From by David Barnes

ne of the early successes in my career at Packt was Moodle E-Learning Course Development. We started working on the book in mid-2005, and published it in April 2006. Here’s how Moodle has grown since then:

Google search volume for “Moodle”, 2004–2015

Moodle is mainly used in schools and universities. Every summer interest in the topic tumbles then returns bigger than ever in the new academic year.

William Rice and I believed in Moodle’s growth. We knew that the main target audience for a Moodle book were people who weren’t yet using Moodle, but would. We aimed the book as much as possible at the future core user, teachers.

This meant we were turning our backs on Moodle’s existing user base, which consisted of:

  1. Open Source enthusiasts who were keen to see an OS solution beat Blackboard.
  2. Technophiles and technicians who were building advanced applications on Moodle as a platform.
  3. Education theorists who loved that Moodle followed the social constructivism philosophy.

Most of what had been written about Moodle up to that point came from — and targeted— these audiences. To target teachers, we knew we couldn’t just describe or document Moodle. We had to really hit the target and give something that busy, principled, tech-suspicious teachers would value. To do this, we:

  1. Figured out what teachers really cared about. We all knew teachers, and we knew they cared about their students academic achievement and personal development, giving great educational activities, saving time, doing less marking, and avoiding paperwork far more than they cared about any computer tool, including Moodle.
  2. We mapped out what Moodle could do to help teachers with things they cared about. We didn’t worry about covering all features of Moodle. We were quite happy to only use those parts that would really help. And we wouldn’t just show how to use Moodle, we’d give advice, tips, ideas that would help teachers use it more effecitively, quickly.
  3. We built the book around creating and running effective courses. We showed, step-by-step, how to reach the goal. Every chapter title should have made sense to teachers: Creating Courses, Adding Course Material, Welcoming Your Students, and so on.

The book helped make Moodle much more accessible to the early adopter teachers, extending Moodle’s appeal beyond a technical and academic inner circle to mainstream education.

Now just about every student and teacher I speak to knows and uses Moodle. I’m proud to have played a small making education less stressful and more effective for millions of people.

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