Classrooms all over the US are integrating online environments into their courses. Not only have they been used in universities but in elementary through high school and also in the creation of online schools. What makes these environments extremely valuable to students is the ability to use a computer. By being exposed to technology, students will become integrated into the digital world and be able to use future programs with ease. These environments also eliminate the need for paper assignments by allowing children and young adults to operate fully on the cloud. There are many learning environments that schools use, but Moodle and Blackboard are two of the most well-known environments out there.
Moodle was developed by Martin Dougiamas and stands for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. Moodle uses many of the same tools that most online learning environments use, including calendar, news and announcements, online quizzes, instant message and many other features. The focus is on collaboration and interaction between students and teachers.
A similar online tool is Blackboard which was created by Blackboard Inc. It also uses many of the same tools that target teacher/student collaboration. Blackboard has been utilized by various colleges to allow students to get class information easily and to learn from classmates through online discussion boards.
All online learning environments use similar tools. Whether you are an elementary student learning in an online environment or an online student pursuing your online mba program, all online environments are composed of some of the same elements.
• Both are customizable with open source architecture (teachers and administrators can add school colors or mascot for school spirit)
• Both are restricted access to students making students unable to make changes that may be seen as inappropriate
• Both utilize file uploads to help students learn
• Both use a drop box program to turn in assignments
• Both have many of the same links like Gradebook and My Courses to organize information
Although both Blackboard and Moodle share many similarities, each online learning environment utilizes different aspects and is sometimes more effective at particular things.
• Blackboard’s page is a mono style page with fixed categories and sub categories while Moodle places general information at the side of the page with the more dynamic information in the center to include forums and updates.
• Blackboard utilizes email to get information from teacher to student. The system is simple, but it is less collaborative than the forum style utilized by Moodle. Teachers post in the forum, and students can see and interact within a discussion.
• Moodle adds students to class rosters automatically while Blackboard needs a specific file uploaded before it can register the class roster.
• Moodle automatically updates the online calendar when quizzes are added, and Blackboard does not have this feature.
Each online learning environment was created with the same goal in mind: to integrate technology into student life. The outcome has been positive with the creation of several learning environments including the two most popular, Moodle and Blackboard. Though both have many similarities and differences, they are each great tools for online learning, and because they are in competition with one another they can only get better with time.