From Website to Moodle in a Blended Learning Context

From Website to Moodle in a Blended Learning Context

Lillian Buus (Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)
DOI: 10.4018/IJWLTT.2016010104
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This paper presents findings collected from a collaborative implementation project established in Spring 2008 between Aalborg University's IT-department in the Faculty of Social Science (FSS) and the E-Learning Cooperation Unit (ELSA) with the view to implement Moodle in FSS. The purpose of this cooperation was conceived from an organisational desire to establish a virtual learning environment (VLE), where it was possible, to build activities and underpin the pedagogical approach. Another perspective was to further improve the communication between the administration, teachers and students. This paper will highlight the development process and some of the didactic considerations undertaken for the implementation. The evaluations undertaken during the process will also be presented, along with the results collected in the use of Moodle to highlight the educational changes.
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Back in 2008 interest was evolving at the Faculty of Social Science (FSS) at Aalborg University (AAU) on how to provide a more collaborative experience for students and also provide teachers with the opportunity to introduce different degrees of interaction in their teaching by using a learning management system (LMS). This was the starting point for implementation of the learning management system (LMS) named Moodle1 at FSS. Following the teachers expression of interest to have the possibility to integrate more interaction among students into the lectures; such interaction among the students being in the form of dialogue and collaboration building on activities posted in the virtual learning environment (VLE) (wiki, glossary, forums, etc.), and also collaboration between the students in a more general manner (Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld, 2002; Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld & Buus, 2003). This interaction would also underpin the pedagogical approach at AAU - Problem Oriented and Problem Based Learning ((PO)PBL) (Barge, 2010; Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld, 2002; Kolmos, 2009, 2009). At the same time, the University’s management stipulated as their objectives for 2009-2011 “Developing problem based learning in relation to ICT and e-learning in relation to inter-disciplinary activities (Gylstorff et al., 2009, p. 1).

For the project pilot, it was decided to start with a small study program, which was comprised of a total of 17 students, one secretary and only a couple of teachers. FSS had already introduced educational practice and experiences from another LMS2 and the pilot program initially worked on transforming and implementing their approach to blended learning into the Moodle environment taking into consideration the differences in the two programs. The faculty asked the E-learning Cooperative Unit (ELSA) to be involved in the pilot project. Thus on this small scale the study program was implementing Moodle as the e-learning platform and they tried out some of the features Moodle offered during the period of one course3.

Following the initial pilot project FSS asked ELSA to continue by designing and developing a structure for the implementation of Moodle for their 1st and 2nd semester study program (Entry Term) with potentially 900 students. This project should also contain a plan for teacher training in the use of and possibilities in Moodle together with training for secretaries for their work in the VLE. Furthermore this should be the foundation for implementing Moodle throughout all of FSS. Students then would become familiar with the VLE upon entering the university and have it as a common platform throughout their studies for activities, material and communication on course matters.

From a research perspective this therefore became a project dealing with perspectives on: “How can we design and accomplish an implementation process for implementing a VLE at the Faculty of Social Science?” The design needs to take into account the pedagogical approach at AAU, where the pedagogical approach are dealing with problem-based learning (PBL) (Barge, 2010; Busk Kofoed & Hansen, 2004; Kolmos & Graaff, 2003). Furthermore the implementation of the VLE must provide a better opportunity for collaboration and sharing both between teachers and students but also among students in general, and taking into account the possibility to use a blended learning approach and build more on online activities (Savin-Baden, 2008; Savin-Baden & Wilkie, 2006; Walker, 2014; Weller, 2007).

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