A students' guide to Moodle and Blackboard
Moodle - What is it?
Moodle is a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that is hugely popular with universities and colleges. It is especially useful for helping students keep track of lecture notes, and staying up-to-date with any course happenings or missed lectures. Moodle allows educators to distribute education and resources among vast numbers of students worldwide, whilst university students can use it to check for plagiarism via Turnitin and to upload their assignments. It can also be used for things including seminar enrolment, allowing students to select their seminars in the comfort of their own environment rather than submitting forms into department offices.
Since 2012, many universities such as the University of Nottingham, Glasgow, Bolton, Essex and St. Andrews have started to use Moodle to conduct online courses, distribute lecture readings, podcasts, handouts and course information. There are also live chats with students and professors, allowing information to be quickly distributed en-masse. Paige Townsend, a second year undergraduate reading English and History at the University of Nottingham said 'Moodle is a much more useful tool than its predecessor, Web CT. It is easy to navigate and makes it easy for students to find the information for which they are looking. It has really helped me to keep track of information and to keep up to date with lectures notes, handouts, etc.'
Blackboard - What is it?
Similarly to Moodle, Blackboard is another Virtual Learning Environment, which includes features such as course management, assessment, feedback and provides various means of communication between students and professors.
Blackboard is used by students to check and utilise course material put on the site by their module leaders. This includes lecture slides, seminar readings and additional tips about exams. It is also used to allow students to sign-up for seminars and like Moodle, submit assessed essays via Turnitin. Finally, students can communicate with other students regarding any queries on live discussion boards which are available in each module folder.
In February 2011, over 18.5 million messages were sent in one day via Blackboard Connect. As a result, Blackboard has been adopted by many universities including the University of West London, Swansea University, University of Leicester, Bristol and Newcastle. The University of Newcastle claims that 'there are currently (2012/13) over 18,000 active users and more than 5,000 modules used on Blackboard for teaching and learning activities'.
Tom Kelly, a second year undergraduate reading History at the University of Newcastle, said that 'Blackboard is very informative and serves all my academic needs', reiterating its popularity within the student community.
Worried? Don't be. All Fresher’s will be given information about the Virtual Learning Environment that their university supports, with plenty of support and guidance being offered about how to use the facilities provided. Once grasped, both Moodle and Blackboard can be used effectively by students and will soon become central to your academic experience at university.