My first few days of learning Moodle were spent viewing videos and walking myself through the steps of building a unit. Understanding the layout of Moodle can be daunting at first. Viewing presentations from our OLTD members on the various tools available in Moodle and how to use them in context of a course were a great help. I found that knowing exactly how you want your students to interact with your course is a prerequisite for a unit build in Moodle. For me, being able to use resources already established was an added gift during the learning process. Having said that, I acknowledge that organizing your course, before embedding it in Moodle, would be the most efficient method to ensure a successful course build.
The most frustration I had with Moodle was trying to make the course look like something it wasn’t. I found the layout sterile and uninviting. Even when I tried to add images with type, it was still not a welcoming site for investigating photography. Even though there were features of Moodle I really liked, for instance, calendar, quizzes, the discussion forum and a wiki within a contained course, the site remained dull and flat in appearance. I see the value in knowing your course is contained in a controlled space, but my teaching style is more flexible with a tendency to switch gears when appropriate learning opportunities arise. Somehow, Moodle does not seem like a fit for changes happening within a course.
After a week of muddling through Moodle, I have an appreciation of the time and effort to build a course and the organization needed before embarking on a course creation. I am most proud that I stuck with Moodle to painfully add each component. There was a sense of accomplishment to admit I was fearful of the encounter but I persevered to the point of recognition that a course construction in Moodle is within my capabilities. My future goal is to return to Moodle and possibly create a mini unit to try out with my students. I would carefully choose the tools in Moodle that would fit my courses’ needs and disregard the ones that don’t. (I can’t ever imagine using the Gradebook when so many other programs are available with much more user-friendly layouts.) Moodle works as a learning management system, but I feel there is more out there in the non-LMS choices that may work just as well, or even better, for my online photography course.