Moodle. We all know the name. The website we visit more than we text our friends and loved ones. Okay, well maybe not that much, but a fair amount of Eckerd Student time is spent on Moodle turning in assignments, scrambling to find various syllabuses, and just making sure you’re staying afloat.
Between Google Classroom, Canvas, and Moodle, everyone has their fair share of opinions as to which one is the best “classroom management tool.” Personally, I used Canvas in high school, which I liked because of the dashboard you could personalize a rainbow of colors and the to-do list feature that would summarize all of your upcoming assignments.
While discussing online learning, most professors point out the very same features of Canvas, saying it makes grading more efficient. It also has a “turn it in'' feature that allows teachers to easily access stats following their students’ progress and to check for plagiarism. The program also allows professors to attach an online textbook to the course, instead of making their students go to a separate website.
“Moodle is outdated,” First year biology major Ale Lopez, lover of Google Classroom, said.
During a survey I conducted by means of approaching random people, students and professors alike, around campus and inquiring about this question, 60% of interviewees said they would prefer to use a software besides Moodle. The other 40% claimed that they enjoyed Moodle and that it has a lot of cool features. So, it would appear that they’re either in denial or have succumbed to Moodle’s omnipresence, forcing themselves to like it for fear that the system will never change. Granted, I only spoke to 50 people, but I am certain this theme carries through all of Eckerd’s chronically online population.
“I don’t hate it, hate it, but I would much rather have Google Classroom,” Lopez said.
Students say they like Google Classroom because many of our assignments are completed through Google Drive, keeping everything simple and connected. Not only is it easier to use than Moodle, but many students who used it in high school were able to connect it to their phones and get notifications about upcoming assignments without missing a beat.
“On the less technical side, it’s just more fun,” Ella Reiss, a freshman in Creative Writing and Philosophy, said. As a general population, we’ve already attached all of our personal information and well-being to our Gmail and Google Drive, so why not just keep things fun and simple and conduct class with Google too?
Freshman Marley Hellerstein complained about grading on Moodle, saying they have some classes that don’t post grades, leaving them in the dark until midterms. She also pointed out that setting up Moodle each semester is not only confusing, but it’s insanely annoying because students have to resubmit a link each term instead of having a consistent sign-in.
This may seem like a minor issue, but little annoyances can manifest into grudges. And from the looks of it, they already have. Grudges aren’t the sign of a healthy relationship, and Eckerd’s counseling services are too busy for couple’s therapy between every student and their broken relationship with Moodle.
Fed up with the formatting of Moodle, some Eckerd professors have done away with it entirely, moving their class to Google Classroom or finding another method of submitting assignments. However, most professors (despite not liking Moodle) keep their courses on Moodle so that their students can have some consistency between classes.
So, if everyone is just conforming to Moodle, is it time for a revolution? Or is the journalist writing this article way off base?
There are downsides to anything, I suppose, because Google Classroom is known for making weighted grading difficult for teachers, and Canvas isn’t as familiar (yet) to students at Eckerd. However, most of the feedback I received consisted of comments like, “Moodle is hard to navigate,” “[Moodle] is a waste of time because students don’t like it,” and “Moodle isn’t user friendly,” so why does Eckerd continue to use it?
According to Ashley Burt, chief information officer for ITS, at the end of 2022, Canvas was being used in 36% of US and Canadian higher ed institutions. Being about half as popular as Canvas, Moodle and Blackboard each stood at 19% market share, and D2L, another learning service, claimed 14%. But, when the topic of Moodle was reevaluated in 2021 amongst the school’s faculty, they came to the consensus that no change was needed.
Many other colleges and universities indulge in the pleasantries of Canvas and Google Classroom. Is Moodle truly not as hated as I have been led to believe? Or is most of the Eckerdian population not willing to switch because it's simply what we’re used to?
In the aforementioned survey conducted by the faculty-led committee, out of 63 responses, about 30% of faculty responded that they would prefer to stick with Moodle, and an overwhelming 70% said they were either not sure or wanted to look into other platforms.
So, a change may not be needed, but it appears to be wanted.
“If students wanted to discuss this topic, I would encourage them to bring the request to the Computer Policy Group for discussion,” Burt said via email correspondence. “Moodle is a $0 cost solution, so there would need to be a push from students and/or faculty to initiate a search for an alternative.”
Article updated April 27.
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