Installing Moodle is a good start. But that is not enough
(Don't be like Roberto)
A common confusion we often encounter in our daily practice is the belief that designing, customizing, implementing, and managing a virtual classroom and its online courses boils down to the simple act of installing Moodle.
In our opinion, Moodle is the most flexible and comprehensive Learning Management System (LMS) on the market.
However, let me tell you a recent story. The situation: a phone call with a potential client from a public institution with whom we had been exchanging information via email. We’ll call him Roberto.
“Thank you very much for sending us the requested information; it’s very interesting,” Roberto solemnly expressed. “But we already have a computer guy who will install Moodle for us.“
Surprised by the level of ignorance that Roberto (head of the Training department) displayed in that sentence, I could only ask, “Does this person have experience in implementing this LMS, instructional design for online modalities, human resources organization to support students, Moodle Administration…?“
Uncomfortable with the question but determined to appear as though he had already thought about it, he replied curtly, “No, no… He installs Moodle for us, and we’ll learn the rest as we go. Everything is on the Internet these days; we’ll figure it out on the fly. Have a good day.“
And the communication ended.
I immediately turned to Google, trying to unravel what Roberto meant by “…a computer guy who will install Moodle.” On several e-commerce platforms, I found some answers: IT solutions and software development studies (and even qualified individuals) offer Moodle installation for as low as $50. With slogans like “implement elearning” and “deliver your courses online.“
So I reflected on Roberto’s confusion:
Roberto equates “tool” with “profession.” This is similar to believing, for example, that to run an organization’s accounting department, all you need to do is install Microsoft Excel or LibreOffice Calc, and you’ll learn “the rest” on the fly.
“Installing Moodle” is just a tiny fraction of implementing elearning through a Virtual Campus. In fact, it’s also the easiest part, as Moodle provides a very easy and intuitive installer. There are even several hosting services already integrated with this LMS, making this step even simpler.
The vast majority of these cheap services mentioned provide a basic installation of Moodle: the one that comes “out of the box,” with limited and quick customization. Unless the institution already has experienced staff for optimizing elearning resources, instructional design, advanced administration, technical support for Moodle (and much more), this installation will be useless, and the implementation of the desired Virtual Classroom will become so problematic that the project is likely to be abandoned.
Roberto believes that implementing a successful and efficient LMS is something that can be done “overnight.” Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes time, work, professionalism, and consistency. A planned combination of trained human resources, efficient departmental organization, an LMS configured according to all the institution’s requirements and characteristics, technical support, and a Help Desk with experience and advanced knowledge, internal and external communication strategies aimed at promoting courses and the new platform, among other components. We have seen institutions achieve this in two years, perhaps in one, but never in a few days.
Unless he changes his outlook and corrects his actions, Roberto will face numerous difficulties in launching his Campus, overloading his subordinates with a lot of extra work. Inefficiencies and discoordination will increase exponentially when hundreds of students enter the Campus to receive training.
Roberto will curse the day he thought of incorporating elearning, and the platform will start its way into oblivion.
Please, don’t be like Roberto: seek guidance and listen to the advice of professionals with extensive experience in implementing successful and efficient Learning Management Systems.
Lic. Ricardo Acosta García
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