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This course is the ninth in a series of courses offered by College in the Clouds. Our previous courses and books included learning how to use free open source tools such as LibreOffice to create documents and Linux to run your computer. We then explain how to create your own virtual private server to host your websites and how to use Joomla to build your websites. ,We next explained how to use Phoca Cart to create your own online store. In this course, we will cover how to use a free open source tool called Moodle to build and run your own online courses.


Why Create Your Own Online Course
Creating an online course has several major benefits. First, it allows you as a teacher to reach a much wider audience. Instead of teaching the same course over again and again to small groups of ten to thirty students, you can video tape your courses and post them online where they can be seen by millions of students.

But merely posting videos is not an organized or effective way to help students learn a subject. A course also needs to have readings to supplement the videos and video conferences where students can ask questions of the instructor and share ideas with each other. The course also needs a website with a forum where students can ask questions and read your answers to the questions of others. A course also needs to have quizzes where students can confirm their knowledge of one section of the course before moving on to the next section of the course. Finally, a course needs to have a way to keep track of students and their progress so that a certificate of completion can be awarded. Bringing together all of these learning activities is where a Learning Management System like Moodle comes in.


Why Moodle?
There are many learning management systems on the market today. Some like Blackboard cost thousands of dollars per course while others like Canvas cost hundreds of dollars per course. Moodle has five main advantages over other learning management systems.

First, Moodle is free making it within the budget of any school and any teacher.

Second, the Moodle database integrates nicely with the Joomla database which is the tool we recommend for building your course website.

Third, Moodle is expandable meaning that it can be used to organize everything from a single course to an entire University.

Fourth, there are hundreds of free tools you can add to customize your Moodle course.

Finally, Moodle has a massive community to help you overcome any problems you may have in creating your online course.


Our Plan

In previous courses, we have explained why changing from MS Office to LibreOffice and switching from the Windows operating system to the Linux operating system is essential for online security. In other courses, we explained how to set up a Virtual Private Server using a free open source control panel called Hestia. Knowing how to set up your own VPS is essential prerequisite to building a Moodle website as Moodle can quickly overwhelm the resources available on a Shared Hosting account. We also explained how to set up a Joomla website. Joomla is complementary to Moodle in that you can set up your course documents on a Joomla website and then link to the Joomla pages in your Moodle course website.

In this course, we will review how to install Moodle on a Hestia VPS. Next, we review how to set up the structure of your online course. Then we review how to install a customizable Moodle theme to improve the appearance of your online course website Finally, we will go step by step through some of the most important processes in running your Moodle online course.

This course is divided into the following nine categories:

1 Freedom to Teach (a new easier way to Install Moodle)

2 Structure your Moodle Site Categories Courses and Users

3 Create your Moodle Course Content and Activities

4 Improve Moodle Appearance with the Fordson Theme

5 Use Moodle Features Calendars, Blogs, Assignments and Quizes

6 Add Moodle Plugins

7 Moodle Communications Forums Chats and Messaging

8 Provide Private Video Conferencing with Jitsi

9 Moodle Site Management

Now that you understand the plan, let's get started with a few tips on gathering your online course creation tools.

Regards, David Spring M. Ed.