Teaching Online. Or, How I Love/Hate Moodle.

I’ve started teaching Business Communications online. It’s my first time doing a lot of things with this course – teaching an upper division class, using Moodle, teaching online at CBU. Like any new course, I’ve already encountered a few bumps. For example, my training (which was minimal) explained that a Q&A forum would work well for my needs. However, I didn’t fully appreciate how it worked, so when my students went to post the first day nothing worked.

Justifiably, they panicked. I can imagine that I would freak out and think “What did I do funnywrong? What’s going on? Ack!” So, I went through the whole website and fixed the forums. I missed one forum and messed up a due date. There are so many bits and pieces to track.

Of course, in a face-to-face course, it’s easier to manage these missteps. A brief conversation with the class can clear up any issues. However, in an online course, the mistakes are permanent. A forum post and a couple responses by students show my errors. What’s more, is I feel these errors more acutely; my students depend on me to deliver clear directions. I can’t screw this up.

I hate working with Moodle. I’m not alone in this. There’s a sad subreddit entitled, moodleproblems. The interface is clunky. I have no control over how it looks. I hate how much I have to click through stuff to get to the menus I need. The gradebook is awful. No seriously, the gradebook is unnecessarily complex.

And yet, Moodle is open source. It’s not the evil empire that is Blackboard. This article in InsideHigherEd shows that Moodle is king in the sub-2500 student market.

I want more power in how my course looks and how I organize materials. Ideally, my Moodle course would look a lot like this website. I would like to separate support materials from lessons. I would like Moodle to tell me when I’ve read a student’s post or not.

In other words, I’m learning to love Moodle.

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