Time to bid farewell to ILN and welcome Moodle


Moodle HKSYU

Shue Yan’s interactive on-line learning platform, the ILN, was introduced in 2003. Having used it for eight years, it is time to say goodbye to ILN and welcome Moodle.

The word Moodle is an acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. According to moodle.org, “moodle” is also a verb that describes the process of lazily meandering through something, doing things as it occurs to you to do them, an enjoyable tinkering that often leads to insight and creativity. As such it applies both to the way Moodle was developed, and to the way a student or teacher might approach studying or teaching an online course.

Moodle, developed by Australian Martin Dougiamas, is a set of ‘open-source community-based tools for learning’, a ‘course management system’ and a ‘virtual learning system.’ It provides a virtual learning environment which enables the university, teachers and students to communicate with each other through a user-friendly platform. Moodle is used by numerous education institutions and universities world-wide. According to Moodle’s statistics, at the end of September 2010, there were a total of 50,049 registered Moodle sites in 211 countries and regions. In Hong Kong, there are 99 registered sites.

Moodle has a number of significant advantages over ILN. First of all, Moodle is an open-source web-based software, which means that anyone who has access to the internet can help to develop it. The quicker rate of updates and the faster pace of development make Moodle more suitable for the rapidly evolving cyber environment. Moreover, due to the massive ready-to-use sources on the internet, Moodle is more convenient for future development. Last but not least, Moodle is equipped with more functions that will enrich the variety of activities that can be undertaken online. Some new functions of Moodle include blogs and communities.

Trial run started

According to Dr. Yuen Wai Kee, Chairperson of the university’s IT in Teaching and Learning Committee, who runs Moodle training workshops in Shue Yan, the fact that Moodle is an open source environment allows Shue Yan to develop the interface and functions based on our specific needs. By using Moodle, teachers and students can communicate with each other more easily and in more innovative ways. For example, blogs and communities allow teachers to connect with students in a more casual way which, hopefully, could enhance staff-student relations and improve the learning environment.

Asked why the university had decided to stop using ILN, Dr Yuen explained that ILN was originally developed and supported by the Centre for Information Technology in Education (CITE) of the University of Hong Kong. However, CITE will no longer support the use of ILN and this would create difficulties for Shue Yan University if we wished to continue to use the ILN system in the longer term. So we needed to find a replacement and a new virtual learning system that can keep pace with the fast changing technology and internet world. Based on the suggestions given by CITE, we decided to adopt Moodle.

Time is needed for adaptation; therefore there will be beta time for Moodle.  The university has started its trial run and testing since the start of the first semester of the 2010-2011 academic year. Teachers and students can start using Moodle now and figure out how it functions and how best to use it to meet their teaching and learning needs.

“Starting from the second semester, Moodle and ILN will be used at the same time. We hope that both teachers and students can get used to the new system while having the old ILN system as a back up. Workshops on how to use Moodle have been provided to teachers.” Dr Yuen said.

Dr Yuen and the IT department have received some feedback from teaching staff about using Moodle. Some teachers have commented on Moodle’s interface, saying that it looks better than ILN and that the new system has more functions.

Dr Yuen

Dr Yuen Wai Kee said: “It’s time to bid farewell to ILN and welcome Moodle.”

Server upgrade

To ensure the smooth operation of Moodle, the university has also upgraded the dedicated server. The new server, equipped with more memory, allows more connections at the same time, unlike the old server which could crash if too many connections were made. Also the IT department said that they will fine-tune Moodle according to the feedback received during the beta stage to make sure that Moodle would function effectively and cater for the needs of teachers and students.

Although adapting to a new system is not always easy, Moodle is the new system that students should get familiar with. “Students and teachers disliked ILN when we first adopted it,” said Dr Yuen, “but now they start missing it.”

“In order to keep pace to the changing environment, we have to adapt to new technology, and the adoption of Moodle is a good example . I’m pretty sure everyone will like Moodle. The reasons for transferring from ILN to Moodle may not be important, but the result of using Moodle is the most important part. Without new updates and developments, ILN would no longer be able to meet our needs. It’s time to bid farewell to ILN and welcome Moodle.”

From: October Issue 2010

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