Dare I admit it? #edmodo #moodle

Source: Leon County Schools Digital Citizenship 101 in Edmodo

Although I have been a long-time Moodle proponent, dare I admit that I'm less than enthused with Moodle 2.x these days? Sure, why not? In a phone conversation with a virtual course developer in a small Texas town, there could be little argument--"Moodle has gotten unnecessarily complicated." I reluctantly agreed.

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A course developer for a large school district, a long-time Moodle user recently wrote the following:
Just out of curiosity, did anyone else think that Moodle 2.3 should have been named 3.0? As far as I can tell, there was no way to upgrade assignment modules. Certificate modules had to be redone. Am I right about that? I had to do a lot of work to get everything working again. I am also becoming discouraged about training teachers to use 2.3. I will continue to use it for creating professional development modules, but for teachers, I am moving to Edmodo unless someone is really serious about course creation.
After reading those remarks, since I've started in a new place (k-12 school district), the question going around in my head is, Should I bother getting people trained in Moodle, when perhaps other solutions may be a bit more friendly, lower to the ground if not as feature-rich, and compatible with mobile devices (e.g. iPads)? The answer is a gut-check, a growing feeling of dis-satisfaction with Moodle, and an experience I didn't anticipate when I started down this road years ago.

Now, don't get me wrong. Moodle continues to be a powerful course management system that in the right hands can change student to student, student to teacher interactions. I'm just not sure that "the right hands" are those of classroom teachers, especially as more mobile devices find their way into schools. There's nothing you can't do in Moodle...it's what you have to jump through to do it. Think of Moodle and Edmodo as MS Office to GoogleDocs.  So, Daniel Rezac, you were right!

This blog series at Onlignment also caught my eye:
Courses have, historically, been what l&d does, perhaps even its raison d’ĂȘtre. And they will continue to play an important role, particularly with novices who ‘don’t know what they don’t know’ and when formal confirmation is required that particular learning objectives have been achieved. Courses may take place in a classroom, online, on-job or by some blend of these, but they all typically have objectives, entry criteria, a curriculum, formal content, tuition and assessment. More often than not they also take place at a predetermined time and are ‘pushed’ at a particular population. All of this structure helps an organisation to make sure that certain key interventions do take place in the intended fashion, but does not guarantee success. 
Today, for example, I asked a colleague about the Digital Citizenship course I'd been working on. The content could be shared in a variety of ways, including the following:
  1. Moodle Course with a quiz
  2. A GoogleSites wiki with GoogleForms Quiz with Flubaroo for self-scoring
  3. Edmodo with a quiz
In the end, the decision was to use Edmodo, even though it's not a course management system. What pushed us over the edge was the fact another school had used Edmodo

Some of the benefits seemed obvious:
  • Edmodo was a tool we were encouraging teachers to use with students already, so why not use this as one more example.
  • Edmodo made it easy to link to content, as well as upload documents.
  • We could create the assignment once, then push it out to multiple "groups." When we updated the original group assignment (the title and description, not the links), the groups' respective copies were updated as well.
  • The quiz would feed grades of the Digital Citizenship quiz to a gradebook, and our plans were to make the campus tech coordinator and administrators "co-teachers."
  • Edmodo's interface is fairly straightforward (looks like Facebook) and we wouldn't have to teach them Moodle, and/or figure out how to do stuff in the new Moodle.
Some of the drawbacks for using Edmodo that I found aggravating:
  • No easy way to re-order content. We were creating individual modules that were numbered. To re-order them or if a mistake was made, we had to delete each module and add it again.
  • Lack of HTML editing; it was simply text editing.
  • Multiple teachers, even if co-teachers, could not edit or load each other's assignments/quizzes. To get around this, we had to create a single user for whom we had to share the password and then both login at the same time to add content.
Of course, a part of these drawbacks comes from the fact that we're trying to use Edmodo for course management, something it wasn't really designed for.

That doesn't stop folks, though, from using it as one as this blog entry shows:
I've set up the entire course in an Edmodo room, in the hopes that my students will develop a vision for using Edmodo in their future classrooms. The functionality of Edmodo lends itself really well to serving as an LMS (Learning Management System). 
I've uploaded all course documents, videos, links, and other resources into folders organized by weekly course topics. I will also be posting weekly discussion questions, polls, and quizzes pertaining to course content that students are expected to respond to and discuss online and in class. Students will submit all assignments through Edmodo, and I'll use Edmodo to maintain student grades as well as our course calendar. 
Collaboration is made easy through Edmodo's small group feature. I am able to create small groups within our Edmodo room for collaborative projects, small group discussions, and focused interactions. I created a rubric to evaluate students' participation through Edmodo, focusing on the quality of their responses, their references to course materials and other sources, and their online interactions with others. 
While the course is a face-to-face course, Edmodo will allow us to work in a blended learning environment, extending our time for interacting with course content and each other.
I'm sure there's a reason for keeping Moodle around. For now, we'll keep trying to fit a square peg into a round hole:

A quick look at the Digital Citizenship course a colleague and I were developing and sharing
with 13 sites.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Unknown said…
I agree, Edmodo is a better platform for both teachers and students. This past year I stopped using Moodle and transitioned to Edmodo. My building technology coordinator had a hard time understanding why. Your post articulates the reasoning well. Thanks!
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the presentation reference - digital citizenship by @Fernandezc4. Edmodo is a great tool for educators and students. The one thing that stands out for me is that Edmodo is not working on things that they think are important, they are truly listening to the users and building/growing based on the users wants and needs.
Chris Craft said…

I think Moodle is losing it's relevance, both due to poor design and also due to the increased prevalance of cloud solutions.

About a year ago, I abandoned Moodle (http://www.crucialthought.com/2011/08/22/abandoning-moodle/). Rather than transition to Edmodo, I made the switch to Haiku.

I had loved Moodle 1.9.x, and when I upgrade to 2.0, I nearly lost it. The design had gotten worse, and it had gotten more difficult to use. So I left.

Haiku is a robust platform that offers many Moodle-like features and it can be free, depending on the features/number of users needed.

As for Edmodo, we're adopting that school-wide this year, after not having a formal LMS solution ever (Moodle was just me, Haiku is just me), so I am curious as to how this will turn out.

Thanks for the thoughts..

Chris Craft

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