by Julie Bryce
Video by Brad Boll and Jim Haverkamp
Produced by Julie Bryce
Ever heard of Blackboard? Or if you’re young enough, remember online assignments using WebAssign or Maple? Moodle is a content management system with similar capabilities, but it’s open source and completely free. Free as in beer. (They do gratefully accept donations.)
The line between learning in the classroom and learning independently has been forever blurred. Thanks to the resources of the web, kids as young as nine can learn the way college students do. Completing online assignments at home, reviewing lessons from the previous day at their own pace, and communicating with instructors and peers without picking up a phone.
This is the story of Durham Academy and the school’s pioneering use of Moodle in middle school science classrooms. But the lessons learned and the results acheived apply to kids everywhere. Scalable because it’s free, usable because the code is open, Moodle lets teachers maximize their limited classroom hours. They spend more time teaching, less time grading, and offer students a “walled garden” glimpse of the resources available on the wild, wild web. And the students? They learn accountability, time management, independence, and the value of collaboration. Could they be the next generation of open source advocates?