As an individual who has taken a variety of courses online and as an Instructor and creator of my own courses, I can say that I am constantly amazed at the advancements that the industry continues to make.
I took my first online course in university, where I studied art and design. At that time, the “course” consisted more or less of just an online reading list and a message board which was used for instructor-student and student-student communication. While the course served its purpose, and I successfully passed with a satisfactory grade, I was unimpressed with the variety of available activities. Ultimately, I thought, I would have preferred to discuss the concepts in-person where interactions with my classmates would have been composed less like essays and more authentically as we try to grasp the information presented by the instructor. Above all, I sympathized with students who struggled and couldn’t participate fully due to their insufficient reading and writing skills.
Throughout the duration of the course, however, I did see the promise that this medium held for future students. Firstly, I could check in and complete the assignments when I had time; a freedom that weekly meetings did not provide. Secondly, I knew that as technology improved, the options for instructors designing online courses would be expanded.
Flash forward to 2014, I found myself delivering training programs overseas to students who were about to join workplaces in Canada. As I traveled from one country to another, I encountered busy professionals struggling to find time to attend in-person classes. I had no doubt that a better system should be created to help both instructors and students deliver and receive instructions freely. The desire to help those individuals succeed without compromising their careers was the spark for my first online course.
Creating the courses was time consuming and consisted primarily of video-recorded lectures and PDFs. As promised, the courses delivered relevant information, and students were not required to attend classes and were able to review materials at their own leisure. However, there was no system for students to apply the concepts they were learning. Additionally, constructive interactions between the instructor (myself) and the students were delayed since they were mostly done by email. Furthermore, with expanded enrollment and the lack of a well-organized system, I struggled to keep up with the courses’ demands, including marking assignment or tracking progress.
All of this changed when I started using Moodle, an open source Learning Management System (LMS) and an industry standard for online learning that is used by the world’s largest universities. As an open source platform, a dedicated group of educators is constantly working to develop new solutions and innovative learning tools, which gives me a peace of mind dealing with a trusted and reliable system. I am now more confident than ever creating, promoting, and delivering online training. Moodle is an extremely flexible and robust system that allows instructors to set up lessons creatively and with innovation.