Blogs or Moodle: Which is Best?

The PM Information Technology Team often receives questions about how our blogs fit in with the district’s Moodle strategy. Two common questions are: “Should I stop using Moodle and create a blog”? and “I’d like to create a website. What do I use?” Let’s briefly clarify what Moodle and blogs are best at, what their limitations are and how both tools can harmoniously co-exist or complement faculty and staff learning initiatives.

First, I’d like to make it clear that Penn Manor’s commitment to Moodle is as strong as ever. Teachers and staff have invested years of training, support and energy into the creation of hundreds of great classroom Moodle sites. Moodle is often the best fit for teachers who wish to create rich virtual classrooms, promote collaborative learning activities or simply maintain an online repository of resources. Additionally, the Moodle community continues to support deep tool-sets for a broad array of online course activities.

We are also looking forward to Moodle version 2.0, due sometime later this year. The next generation Moodle promises to add a number of great features and improvements. Of note, a new student blog tool is scheduled for release in Moodle 2.0 :-).

While Moodle satisfies nearly all of our virtual working space needs, there are times when a lighter-weight publishing tool is perhaps a better fit. As such, our WordPressMU Blog site was deployed to meet several specific objectives:

1. Provide simple departmental or information pages for those who do not require a full virtual classroom.

2. Upgrade school building-level web sites to an easy and robust publishing tool.

3. Provide a tool for teachers or staff who desire the ability to customization their site’s look and feel.

4. Permit student-level blogs for special assignments and classroom projects.

Blogs and blogging software were initially created to provide fast web-publishing for individuals seeking simple self-expression tools. Over time, blogs have evolved into elegant publishing engines. For example, the PM Technology Blog, Superintendent blog and “PsychoBabble” blog are best suited for WordPress because the authors do not require Moodle’s advanced collaborative features. Keep in mind that aside from commenting, blog postings are typically one-way conversations and are not necessarily the best choice for elaborate threaded discussions. Additionally, blog discussions (commenting) are typically fully public whereas Moodle discussions can be locked inside a password protected, keyword secured “walled garden” course workspace.

Here is a quick chart to help faculty choose between the two tools:

Task Blogs Moodle
Article & news posting X X
Post pictures/media X X
Commenting X X
Teacher controlled themes X
Rich threaded discussions X
Student assignment uploads X
Wiki tools X
Database Functions X
Teacher managed chatting X
Quiz module X
Lesson tools X

The bottom line is that Moodle will satisfy 75% of teacher virtual classroom activity needs. A blog will satisfy the 25% who are looking for another tool to reach parents or are simply searching for a new collaborative writing activity or a simple web presence.

You will find the district Moodle and Blog sites here:

http://moodle.pennmanor.net

http://blogs.pennmanor.net/list/

2 Replies to “Blogs or Moodle: Which is Best?”

  1. How true this is! Thanks for a great analysis, Charlie.

    We receive this question in Chester County often, and you could substitute the words Ning, Wikispace, and a half-dozen other Web 2.0 tools for the word “blog”, and it would still be spot-on.

    I liken Moodle to Microsoft Office (shudder), because it is that “suite” of tools you describe. If someone just wants a word processor, do they need to buy Office as a whole? Not necessarily. Maybe WordPad is enough for them, and that’s okay. Moodle is the same way: committing to learning Moodle is about long-term planning for *expansion* of technology in the classroom.

    A nice post! I’ll be back to read more. LM

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