Documentation:Learning Environment/Campus Faculty Feedback
Campus Faculty Feedback on Learning Environments
We have begun to engage Campus Faculty and has feedback is received it will be added to this page.
- Virtual Learning Environment
Modern universities provide a virtual learning environment (VLE) for their faculty and students as well as for the administration. The common choices in this regard are Moodle and Blackboard. Moodle is an open source development environment and Blackboard is a commercial VLE. When universities make choices regarding their VLE, the choice is between a full-fledged commercial software like Blackboard, which has all the necessary features built-in, or the open-source VLE Moodle. While the open source Moodle VLE is free, it comes with a commitment to development resources to enhance the Moodle platform in order to eventually have the similar functionality than Blackboard. Many universities have opted for Moodle, and at the same time they have also made the decision to develop the platform further by committing significant resources for this purpose. With the choice of Moodle comes also the time for the required functionality.
I believe that at the moment the support at TRU for Moodle platform is limited.
Here are some specific comments about the Blackboard and Moodle environments on the basis of my experience about the use of both VLEs:
The gradebook of Blackboard is easy to set up and easy to understand both by the faculty and students. The Moodle gradebook on the other hand is simplistic and functionality is minimal.
- Portfolio tool
The Blackboard VLE includes a portfolio tool for the purpose to demonstrate the artefacts (learning outcomes like assignments, research papers, digital art, sound files, movies etc.) in a portfolio, which can also be shown to persons and organizations located outside the university. The portfolio tool enables the students to collect these artefacts throughout the studies, and build portfolios for a specific purpose like a job interview. Thus if the interviewer asks that “yes you have a degree, but what is it you can actually do”, answering this question by building a portfolio is relatively easy. The portfolio tool in Moodle is very limited in its functionality and therefore I am not using it.
While both VLEs have a Wiki tool, the fact is that the Blackboard Wiki is far more advanced than the Moodle Wiki. I have been using the Blackboard Wiki tool extensively in the past. Wiki can be regarded to be a virtual collaboration environment, which resembles the way modern organization operate in the current global environment. In addition the use of the Wiki tool enables the monitoring of the individual contribution of each student.
- Integration of the VLE to the student admin system (e.g. Banner)
The Moodle is not currently integrated to the student admin system. I am not sure if the integration is at all possible to Moodle. As a consequence the faculty members have to insist that the students log to Moodle, which has proven to be a slow task. This is particularly critical in the beginning of the semester.
- Integration of the assessment functionality
Program assessment is becoming more and more important for TRU. Being able to conduct program assessment as an integrated feature is in my mind critical for the conduct of efficient program assessment. For that reason choosing Moodle is not the right way to go.
In conclusion Moodle is an information delivery system and not proper VLE and comes with a commitment to resources and development while Blackboard already has the advanced features with no need for further development by the customer.