Moodle is designed and developed to be a platform established on a “social constructionist pedagogy” (Moodle, 2012). Social constructionism is a theory that “implies that learning is particularly effective when the subject builds (constructs) something for others to experience” (Lytras & Naeve, 2007). As the only specific element of the META e-Learning framework, Moodle has been chosen for being Open Source Software, which means that the platform is developed and extended upon regularly, the impact being evident in the plugins and modules provided. Moodle provides the opportunity for teachers to create interactive lessons and for learners to construct new knowledge and skills throughout these interactions, thus enabling learners to be more in control of their own learning as well as motivating active participation. Resources in Moodle are about delivering content, such as pages and files, however, activities in Moodle are higher order as they require students to reflect on and apply their learning. The flexibility with which these resource and activity plugins can be positioned and customised empowers learning designers to meet specific teaching and learning needs.
Moodle.org is the home of all Moodle documentation and support and within this website a directory of plugins, which are added to Moodle modules for extending the open source software beyond its original configuration. Figure 1 is the directory and details a range of modules within Moodle and potential e-learning experiences that can be extended through the integration of these plugins. Modules such as the gradebook allow students to access their assessment results, extending the timely feedback they receive on their learning throughout their courses. A variety of course formats and structure or layout plugins provided in the directory extend the instructional design possibilities of a Moodle course and the numerous activity plugins facilitate incredible interactivity with information and course materials.
In 2010, the Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers was developed by educational technologist Joyce Seitzinger to “compare the functionality and pedagogical advantages of some standard Moodle tools” (Seitzinger, 2010). The tool guide has been utilised by educational institutions all over the world, redesigned and redeveloped and even translated into other languages. It also shows that these Moodle modules help extend e-learning beyond simply using technology for information transfer to assessing student learning, facilitating communication, collaboration and the creation of content. Additionally, the Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers also details how Moodle facilitates higher order thinking, according to Bloom’s taxonomy providing more articulate explanation of how to extend an e-learning experience with Moodle.
At Macquarie University, Moodle was being newly integrated in early 2012 and many academic course conveners moved beyond the course being a file repository to it being an experience where students engage in forum discussions with their peers; participate in online quizzes for the purpose of self-assessment and formal formative assessment; and, facilitate students’ application of new knowledge in the development of wiki pages. Academics extended their own e-learning experiences in workshops to learn the skills to create courses, resources and activities in Moodle.
In workshops, academics worked on designing teaching and learning materials that their students would engage with in the upcoming semester. Through their engagement in these workshops, which gave the academics a student experience, they learned how to design and develop Moodle courses, and gained a new insight into e-learning and constructing e-learning activities that other learners would also experience and continue to learn from.