Service issues prompt switch to Moodle

Butler University has begun the process of switching to a new online learning management service called Moodle.

Butler has used a service called Blackboard in years past but is now in the process of switching to Moodle. The university’s technology centers encourage faculty members to start switching to Moodle now, though the switch won’t be complete until fall 2013.

Julianne Miranda, senior director for the center for academic technology, said Butler made the decision to switch because Blackboard promised services that did not work and that failed to meet Butler’s requirements. Moodle is free, open-source software that is easier to use.

“As we started to do apples to apples, (Moodle) was clearly the better tool,” Miranda said.

Senior Erica Gilliland tested Moodle at her job in Information Commons. She said that while she has yet to make up her mind, her friends dislike Moodle.

“Most of them had negative feedback because they had a couple of courses that did it as a pilot last year,” Gilliland said. “They were upset Butler went ahead with it.”

But Moodle allows those students to have more control over their learning experience, said Chad Miller, project manager for the Moodle conversion and an Information Technology systems engineer.

“You could improve the experience for yourself,” Miller said. “Instead of just Blackboard being developers, we have everybody who uses it as developers. “

Allowing users total control over their learning experience and offering the product for free is what made Moodle’s business model successful, said Martin Dougiamas, Moodle founder and developer, in an email.

“I hope Moodle’s future improvements just make things better for you guys with an interface that takes less time to do things, works better on mobile and just has less bugs in general,” Dougiamas said.

Moodle’s future at Butler may indicate new avenues in online education at Butler, junior Michelle Trainor said.

“I have heard little inklings about trying to get more online courses, especially over the summer,” said Trainor, who works in Information Commons.

Trainor said four of her credit hours this semester are mostly online, including a one-credit-hour class that is entirely online.

“It’s something different,” Trainor said. “I’m interested in seeing how it works.”

“But personally, I know my time management is going to have to change in order for me to be successful.”

Moodle will become the sole learning management service for Butler when Blackboard’s license expires on June 30, 2013.

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