I’ve been hard at work creating Moodle materials. One thing that really stands out is just how powerful the program really is. The answer to just about every question about Moodle begins the same, “well, there are several ways to accomplish that”. Or “it really depends on what you want to do”.
Take for example the Lesson module. The Lesson module is a wonderful, powerful tool. Lesson allows the creator (usually the teacher) to create multiple pathways for students to follow. This means that the teacher can have students read a selection, and then answer a question. Based upon the answer to that question, the student could move to a page which would continue the lesson or be redirected to a page that would provide more background knowledge about the issue. Additionally, these questions can be automatically added to the gradebook. Or not. “It really depends on what you want to do”. In fact, when you are setting up a Lesson, the default will add an entry to the gradebook. But this might not be what the teacher wants to happen. In my experience, most teachers don’t use the adaptive nature of the Lesson module, they tend to provide a straight line for the students to work through. Lesson can be great for that too. Here, “it depends on what you want to accomplish”.
In general, I think that is a real strength of Moodle. The power to allow almost anything to happen means that different teachers can use the program in different ways. It means that more goals can be accomplished. It means that teachers are not limited as much by the program. However, it also means that the program can be complex. It means a commitment to learning how to use the program (and more so, how to use it well). Teachers already have a lot to learn. Teachers don’t have spare time on their hands to invest in learning how to accomplish things through Moodle. This is especially true if they consider what they are currently doing to be “effective enough”.
I hope that Moodle continues along it current trajectory of making things better looking and more user friendly without sacrificing the power that lies behind the curtain.