05/04/2012

Blog 4: Using Moodle in KS2- a cheap alternative to a VLE?

Is Moodle a 'doable' alternative to expensive primary VLEs?  Yes, in my opinion.

Moodle is a free source e-learning platform, which allows users to access all kinds of resources (courses), interact with each other, complete tasks that have been set for them and feedback to tutors.  In principle is sounds very good.

Last year, after viewing a number of VLE demos, including DB Primary and Purple Mash, I was set the challenge of sourcing a free alternative, as neither seemed particularly cost effective to our small school.  I stumbled across Moodle, and it seemed to tick all of the boxes, doing everything DB Primary did at the demo.  Key features are:

  • Individual, secure logins for children and staff
  • Definable roles for admin, staff and pupils
  • Safe peer to peer chatting and messaging service
  • File (any type) uploading and downloading for all users
  • Set up class pages, and pages for other areas of the school (PTA etc.)
  • Create and use quizzes and other activities
  • Staff and children can contribute to a whole school blog
  • Calendar, clearly showing upcoming events
  • A news feed
  • You can integrate other web resources using iframes
  • A lesson planner, allowing you to upload, link and sequence on-line resources
  • And most importantly, it was FREE
Just recapping the features now sounds impressive.

I presented this to my headteacher, who was impressed, so I was given a full day out of class to experiment with themes and set up the site.
Here is the site I set up:  http://www.moodle.kingsmeadowprimary.co.uk

As you can see, it looks ok,

So I trialled it with a small group of Year 6 pupils, and they loved it.  They enjoyed chatting to each other from home, completing activities at home and uploading work.  I then opened it out to the whole class, and they loved it too.

We trialled it with Year 3 pupils, who surprisingly took to it very easily.

Unfortunately it ground to a halt.  This happened for a number of reasons.

  • The formal user interface confused a lot of the children, especially SEN children
  • The rigid structure of a page doesn't allow for much personalisation
  • The speed of the platform when numerous children were using it in school was extremely slow. This ultimately put colleagues off from using it.The username/ password system was too complicated.  passwords must include capital letters, lower case letters, numbers and other characters.  Hard for lower KS2 children to remember.
  • Content- all content needed to be added by yourself, the school.  Overtime this would build up and provide a good bank of quality resources, but the time involved made this difficult.
  • I left the school.
So the Moodle site has been abandoned, which is a shame.  I firmly believe that if I was still at my former school then it'd be going strong (on a better server).

I would like to give it another go, especially if certain aspects are made more child friendly. Also I would improve the server that held the site.  I feel that I got half way there before having to abandon it.   
You may feel that the money you are saving could be better spent elsewhere, however the time it takes to teach yourself how to use it, set it up and then populate it, you may be better off biting the bullet and subscribing to an established platform. 

There are primary schools out there using Moodle successfully. Here are some links:

Also, this company specialises in setting up Moodle Sites for primary schools:

2 comments:

  1. Hi there. I agree with many of your comments - I have seen Moodle used successfully in primary schools and helped others to do it; I think the key is support really - you were fortunate in that you could manage your own server; many primary schools thrive better when Moodle is hosted for them and they just need to focus on the content. With Moodle 2 there are options to make the course pages much more user friendly (and actually even in 1.9 you can remove the password rules - when I begin with Year 5 I give them all 1234 as a password until they choose their own!) What would be nice is if there could be a bank of downloadable primary Moodle courses for schools to benefit from - the education authority I am in did this years ago for 1.9 and I know it got a few primaries started off.

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  2. Thank you for your comment. Excellent. I was disappointed to end my experience so abruptly. It would definitely have been beneficial to me if it was hosted for us, although I did enjoy creating it. I will look into Moodle 2, thanks!

    It is a great alternative VLE in my opinion.

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