Andrew Whitworth and Angela Benson are the authors of Chapter 10, “Learning, Design, and Emergence: Two Case Studies of Moodle in Distance Education,” in the Veletsianos (ed.) book.
As someone who has lived and breathed Moodle, an open source Course Management System [CMS]), for the past five or six years I can fully relate to the level of commitment described in this chapter. CMS decisions should not be made lightly and success depends on an ongoing effort to stay on top of how the system is being used and what needs are emerging.
Some key points:
Open Source has hidden costs
The organizational structure/community values around the use of a CMS are extremely important, .e.g.
– communities of practice can work to promote the values of the organization 🙂
– communities of practice can also be the source of “workarounds” to avoid policy 😦
– Moodle can be used both passively and actively, and can be standardized or customized
Two case studies are described, illustrating different reasons for choosing Moodle and different points on the scale from standardization to individualization. Based on the observation of these two cases, the authors recommend a middle ground.
My opinion is that there are many valid approaches to using a CMS and awareness of your expectations is key. Benefits can be wonderful but nobody should be under the illusion that you can “start the process” and simply leave it to self-manage. Monitoring and fine-tuning will always be necessary. As these authors state, “conscious design” is required.
This is from the “Elizabeth Tweets” series of chapter-by-chapter blog posts related to the new book “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education“, edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version).