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Installing and Managing Moodle (E-Learning & Course Management System)

According to Wikipedia, Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is an open source e-learning software platform, also known as a Course Management System, Learning Management System, or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Moodle is an easy to install software. At the time of this writing, the stable version of Moodle is 2.2.

Pre-requisites

In order to prepare our server for installing Moodle, we need to install PHP 5.3.2 or higher, a database server (you can choose between MySQL 5.0.25 and Postgres 8.3) and a Web server. You can also use software package of WAMP on Windows, LAMP on Linux or MAMP on Mac. These software packages contain all the necessary software for installing Moodle and help you in case you don’t want to install the PHP, MySQL and Apache Web server one by one. There is also some Moodle VM appliances are available to download; the only trade-off is that you might not be able to find the latest version of Moodle always. Another way to get advantage of latest version is to install a Linux VM and then install the latest version of Moodle on top of that.

 

Installation

1 – Create an empty database for Moodle

2 – Create a data directory for Moodle with write access

3 – Extract the downloaded Moodle archive into the root of your Web server e.g., in htdocs

4 – Open up a browser and point it to http://localhost/install.php to initialize the installer. Installer is pretty handy and it leads you through initial configuration step by step. It will also populate our database for Moodle.

Now we have done installing Moodle, we will have a quick look on how to manage our Moodle site.

Running Moodle

Moodle supports different management roles, which can set up with fine-grained permissions allowing each role to do specific tasks. If you log in as an Administrator, you have full access to every feature of the Moodle system. Administrator can set up the permissions for individual users e.g. Administrator can set the permissions for Manager role for individual users to restrict different features. A few sysadmin items must be configured by whoever is responsible of

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those sorts of things—for example:

 

Authentication: Moodle saves all the user login information in its

own stand-alone database to make things more independent. So on one way it gives the facility without changing already established infrastructure and on another it doesn’t let you integrate it as part of the existing infrastructure. Thankfully, Moodle has extensive support for external authentication, and some of those things can be configured with minimal knowledge of the network. For example, Moodle supports authentication from IMAP or POP3 servers. That means any user with a valid e-mail account can log in to your Moodle server. Moodle also supports more complex authentication schemes like LDAP, and in Linux, it even supports PAM authentication from the local server.

 

Course Management

Administrator can create different courses. Only those managers can create the courses who have permissions to do so. Once you create the course, it can be assigned to an instructor who can then be moderate the course, configure it according to his preferences. An instructor is also able to create and populate course content, can change layouts and so on. Instructors manage how users can be enrolled into the courses for example by adding them manually, or by giving them a code which enables them to join the course. Instructor can also configure its access for a fee using PayPal payment.

System Management

Admins can manage their Moodle

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server and can perform system backups, performance evaluation and tweaking the performance. Security settings and other server-related tasks can also be performed by System Administrators. Some of these roles can be assigned to manager accounts, but at some point, the server maintenance leaves the realm of Moodle administration and enters the domain of the IT department. This responsibility line obviously will be different for every case. It’s possible for Moodle to be centrally administered and accessed over the Internet for multiple locations. It’s just as possible for teachers to run Moodle on their classroom workstations and administer it for their single class. The important thing is to determine in advance who will be in charge of what aspects of administration.

 

Plug-ins

As Moodle is open source software, a huge community of Moodle users is providing plugins, pre-packaged assignment modules, themes and countless other enhancements for Moodle. Here are some great on-line resources for teachers as well as for Sys Admins interested in implementing and enhancing Moodle. Moodle Docs (http://docs.moodle.org), this Moodle-hosted wiki is a collaborative effort to document every aspect of using Moodle. Whether you’re an administrator trying to configure a secure install or a teacher trying to add a quiz to your course, the Moodle Docs site is invaluable. Moodle Plugins (http://moodle.org/plugins): Moodle offers an extensive number of features in the standard install, but it also allows for third party plugins to enhance courses. The official repository for plugins is hosted on the Moodle.org Web site. You can find pre-packaged assignments, alternate course layouts, visual themes and additional blocks to customize your Moodle site or individual course. Once you become a Moodle user, you may want to contribute

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back to the community as well. Course Exchange (http://moodle.org/course/view.php?id=15): many Web sites share complete Moodle courses, but this particular exchange is hosted on the Moodle.org servers. There are direct links to downloadable courses and lists of Web sites offering courses to download. In true “eat your own dog food” style, the Course Exchange is actually a Moodle course open for enrolment. You can enrol and participate in the Exchange.

 

Moodle Share

(http://www.moodleshare.org): this third-party Web site offers an extensive selection of courses available for download. Many of the courses were designed by Minnesota District 287, using funding from ARRA Grant Funds. Hats off to District 287 for sharing its

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resources! (Figure 8 shows a freely available lesson from Moodle Share.)

 

 

 

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