Moodle for Efficient Teaching and Learning in Afghan Education Institutes
Private and public institutions in Afghanistan can benefit greatly from Moodle, an open source Course Management System (CMS)
The concept of Course Management System (CMS) is either not known or very new in education institutes in Afghanistan. For example, the student teacher interaction in education institutes happens in its traditional manner, in other words the interaction is limited to class time; outside the class interaction either does not exist or is very limited. Exam marks are announced publicly through the notice board of the college, course contents such as reading materials, power point slides and assignments are shared in printed version or via email and USB flash disk and students submit their assignments in printed version and or through a USB flash drive.
Looking at the growing number of education institutes and colleges in the country, quality of teaching and learning, and services offered are becoming important components of competition in the market. A course management system in this case will not only help enhance delivery of education but also add to the quality of services offered by an institute. For example, students will have direct access to course contents from anywhere, they can submit assignments or take a test online or have interaction with their classmates and the course instructor. In addition, an institute can financially benefit as a result of reduction in expenses spent for printing of materials and staffing hours.
In this article I focus on Moodle (acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment), an open source solution that has been tested and used by hundreds of schools, colleges, universities and private and public businesses worldwide. Moodle is designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalized learning environments. Institutes can benefit to a great extent from the features offered through Moodle; these features are described in brief in this article.
1. Supports Teaching and Learning:
Moodle delivers a powerful set of learner-centric tools and collaborative learning environments that empower both teaching and learning.
2. Easy to use
A simple interface, drag-and-drop features, and well-documented resources along with ongoing usability improvements make Moodle easy to learn and use.
3. No Licensing Fee
There is no fee attached to getting Moodle's source code for customization, it is available for free as Open Source software, under the GNU General Public License. Institutes can easily customize Moodle based on their needs without bearing additional costs.
4. Solution For Online Courses:
Moodle can be configured to support both blended and 100% online courses in an institute, For example forums, wikis, chats and blogs are the most favored tools for collaboration between teacher and students.
Moodle is scalable for institutes and organizations with students or users ranging from few to millions in number. Moodle is being adopted different organizations such as Shell, London School of Economics, State University of New York, Microsoft and the Open University.
6. Security and Privacy:
Data security and user privacy have been given high priority by the Moodle developers in the development process to protect against unauthorized access, data loss, and misuse. of Moodle by its developers. Institutes can install Moodle on a private secure cloud or a local server for complete control.
Moodle is accessible through a web based platform from anywhere using a computer or a mobile device.
8. Support Community:
Moodle is supported by an international community of fully dedicated developers and certified Moodle partners. The large support community has helped greatly to release bug fixes and improvements in timely manner.
JS Consultancy Services deployed Moodle at National Institute of Management and Administration (NIMA) in Afghanistan in 2014, which resulted in increased efficiency in teaching and learning. While teachers found Moodle challenging at beginning, later on the learning and adaptation curve has increased. Teachers found it very useful and less time consuming when sharing course materials with the students, interacting with the students via forums and chats and announcing grades on time without posting them on the wall publicly. In addition, reusability of courses created once and used in the upcoming semester was favored by many instructors, this resulted in saving teachers a great amount of time and avoided developing the same course contents from scratch.
On the other hand students now have timely access to their course grades, assignments, quizzes, tests and course contents. Also, students can easily interact with other classmates via chat or forums and email directly their course instructor from anywhere. In the initial phase Moodle was configured on a cloud server due to backup electricity power and network security problems. As the institute improved the physical network structure the server was migrated to a local system that's now part of IT system.
Private and public education institutes have an excellent opportunity in hand to adopt Moodle in their academic system to improve quality of teaching and learning. Institutes taking on this opportunity early on will greatly benefit financially as well.
By adopting Moodle institutes can reduce the following expenses:
Printing of course materials (This varies based on the number of students in a institutes)
Teacher hours spent for preparing course contents including assignments and tests
Teacher hours spent in keeping the records on person computers
Staff hours in data entry and record keeping for each course and results announcements
Universities and schools around the world financially benefited from implementation of open source solutions such as Moodle, their saving ranged between 24% – 44%. Private universities in Afghanistan can mutually benefit from this opportunity by adopting the open source solution Moodle for course management.