As the start of the undergraduate academic year looms I’ve been playing around with Moodle – an open-source learning management system (LMS) that will support students I’m tutoring this semester (as well as for other courses). I’ve been pleasantly surprised with its features and hopefully it will allow me (and others) to bring together learning material online in a much more integrated way than in the past. From the blurb on the Moodle web site,
Moodle is a course management system (CMS) – a software package designed to help educators create quality online courses. Such e-learning systems are sometimes also called Learning Management Systems (LMS) or Virtual Learning Environments (VLE). One of the main advantages of Moodle over other systems is a strong grounding in social constructionist pedagogy.
Moodle is free to download, install, modify and use and runs just fine on my iBook (for testing). If your Windows system supports a web server and PHP then you can run it on there too. So if you’re looking for something that can support a group of students, or a wider enterprise, then it may fit the bill for you. I’ll blog again at the end of semester when I’ll be more familiar with it and I’ve seen how it’s held up under the student load.
In the past I’ve installed and used Discusware (both free and pro versions) to support distance student interaction. If you want a purely discussion-based system that has its origins in education then that is useful too.