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This course is the sixth 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 Linux to run your computer, LibreOffice to write an Ebook, Joomla to build a website, Google Plus and YouTube to create your own video channel and VirtueMart to start your own online store. In this sixth program, we will cover how to use a free open source tool called Moodle to build and run our own online courses.


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 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 thousand of dollars per course while others cost hundreds of dollars per course. Moodle has five main advantages over other learning management systems. First, it 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
We will first talk about gathering some of the tools you will need to create your online course. These will include web hosting and creating an associated Joomla website. Then installing Moodle on your web host's server (it can be done with just a couple of clicks). Next, we will review how to set up the structure of your online course. Then we will cover how to adjust the appearance of your Moodle online classroom. Finally, we will go step by step through some of the most important processes in running your Moodle online course.

This is a work in progress. We will be adding articles to this website over time with the goal of having it completed by the summer of 2015. In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to post them on our community forum at College in the Clouds. This forum can be reached by clicking on the word FORUM in the main menu. 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.