iii.4 enrolling participants moodle has several methods to create user accounts name password other information and enroll payment key code other access students in courses if you have your own site you can have as many of these methods available as you wish there are some restrictions to user accounts and enrollments on shared sites the most important thing for you to do now is to market your courses and get those users knocking on the door for a sample of what your courses could look like visit page 11 of 17


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iv iv.1 what will i have to do once the courses are created once your courses are created and you have students online you ll want to sit back and rejoice ­ for a day or two then you ll need to think about on-going administration and future courses administering the site making content changes you can learn to administer your site yourself ­ set up enrollments download reports add or change moodle courses ­ by engaging a moodle partner to train you or signing up for their technical support plan for content changes albany analytical is available to do this for you iv.2 upgrades to moodle backing up files with a moodle partner as your host you don t have to worry about these things that s what they do iv.3 web traffic stats you ll want to track your web statistics ­ how many people come to your site and from where what they click on when they get there how long they stay how many sign up for a course etc this information can be obtained by your webmaster or you can do it yourself with just a little instruction course statistics student grades assignments time they spent within moodle are easy to obtain and not the same thing as the web traffic statistics page 12 of 17


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v v.1 how do clients find my moodle site as wonderful as moodle is and as interesting and useful as your courses are sure to be you have to let potential students know about them using your site for marketing the content management system cms component of your moodle site ­ those boxes on the home page and the pages linked from them ­ are completely accessible to search engines if you want them to be in addition all of your moodle content even that within the courses can be accessible to google if you want you can use the cms part of your site with no extra charge to optimize your site for search engine ranking please find an seo expert read a book about it and/or research it online it s how people find you in the vastness of the internet you can also have forum and news items on your moodle site that are visible to the public and to search engines you can send out emails linking to the news items as well i am not an expert in internet marketing and neither are many of the people who claim to be i recommend that you search the following key words internet marketing seo search engine optimization web marketing read about these concepts in and and then study the sites of the experts carefully if you understand what they re talking about and you like the way their sites look not too cheesy not too techie give their techniques a try or simply try optimization tactics on your own for a couple of months to get the feel of it v.2 paid online advertising you can place ads on other websites you ve seen those banner ads on many websites i m sure these ads can be very pricey but they have large audiences professional sites for your industry are not a bad place to start for example if your moodle site trains restaurant service personnel you could place a banner ad on the national restaurant association website but these ads are a double-edged sword your name is right there with your competitors which means their name is right there with yours your ad has to be snazzy enough to make visitors go to your site instead of to the competition you can also pay to show up on search engine pages google adwords is a great thing if you pay close attention i wasted almost $500 once when i forgot about an ad campaign that was running and i had moved the linked web pages all people got when they clicked on my ad was the dreaded error 404 not found that is not cool v.3 non-web marketing there are many other methods to make potential clients aware of your moodle training site including flyers sent to your existing clients or handed out at trade-shows ads in printed publications and/or speaking engagements and traditional training workshops you can even combine your face-to-face f2f training with moodle to offer your clients blended learning not only is it a better way to teach but you have the opportunity to introduce your existing clients to your new product ­ moodle elearning page 13 of 17


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don t make the same mistake i did in thinking that all of your existing clients will become your new moodle clients chances are that most of the clients who attended your workshops or bought your books are not the same type of people to embrace e-learning when i started out in 2005 i had one client tell me that e-learning was a nice idea but he couldn t see any possible application for it as time goes by this will become a smaller problem but you should still be prepared for the idea that your moodle clients will be a totally different group of people than your existing network in closing over the last couple of years i ve heard the bewilderment in your voices and the silence that comes from not knowing enough to ask a question i ve been there myself i believe there are a lot of people out there who want to have a website and offer e-learning to their clients or employees but just don t know where to start i hope this e-book helps you find your way and i hope to hear from you soon my very best to you penny moodle faq is moodle just for training do i need a second website for my company to have a web presence no moodle is more than just training moodle sites have content management systems cms built-in to them so that you can have the standard web pages and menus such as about us contact us descriptions of your courses news items etc the cms on moodle is better than anything else we ve tried does moodle have a shopping cart no this is one thing that moodle does not support yet we presume because shopping carts are not important in the learning process after all moodle is a learning management system however if you have books or other materials that you sell as part of your training you can include them as downloads in each course you can create courses that require payment to enter and the only content is your material for download if you have a large volume of book dvd etc sales you might consider opening up a store front on a third party seller like they do a great job at order fulfillment can moodle accept credit card payments yes moodle has plug-ins that support paypaltm and is moodle scorm-compliant and what does that mean anyway yes moodle is scormcompliant this makes it easy to dump your existing program and switch to moodle see the extended glossary for the definition of scorm for more moodle faq visit page 14 of 17


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basic glossary terms you should know cms acronym for content management system which is any computer application used to store sort and retrieve data there are many web-based cms applications which are software designed to simplify the process of adding content text pictures and other media to websites moodle has a cms that is an easy-to-use authoring tool and takes no special programming knowledge e-learning electronic learning which has evolved to imply internet-based knowledge transfer which is interactive adaptable to many environments and continuously updated early e-learning was cd-rom based which was neither dynamic nor continuously updated most current e-learning is built in an environment for learning with peer discussions forums chats and other interpersonal features it is often referred to as a virtual classroom forum online discussion board used to share team notes capture employee comments or to disseminate information forums are open to any number of people to start or add to discussion threads and can have a range of accessibility from open to all to very private host these are the people who set up your website and maintain the server computer and the software that operates your site they make sure updates are made and that the software is bug free they make sure site files are backed up in case of computer failure or natural disaster they install plug-ins and make changes to some site settings to make it run better they have access to the cpanel and the raw code your webmaster might also be your host html acronym for hypertext markup language this is the language that takes your .php files and turns them into formatted web pages html is the language that moodle content pages are written in lms acronym for learning management system an lms is a set of software codes usually in an online application for building e-learning objects course material forums chats quizzes etc and tracking student results moodle a course management system that was designed to create online training elearning moodle has built-in features that promote learning such as peer interaction forums glossaries quizzes and many other ways in which students and teachers can interact with each other moodle is a full-featured learning management system lms built on strong pedagogical principles the software is used all over the world by universities schools companies and independent teachers moodle is open source and completely free to use it is always being improved by the moodle developers in response to moodle community feedback moodle content development a service offered by albany analytical in conjunction with or any certified moodle partner where we design create and upload your content into an attractive and highly effective moodle course or site moodle hosting provided by moodle partners where moodle is installed and maintained for you in a fully serviced and secure environment moodle server moodle partner a group of service companies guided by the core developers of moodle open source software oss software that allows access to the code thereby allowing anyone to use change and improve the software and to redistribute it in modified or page 15 of 17



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